Recruiting

How Employers Can Prevent Workplace Toxicity and Retain Workers

The American workforce continues to feel the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation. At the end of 2021, U.S. job openings stood at nearly 11 million, and over 4 million people quit their jobs in December alone.

While some workers are leaving their jobs for better pay or benefits, new analysis shows an increasing number are citing toxic workplace culture as a key factor in their decision to quit. This could be due to a workplace failing to prioritize diversity; ignoring or even rewarding unethical behavior; or perpetuating an environment where workers feel disrespected, undervalued, and endangered.

With the historically high number of workers quitting—and many rage-quitting or walking off the job without giving notice or otherwise allowing for time to hire a suitable replacement—it behooves employers to take time to review their workplace culture and ensure theirs is one of inclusivity and respect. This type of healthy, professional environment will not only help keep current employees productive but also undoubtedly help attract new talent that is looking to work in that type of setting.

Initiate the Shift, and Commit to Making a Change

While a company’s long-term success may depend largely on worker performance, a company’s culture must be determined and enacted by high-level leadership. It isn’t enough to talk the talk; from the CEO down, management should be prepared to embody cultural changes in the workplace. Employees will sense a disconnect if they hear company leaders saying one thing but doing another.

Clearly Communicate All Policy and Procedure Changes with Your Workers

Making decisions to shift a company’s culture in a positive direction is meaningless if those changes aren’t properly communicated throughout the organization. Workers cannot be expected to abide by new rules and policies if they are unaware of them. Employers can make use of companywide e-mails or hold staff meetings to clearly and transparently advise all employees on the timelines involved in any policy changes and explain how these changes will benefit the company and its workers.

Ensure Everyone in Your Organization Is Involved and Supportive of Culture Changes

Ideally, organizations are going to be fairly diverse and employ people from all walks of life; therefore, a company’s culture or policies will impact them in different ways. It is important that all employees be aware of and support any changes to an office’s culture or environment. Implementing too many changes too quickly can lead to confusion and dissatisfaction among employees, which may cause some to want to leave.

Proactively Seek Feedback from Employees About Implemented Policy Changes

The best way to determine how a company’s policies and procedures are impacting employees is to ask for feedback. Setting up an enhanced, Web-based reporting system or another dedicated employee feedback system is a great way to seek input on the policies you implemented. These systems can be customized to include a number of different topics and categories so associates at all levels can feel comfortable giving their honest feedback, as well as reporting instances of misconduct or other areas of concern to management.

Work Towards Improving Your Company’s Culture Every Day

Improving a company’s workplace culture is not a static exercise or something that can be accomplished with a single statement or e-mail. It is management’s responsibility to maintain a consistent and compliant review of employee feedback and to address all reported concerns in a fair, equitable, and timely manner. Companywide change starts with decisions made but can only be successful if all employees work daily toward their collective goals and remain united in a shared system of values and beliefs.

Creating a workplace that is free from toxicity is essential to maintaining a comfortable environment people can feel good working in. Therefore, employers should invest time in evaluating the impacts of their policies on their employees and making necessary changes before workers become disengaged and start looking for the exit.

Tom Miller is the CEO of ClearForce.