How to de toxify your workplace and improve employee performance
How to de-toxify your workplace and improve employee
When Sick building syndrome (SBS) was coined by the
World Health Organization back in 1984, many
dismissed it as an over-exaggeration. How could a
building make you sick?
But it could. No specific causes could be identified at the
time, but many building occupants were experiencing
acute health problems and daily discomfort.
After closer examination, some illness could be linked to
time spent in the building.
Poor indoor air quality and lack of ventilation were listed as
the culprits. The workplace was toxic, effecting workforce performance.
There was one story told to me by a client about a valued employee who quit because she was being
harassed and bullied by a co-worker. Instead of speaking up about it she determined that getting out of
there was her only viable solution. The workplace environment lacked engagement and communication.
The whole event proved toxic for her and co-workers and undermined performance. A common scenario is
where a tyrannical, abusive boss sends employees home every night in a deep distress. The employees
remain because they feel trapped, need the job, especially in this economy, and don't know what else to
This kind of toxicity alienates everyone and shuts off any chance to improve performance. Its only a matter
of time before this kind of boss experiences the negative effects of his or her behavior.
Amazingly, many captains and sergeants of industry are still unable or unwilling to discern an overall
pattern from a mass of detail. Seeing the big picture, or the broader, more general situation that workplace
toxicity plays is a vital first step if you want to protect your business.
Its simple. Poor leadership and dysfunction in the workplace will kill your people's self-esteem and
Never underestimate the power that knowledge plays in improving the conditions within your
organization. Knowing first what is toxic about your environment will make it easier to implement the
The good news is that the road to a healthy workplace can be built with some simple solutions.
In a workplace that hosts unchecked dysfunctional attitudes and negative emotions, your employees will
quit on you and your profits will eventually shrink. It can be described as a vicious cycle that perpetuates
and permeates the atmosphere with more dysfunction.
Signs of a toxic workplace:
*Overly restrictive systems. There is a difference between setting healthy workplace boundaries and
quashing employee or staff creativity.
*Incompetent or powerless HR manager. Lacks people skills. Not being adequately supported by superiors.
Is reluctant to take the leadership role fearing criticism from others.
*Workplace bully is admired. Those at the top allow or even encourage an individual who acts bossy and
abusive to everyone else.
*Widespread anger and frustration. Based on a number of factors. A lack of communication with higher
ups. No employee engagement.
*Scapegoating. Managers and department heads seek to cover their butts by blaming someone lower on
the totem pole. A practice often displayed in the halls of government.
*Dysfunctional relationships. In a nutshell, relationships within your organization that undermine
performance and cooperation. That includes allowing destructive behaviors to continue unchecked.
*Hypocrisy by superiors. Individuals can tell when another says one thing and does another. Or promises
one thing and doesn't come through. “It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty
and how few by deceit.” Noël Coward, Blithe Spirit
*Dysfunctional meetings. Meeting that are more like lectures with no room for input or dialogue. Nothing
gets resolved. Individuals marginalized. Psychological games played for the purpose of intimidation and
*No meaningful recognition and rewards component in your company. Whether as a peer to peer program
or other design, engaging and motivating your workforce to collaborate with your company's pays
Leaders tend to underperform when their default is to find fault. If unchecked, unconstructive critisism will
hurt your business in many ways. You will push away high-performing, energized, creative employees. You
will crush innovative teamwork so vital to remaining competitive. You will uncover and fuel emotional
difficulties among your people previously well managed or dormant. You could invite lawsuits. You will
hurt customer loyalty.
Conflicts are a natural part of having employees. You can turn them into assets. Make sure managing or
leading people isn't really about winning a popularity contest. Its about being a caring leader and a good
coach. You ignore this at your peril. According to a seven year study by author Douglas LaBier, many career
professionals turn to drugs and alcohol for escape from their depression and anger about their workplace
experience. "Working harder doesn't work and you can't buy your way to happiness.
Reversing the emotional damage created by an unhealthy culture is achievable. Here are some helpful
questions to ask yourself along with answers.
Getting the assistance of a incentive professional for incentive services can help you nail down what are
your key performance drivers. The right experts can provide the best performance improvement solutions.
Do you need to create or build on a safe, healthy, and supportive workplace? Does your interview process
recruit and retain employees best suited for the job you want to fill?
Is reducing absenteeism a KPI? How are you encouraging employee productivity? What are you doing to
improve safety while reducing the number of injury and illness claims? Do you encourage ideas and foster
creativity from your employees? Are your service awards programs working the way you want them to?
What are you doing to increase sales, customer service and customer experience?
If you are a hospital, are you reducing stress among your personnel and engaging them toward better
There are many non-complex and inexpensive ways to promote a healthy workplace.
There is a strong case for encouraging good-natured humor in your workplace environment. Its not about
being skilled at telling jokes. Jokes that fall flat but are good natured will show a healthy vulnerability and a
willingness to put yourself out there.
Employers and co-workers like someone with a sense of humor. Encourage mixing laughter and fun into
your company. It brings people together.
Joining your mission with recognition.
Align your mission and core values to the type of recognition initiative you want to have. Example: If one of
your core values include nurturing a team approach to reaching goals, you could consider a group event or
experience as a reward and recognition.
When recognition programs are in place managers will be able to do a better job effectively acknowledging
and appreciating employees.
Engage your employees to bring up your whole company. Whether its attending a meeting or completing a
new task, motive your people to snap into action when you ask. Enthusiasm boosts your bottom line.
Gallup says companies with highly engaged, enthusiastic employees showed nearly four times the financial
growth of companies with lower engagement.
We all need and want credit for a job well done. Fed-up individuals will bring toxicity to co-workers. Use
incentive technology to track everyone's job progress. Recognize and reward innovative solutions to a
problem or surpassing of a worthy goal.
Peer to peer recognition is certainly becoming more popular. Also make sure if your company is large, top
down recognition is hugely effective. You might ask “What difference would a simple thank you note from
the president to one employee? It may surprise you but often that note will remain on the employee's desk
for months. That's a morale booster!
Put juice into your company awards programs. Nurture communication, play and a sense of collaboration
while focusing your workforce on the goals you want to reach. Employee dedication will go up along with
your bottom line.
Making your people feel valued and respected is the foundation to building a healthy, positive
performance culture. Your investment of time and resources toward this end will be serve everybody. Be
there for your workforce and they will be there for you.