Top 5 Symptoms Of toxic workplace environment & It’s Antidote

As the fish rots from the head down, the top management is responsible for the toxic workplace environment  and to rectify venomous environment, start from the top!

Is your staff discourage? Tired? Burnt out?

If these questions have a positive answer, then the culture and toxic workplace environment of that organization. This requires prompt attention and search for its solutions.

The toxic workplace environment is a serious issue as the employees would be unhappy and consequently, their productivity will be decreased. The number of mistakes would be more, relationship among employees can be destroy, top performers would get demotivate, and in the worse condition, the employee turnover rate can be increase which can cost the organization at a higher level.

The workplace environment is based on different levels. It is not concerned only with behaviors. Rather, values & beliefs are also a part of this infrastructure. To make your business successful and to bring a lasting change in all the levels of the toxic workplace environment, it’s necessary to tackle workplace issues.

The action should be quick for the improvement of an adverse working environment before it’s too late that the productivity lags & the employees relinquish the business ship. But before that, to diagnose the disease is mandatory. The following are the major symptoms that reveal that the workplace environment is toxic and requires treatment.

  1. Corrupted Communication Between Top Management & Employees

A sound network of communication is the key element for the sound working and sound health of any organization. Because without achieving effective communication, it is impossible to have efficient teamwork and to accomplish a specific task.

Therefore, the first and foremost symptom for an ineffective workplace environment is an insignificant and dysfunctional communication system between top management and the employees. This miscommunication can often spread to different levels—between supervisors and employees, from supervisors to management, with suppliers, across departments, and with the customers.

As far as communication is concerned it may include:

  • Misleading information
  • Indirect communication channels i.e, messages are sent through others
  • Withholding information
  • Absence of information i.e, employees do not know about the decisions take by the top management and consequently, they can’t work accordingly.


  1. Poor Implementation Of Policies & Procedures

Have you any experience as a customer when you went to an organization and you found out that no one knew about what they were doing? Or you got a different type of answers to your questions from different employees? And finally, employees just say “whatever” & actually did what they wanted? If yes, then that organization had major issues regarding the implementation of its policies & procedures.

When the policies & procedures of an organization are not implemented appropriately then, poor quality of work, inconsistency in operations, and chaos prevail in that organization. Which makes the workplace environment toxic and employees, vendors & customers get frustrated.

Such an environment does not attract new recruitments rather; the existing employees think to quit that organization. So, this symptom shows that the workplace environment is venomous and requires a solution.


  1. High Rate Of Employee Turnover

If a company experiences a high rate of voluntary and involuntary employee turnover, then this is also a symptom of a toxic workplace environment. Whereas, the high rate of involuntary turnover represents the internal instability, ill-equipped leaders, low level of strategic planning. Poor recruiting system which leads to the poor recruitment of candidates.

As far as voluntary turnover is concern, it is also an important factor to be brought into consideration. A high rate of voluntary turnover in the 30-90 days after recruitment is also the symptom that the workplace environment didn’t suit them. The reasons behind it can be the conflict between newly recruit employees and old workers or the organizational culture itself.

In the same way, the departure of top managers or sudden exiting of loyal workers also needs the red flag to be raised for the improvement of the workplace environment.


  1. Increased Rate of Litigation or Third-Party Intervention

Increased rate of litigation and intervention by a third party is also a symptom of a toxic workplace environment. Intervention by the third parties can be done in different ways like complaints filed by EEOC, OSHA & the Labour department, filing of Union petition, and private lawsuits.

All these actions are taken by the employees when they feel that they are wrong and mistreated or the workplace itself is toxic.

This is that symptom that literally plays with dollars. A company with a high rate of litigation increases the legal expenditures for the organization for the defense of itself against the legal charges being filed. Moreover, such a workplace environment affects the overall morale of the employees and affect the organization at large.


  1. Unprofessional Behavior

A workplace having disrespectful interaction is a serious symptom of the venomous workplace environment. Where there is a lack of respect, the conflict rises there at a high rate which makes the environment toxic to work.

Unprofessional behavior may include offensive language with each other, being rude, cursing, or yelling. It may occur among peers towards subordinates and leaders as well. Fighting and gossiping are more examples of unprofessional behavior. Such behaviors reduce the teamwork and overall performance of the organization which lacks positive relationships as well.

Now the question is, can such a toxic workplace environment be cure?

The answer is, yes! Of course!

Following are some ways to develop a strategic response to such workplace environment:


  1. Listen To Your Staff

Transparent & clear communication forums should be established like one-on-one meetings in which you enquire from your employee’s different questions which may have an adverse response. For example, “Does management deliver a good & positive atmosphere, culture of fair treatment and respect?” “Have our organization delivered a safe place to work?” “Does our organization remained successful in providing harassment-free & other abusive behavior free environment?” and “which things do you suggest us for the improvement of our organization?”

These questions will help the organizations in finding out where the actual problem is and in the improvement of the environment. But if there is any fear that employees could be bias in giving true responses then. In such a situation an alternative can be use in which anonymous surveys are conduct. In this situation, more honest responses can be obtain.

This way, the problem would be solve at the start and the environment will become work worthy.


  1. Exit Interviews—Another Antidote

To recognize the main cause of why the employees of your organization are leaving. But most often, this way of information is not use by the organizations as they haven’t designed.

It is an important point to notice that the existing employees don’t respond more honestly than that of departing ones. Because they do not have anything to lose in the context of their job. Such employees would answer more honestly and would tell those factors which contributed to their decision of leaving the organization.

This provides the leaders of the organization with much useful information about their workplace environment which they could not learn otherwise.


  1. Lead Appropriately

It starts at the top. According to an ancient phrase, as, fish rots from the head down, the top management is responsible for the toxic workplace. Also, to rectify venomous environment, start from the top. Top leadership and top management set the rules and standards for the organization. If the top management itself doesn’t work appropriately and standards seem too tough for the lower staff and then chances of toxic workplace increases.

A positive work environment should be establish in which workers feel a sense of respect, honor, and being value. This makes the employees satisfied and their efficiency for work increases to a great extent.

When the symptoms of a venomous & toxic workplace environment are displayed and you want to rectify it, then fist of all you should inspect the top management. Their policies are needed to be examined and their behavior with lower staff is also a point to be check.

If the top management’s leadership is correct, then the whole problem can be solve in no time and the organization.

In nutshell, it can be said that albeit the causes of hostility & toxicity of the workplace are numerous, but antidotes to such venomous environments are also plentiful. There is only a need for “will do something”. If the organization finds toxicity and waits for some miracles to happen. Which make its environment work worthy, then they are in fact destroy and needs competitive management. Moreover, when an organization will provide such an environment in which teamwork is appreciate, respect has prevail. The staff is value above all things then the result will be share benefit for the firm’s  employees, and customers.

Muhammad Amir

This is Muhammad Amir, a writer, researcher, and academician. I'm the founder of Inspohigh and my central idea of this initiative is to assist people develop and emerge amazingly through positivity, dedication, determination, information, and guidance. I have been involved in writing content based on business information, motivation, guidance, and positivity for several years. Therefore, through this platform my aims to provide a “Food for thought”, mental guidance, spiritual uplift, business motivation, guidance, inspiration, information, and emotional strength to gain a better life. You are free to change at any point in life only if you aim to do that, because “The sky is no limit”.