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7 Ways to Combat Toxicity and Create A Positive Work Environment

7 Ways to Combat Toxicity and Create A Positive Work Environment

by Sara J. Baker, Ed.D.

A toxic workplace can poison employee morale, leading to a decrease in productivity and an increase in turnover. As the leader, it’s up to you to nip toxicity in the bud and create a positive work environment where your team can thrive. But how? Should you simply go along and keep your head down? Or should you call out negative behaviors and make your expectations for a positive work environment heard? 

The answer, of course, is a little bit of both. Employees need to feel like their voices are being heard, but at the same time, they need to know that there are consequences for speaking or acting out in a toxic manner.

The benefits of a positive work environment are numerous. For one, happy employees are more productive employees. Studies have shown that workers who feel supported and valued in their jobs tend to be more engaged with their work and perform at a higher level. Additionally, companies with positive cultures tend to attract and retain top talent—which is essential for any organization that wants to stay competitive. Finally, happy employees often lead to happy customers, which can boost your bottom line.

So, if you’re ready for a few tips to help you effectively combat toxicity in the workplace, read on.

Listen to Your Employees

One of the best ways to combat toxicity in the workplace is to simply listen to your employees. If you create an open and inclusive environment where employees feel like their voices are being heard, they’ll be less likely to act out in a negative or toxic way. Schedule regular check-ins with your team members, both one-on-one and in group settings, and encourage them to share any concerns they have about the workplace. You may not be able to address every issue immediately, but your employees will appreciate knowing that their voices are being heard.

In order to create a positive and productive work environment, it’s essential that managers foster open communication among their team members. And one of the best ways to do that is by simply listening to what your employees have to say. When you take the time to really listen to what your employees are saying—whether it’s during a casual conversation or a more formal meeting—you’re sending a clear message that you value their input and want to create a workplace where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.

7 Ways to Combat Toxicity and Create A Positive Work Environment

Not only does listening help create a more positive work environment, but it can also lead to better decision-making. When you listen to different points of view, you’re able to consider all sides of an issue before making a final decision. This can help prevent problems down the road and ensure that any decisions made are well-informed and in the best interest of everyone involved.

Listening shows that you respect your employees and value their opinions. When employees feel respected, they’re more likely to be engaged in their work and loyal to their company. So, not only is listening good for business, but it’s also good for employee morale! 

Lead by Example

As the leader, you set the tone for the workplace. If you’re regularly engaged with your team and exhibiting positive behaviors, chances are good that your employees will follow suit. But if you’re unwilling to put in the work to create a positive work environment, don’t be surprised when your team starts exhibiting negative or toxic behaviors. Remember, it all starts at the top. 

If you tolerate negativity, your employees will think it’s okay to behave that way. Conversely, if you emphasize positivity and respect, your employees will follow suit. It’s important to lead by example and create a workplace culture that you’re proud of.

Leading by example is one of the most effective ways to motivate your team to act in a positive and respectful manner. When you set the tone for the workplace and lead by example, your employees are more likely to follow suit. This not only creates a more positive work environment, but it also helps to build trust among team members.

The psychology behind why people mimic the behavior of a leader is called social learning theory. This theory suggests that people learn by observing the behavior of others and then imitating it. So, if you want your team to behave in a certain way, it’s important that you model that behavior yourself.

Make sure you’re setting the right example for your team by exhibiting positive behaviors, such as exhibiting respect for others, being a good listener, and exhibiting a positive attitude. When you lead by example, you’re more likely to create a workplace culture that is respectful and positive.

Educate Your Team

Educate your employees on what constitutes toxic behavior. This can include things like bullying, gossiping, or creating a hostile work environment. Employees should be aware of the impact their words and actions can have on their co-workers.

Make it clear that any type of toxic behavior will not be tolerated in the workplace. Employees should know that they will be held accountable for their actions and that there will be consequences for engaging in toxic behavior.

7 Ways to Combat Toxicity and Create A Positive Work Environment

It’s also important to educate your team on how to identify and deal with toxicity in the workplace. Encourage them to speak up if they witness or are the victim of toxic behavior. Let them know that they can come to you with any concerns and that you will take their concerns seriously.

By educating your team on what constitutes toxic behavior, you’re sending a clear message that you will not tolerate this type of behavior in the workplace. This not only helps to build a more positive and respectful workplace, but it also helps to prevent problems before they start.

Open Communication

Encourage open communication. A good way to combat toxicity is to encourage open communication between employees. If someone is feeling harassed or uncomfortable at work, they should feel like they can come to you or another manager without fear of retribution. Creating an open and supportive environment will help nip toxicity in the bud.

Make sure employees feel like they can come to you with any concerns. Let them know that you take their concerns seriously and that you’re there to help. If an employee does come to you with a concern, make sure you address it swiftly and effectively.

7 Ways to Combat Toxicity and Create A Positive Work Environment

Open communication is essential for creating a respectful and positive work environment. When employees feel like they can come to you with their concerns, they’re more likely to feel respected and valued. This not only helps to prevent toxicity, but it also helps to build trust among team members.

Coach Bad Behaviors

If you see an employee engaging in bad or toxic behavior, don’t be afraid to coach them. Sometimes, employees may not even realize that their behavior is having a negative impact on the workplace. Having a conversation with them can help them understand how their words and actions are affecting others.

It’s important to have these conversations in a constructive and respectful manner. Avoid coming across as judgmental or punitive. Instead, focus on helping the employee understand how their behavior is impacting the workplace.

7 Ways to Combat Toxicity and Create A Positive Work Environment

If an employee refuses to change their behavior after being coached, then you may need to take more disciplinary action. This could include things like a formal warning or even termination.

Coaching bad behavior is an important part of combating toxicity in the workplace. By having these conversations, you can help employees understand the impact their words and actions are having on others. This not only helps to improve the workplace environment, but it also helps to prevent further problems down the road.

Establish Consequences

It’s important to let your team know that there will be consequences for exhibiting toxic behavior at work. Whether it’s a formal warning or a temporary suspension from work, employees need to know that there are repercussions for their actions. This might include things like verbal warnings, written warnings, or even termination. This will help deter them from engaging in negative behavior in the first place. 

It’s also important to be consistent with your enforcement. If you let someone off with a warning for a serious infraction, then you set a precedent that this behavior is acceptable. On the other hand, if you’re too harsh, then employees may lose respect for you. Finding the right balance is key.

Establishing consequences for bad behavior is an important part of combating toxicity in the workplace. Employees need to know that there are repercussions for their actions. This will help them think twice before engaging in negative or toxic behavior.

Be Caring But Firm

Ultimately, you need to be both caring and firm when it comes to combating toxicity in the workplace. Employees need to feel like their voices are being heard, but at the same time, they need to know that there are consequences for speaking or acting out in a toxic manner.

By being both caring and firm, you can create a respectful and positive work environment. This not only helps to prevent toxicity from occurring in the first place, but it also helps to build trust and respect among team members.

7 Ways to Combat Toxicity and Create A Positive Work Environment

Creating a Healthy Workplace

A toxic workplace can have disastrous consequences for both individual employees and the business as a whole. As the leader, it’s up to you to establish a positive work environment where everyone can thrive. This can be accomplished by listening to employee concerns, leading by example, and establishing clear consequences for negative or toxic behavior. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your workplace is a positive and productive place for everyone involved.

Are You Ready to Combat Toxicity in the Workplace?

If you’re ready to take action against toxicity in your workplace, then we can help. We offer a variety of resources that can help you establish a healthy and productive work environment, including our most popular on-demand course, PACED Leadership. This course will teach you the five most essential steps to creating a healthy team.

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Dr. Sara Baker, Founder of the Leadership Reformation

About the Author

Dr. Sara Baker is an advocate for positive leadership and healthy workplaces. With over 20 years of experience leading private and public organizations, she understands the challenges that employees and leaders face every day.

Sara is the author of Toxic Workplace Survival Guide, an essential resource for anyone who wants to thrive in spite of a toxic work environment or who is ready to quietly quit. In addition to her writing, Sara provides online courses for leadership development and coping with a toxic workplace.

Sara enjoys spending time with her family and friends on her farm in Texas.

Dr. Sara Baker, Founder of the Leadership Reformation

About the Author

Dr. Sara Baker is a thought leader in the area of positive leadership and healthy workplaces. With over 20 years of experience leading private and public organizations, she understands the challenges that employees face every day.

Sara is the author of Toxic Workplace Survival Guide, an essential resource for anyone who wants to thrive in spite of a toxic work environment or who is ready to quietly quit. In addition to her writing, Sara provides online courses for leadership development and coping with a toxic workplace.

Sara enjoys spending time with her family and friends on her farm in Texas.

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