Toxic Workplaces Are Driving Employee Attrition

When predicting employee attrition and turnover, a toxic work culture is often cited as one of the top reasons employees choose to leave. Learn more about what makes a workplace toxic. Then consider whether your corporate policies are helping (or hindering) your staffing goals.


The most extreme form of a toxic workplace is outright abusive. Everyone has a bad day, but in abusive workplaces, bullying and belittling are the norm. People want to work for managers who are supportive, and who know how to give constructive feedback without yelling at or demeaning them. If there is any abuse going on in your company, it needs to be rooted out and dealt with right away.


Even if there is no outright abuse, disrespecting your employees is toxic behavior. Always treat them like human beings with individual needs, rather than as a monolithic whole. Train them well and give them the right resources for their work, and then trust them to get things done.

Lack of inclusiveness

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are extremely important to many workers today. They want to feel that everyone has a seat at the table, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, disability status, or age. Make sure you’re promoting diversity at all levels of your organization.

Also, watch out for cronyism and gossip. Workers want to know that project assignments and promotions are fair, rather than being based on friendships or family relationships. Be transparent about how you make assignments, and help everyone develop a long-term career path.

Unethical behavior

Organizational ethics matter. Your employees want to see you doing the right thing, both at the individual level and the larger corporate level. Always strive to tell your employees the truth, even about difficult situations. This may be especially true in high-level security environments where monitoring devices – phones and computers – are required. Comply with all regulations rather than finding shortcuts or loopholes. Practice sustainability, and listen to any concerns raised by your employees or the community as a whole.


Some competition can be healthy for individuals and teams. But when it crosses the line into feeling cutthroat, you have gone too far. Develop an atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation across departments. Focus on a team mentality in which all employees are expected to help each other. When you do hold competitions, keep them low-stakes and fun. No one should feel like they’re fighting to keep their job or to earn respect.

A toxic work culture can drive away even your most loyal employees, and make it tough to attract new hires. Making a new commitment to inclusivity, teamwork, and transparency and avoiding bad management practices can go a long way toward improving your business operations.


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