An excellent work environment, according to Tasha Broomhall, director of work environment psychological health consultancy Blooming Minds, is one where we can “come to work, participate fully, be our authentic self and not have to … feel psychologically unsafe at work”.
By contrast, a toxic work environment has a host of warnings, Professor Gary Martin, president at the Australian Institute of Management WA, informed Geoff Hutchison on ABC Radio Perth.
He stated among the very first indications of a possibly troublesome work environment is high personnel turnover.
Other indications consist of low spirits, impractical expectations of workers, absence of interaction, gossiping and innuendo, and extreme or fierce internal competitors.
“It’s a workplace where public humiliation and criticism are tolerated,” Professor Martin stated.
“Complaints of bullying and harassment are often ignored or buried in a workplace that is toxic and lip service only paid to matters of diversity and inclusion.”
Respect originates from the top
Both specialists concurred that producing a healthy, emotionally safe work environment was the obligation of supervisors and the management group in an organisation.
“I think it comes down to the emotional intelligence of people in a leadership or management type of position,” Professor Martin stated.
“Where individuals do not listen, and their actions encounter as aggressive and ill-mannered it does get individuals’s backs up.”
Ms Broomhall stated workers required to feel that they might disagree on concepts or raise concerns with their manager, without it having unfavorable effects for them.
Policies should be practiced
Ms Broomhall also said workplace policies and codes of conduct could make a difference, but only if they were enacted and did not simply exist on paper.
“[Codes of conduct specify] what are the behaviours that are permitted and what are the behaviours that if we see them, we’re going to call them out,” she said.
“They likewise state how we securely call it out at whatever level in the organisation.
“So, we disempower the negative behaviours and we actually empower staff to address whatever they see at whatever level.”
Professor Martin stated healthy workplaces were those where personnel felt they might offer sincere feedback and raise issues without it leading to problems of bullying or troublemaking.
“If you’ve got the right culture in the workplace rather than there being these massive cracks in a culture, you can have those discussions, you can give feedback.”
Toxicity saps energy levels
Professor Martin stated leaders ought to be worried about workplaces turning toxic as it was extremely harmful to efficiency.
“It saps the energy, so you do not have the energy to devote to the work that you do,” he stated.
“Everything seems a drain and gloomy and as a result of that, if you’re in that sort of environment, energy levels and your productivity just plunge.”
Even separated problems of bullying or ill-mannered behaviour ought to be taken really seriously, as workplaces require time to turn toxic.
“Just the minor sniff of problems in the workplace should be taken seriously because it might show that we’re not actually adhering to the code of conduct and things are going wrong,” Professor Martin stated.
“The more you let things go and slip the bigger they become.
Ms Broomhall said business leaders needed to pay closer attention to issues of workplace culture and toxicity if they wanted to perform at their best.
“One of the important things I’m captivated by is why more boards do not in fact take a look at their rates of turnover, tension declares etc and in fact go and evaluate the culture and step in on the culture,” she said.
“That’s where we in some cases require to be stepping in and there’s a genuine space there.