Building a collaborative and welcoming work environment is crucial for any company that wishes to stick around for the long run. After all, toxic behavior is not only unethical, but it also encourages all your best workers to go find employment elsewhere. Some may even be willing to accept lower pay and fewer benefits in exchange for the chance to work somewhere less stressful.
The good news is that a toxic work environment never emerges overnight. It’s something that comes together over months and years of small transgressions being either ignored or encouraged. Here are some tips that can help you prevent toxic behavior from becoming common in your business.
1 – Start from the top
Managers and other employees in positions of leadership need to be held to a higher standard than everyone else. Their prominent position means that bad behavior from them may encourage other employees to do the same, especially if said behavior is ignored or — worse yet — is dismissed as not a big deal.
One way to help avoid this problem is to be selective about who to promote. Some people may not be suited for a managerial position, even if they are excellent at their job. The other way to avoid this problem has to do with the next tip.
2 – Create venues for venting
It’s easy to lose touch with just how stressed, frustrated, and anxious your workforce is if they have no real way to report those issues. Having a culture of open communication around the office can fix this problem. And the sooner managers learn that things aren’t going well, the more time they’ll have to track down the source of the issue and address it.
Open communication doesn’t have to mean speaking face to face. Employees may feel skittish about giving negative feedback, especially if the problem is being caused by someone in a leadership position. Because of this, it is a good idea to allow complaints and feedback to be delivered via text and email as well, as that allows for a greater degree of privacy.
3 – Support people that are struggling
Personal problems often bleed into the workplace, affecting employee behavior. And a severe enough work problem may become a personal one. As an example, that’s what happens to adult abuse victims, as this website explains. Whether your employee needs time off to deal with a medical emergency, a schedule change to attend AA meetings, or a longer lunch break so they can meet with a lawyer, giving struggling workers the support they need helps to foster an atmosphere of collaboration in the office.
4 – Monitor competition
Some amount of friendly competition isn’t just harmless, it actively makes working more fun for some people. However, it’s important to monitor toxic behavior and encourage good sportsmanship when dealing with competition. Otherwise, you risk creating a class divide between winners and losers, where losers are often dismissed or bullied despite doing good work in their own right.
5 – Offer conflict management training
Making sure managers know how to spot and defuse conflicts around the office can go a long way toward keeping toxic behavior from taking hold. Proper conflict management is often the difference between problems that are settled peacefully and grudges that lead to more conflict down the line.