As an employer, how much effort to you put into creating a healthy company culture? Just as importantly, how aware are you of the way your company culture is experienced and perceived by your employees?
It’s easy for toxicity to gradually creep into your company culture if you’re not actively taking steps to prevent it. Unfortunately, toxic work environments can be devastating to the mental and physical health of your employees. A toxic culture can create chronic stress and make individuals physically ill.
As Millennials and Generation Z begin comprising an increasingly larger percentage of the workforce, an emphasis on your company culture is becoming much more important. These younger generations place a greater importance on work-life balance and choosing a positive work environment that aligns with their personal values. They are much less tolerant of a toxic work culture than older generations in the workforce, and this means your business will feel the negative impacts of a toxic culture even more strongly moving forward.
Why should you care about a toxic company culture? On a more altruistic level, you should want to create a work environment that promotes the mental and physical wellbeing of your staff, and that creates ideal conditions for them to grow and thrive. On a more self-serving level, allowing toxicity to creep into your culture can have a devastating impact on your business.
According to the Harvard Business Review, businesses with a toxic company culture experience a wide range of issues that negatively impact their productivity and profitability:
The increase in employee turnover also results in a variety of additional costs to your business. According to the Center for American Progress, it costs approximately 20% of an employee’s salary to replace them after they quit. In addition, losing your best employees creates a leadership void in your company. These team members have greater knowledge of your business, your industry and your processes. They provide continuity for your operations and invaluable guidance to new employees who are being onboarded. When you’re unable to retain these workers long term, it significantly impedes company growth.
In order to prevent the development of a toxic work culture, it’s important to understand what these environments look like. Common characteristics that lead to a toxic culture include:
While it’s possible to repair a toxic company culture, it can be very challenging to do so. In addition, it will take a long time to repair and during the process, you’re likely to experience high levels of employee turnover. Therefore, a better approach is to take steps to prevent a toxic culture from developing in the first place.
The following strategies will help you avoid toxicity creeping into your culture.
While it’s reasonable to expect your employees to work hard and make their job a priority in their lives, you want to avoid creating a culture that leads to burnout. Employee burnout can negatively impact your business in a variety of ways. Employee productivity can suffer from burnout. In addition, it can allow a toxic environment to develop.
To prevent this, make sure you foster a culture that emphasizes employee wellbeing. This should include valuing work-life balance to prevent burnout. But it should also involve providing mental health resources for employees who may need this assistance.
The first few months of an employee’s tenure at your company is critical to their ongoing success and happiness. When new staff join your team, it’s important to provide structured onboarding and training that allows them to understand their role, their responsibilities and the overall company culture.
Make sure you have an employee handbook that effectively conveys your company culture, vision, and core values. This handbook can provide a guide that will help new team members understand what is expected of them. In addition, make sure your management team works closely with new team members to provide them with any training they need to be successful in their role. This should also include providing clear expectations regarding what success in this role looks like.
Increased awareness of how to fit into the company culture and the expectations for individual roles will help employees understand what is required of them. This will create a positive work environment that sets employees up for success.
Your employees have feelings. They want to feel valued and appreciated. They want to feel like their contributions to your company make a difference. When your employees feel like they’re valued, they’ll work harder and be more productive. They’ll be better teammates who want to contribute to the collective success of the business. Most importantly, they’ll be happy, stick around and help you build the foundation for a positive work culture.
There are a variety of steps you can take to make your team feel valued and appreciated:
Does your company have a set of core values that is communicated to all employees? Establishing a set of core values is an important component to building a positive company culture. These core values should embody the behaviors that contribute to a positive work environment, such as:
For your core values to have a positive impact on your culture, they must be lived on a daily basis by all of your team members. There are several ways to accomplish this:
Maintaining a positive culture takes a tremendous amount of work. It’s important to continuously check in with your employees to ensure their experience reflects the culture you’re trying to establish.
To achieve this, provide employees with regular opportunities to communicate with your management team. This can be done in a variety of ways:
To ensure your managers receive honest feedback from your team, make sure your employees feel confident that negative feedback won’t result in any sort of retaliation or punishment. In addition, negative feedback should be acknowledged and addressed by your leadership team in a timely manner. You may also consider offering incentives for employees who share ideas that can improve your company culture.
A strong company culture is built from the top down, not from the bottom up. Your management team must exemplify the culture and values you’re trying to instill in your team. If your management team is held to a different standard than the rest of your employees or if they fail to adhere to the same values, it will breed resentment that leads to a more toxic culture.
Implementing policies that prevent a toxic culture can be challenging. Often, it’s helpful to work with a third-party HR consultant who can provide an objective assessment of your existing employee engagement efforts. At PassioHR, we can help you develop a strong culture that improves employee satisfaction and minimizes turnover.
Our Elevated Engagement Plus™ Approach ensures you’ll receive recommendations that are tailored to the specific needs of your business. We’ll work closely with you to learn about your unique company culture and workforce dynamic. This information will help us identify the steps you can take to maintain optimal employee engagement and create a culture that helps you retain your top talent.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
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