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Toxic Workplaces and Their Effects on Employee Engagement

We've all been there; working at a job where you wake up and dread getting to the office. It could be because of any number of reasons! Maybe you don't feel heard by your boss, or your team just isn't working well together. It starts with looking at job boards after a bad week at work and eventually grows into seriously applying to move on from that company. Soon, star talent is leaving left and right, and leadership starts asking, "how do we change course?"

The study "How Toxic Workplace Environments Effects the Employee Engagement" looked into how organizational support and employee wellbeing can play a role in mediating feelings of burnout and overall negativity in small to medium-sized companies. They set out on this study wondering how companies with negative cultures turn it around and what steps other companies can take to change things for the better?  

"The direct relationship between a toxic workplace environment and employee engagement confirms that if employees are working in a toxic environment, they will spread negative feelings among other co-workers."

They defined a toxic workplace environment as "a climate factor that demolishes a person’s sense of security and, thus, is bound to have a negative impact on well-being." When employees are operating in a toxic environment, they are less engaged, more likely to have health complications, and are less likely to stay at that organization. In comparison to a collaborative work environment which "is a friendly place with the right mix of pleasure, involvement, and organizational citizenship behavior." In these types of environments, employees are driven, more creative, experience more synergy with their team, and are more likely to stay at that company.

Looking at workplaces with negative environments, the researchers found that implementing organizational support can reduce worker stress and burnout. Even informal support can be more helpful when provided, compared to formal support from a manager or leader. This all means that you don't have to have a formal review with your team, say once a month, to make a difference. Regular check-ins or getting together for coffee to go over pain points and celebrate successes can make a huge difference.

So, even if your organization is not in the best place right now, providing increased organizational support from upper management, and within teams can impact how employees are feeling and how they perform. With more support from their organization, employee engagement will go up, and with it, retention rates, performance metrics, and overall employee happiness.