What is workplace toxicity and how to spot it | QCS

What is workplace toxicity and how to spot it

Dementia Care
October 10, 2023

Workplace toxicity in your service that is not dealt with, is like a slow-release poison that could drip feed through your entire organisation. How do we recognise and look to eradicate this contagious toxin and prevent it from swamping everything that we have worked so hard to achieve?

Toxic Behaviour Traits

Some of the most common toxic behaviours take the form of:

  • Blaming others and not being accountable
  • Competitiveness
  • Complaining about the workplace but without acting
  • Taking credit for the work of others
  • Bullying
  • Taking on too much work – the martyr
  • Persistent absenteeism
  • Micromanagement
  • Insensitivity

Workplace toxicity is not always easy to spot, it can often take the form of friendly ‘banter’ between staff members. The crux of this is that if the individual on the receiving end of ‘banter’ feels unhappy, it wasn’t banter at all, they are not being oversensitive, it could be considered a form of bullying. This should be prevalent during the induction process in terms of educating staff on awareness of their actions and inactions. In order for this to be successful, a strong confident management team is required to insist that everyone is treated with respect.

To address the behaviour as a manager you need evidence, this could include:

  • Other employee comments
  • Observed behaviour
  • Complaints
  • Missed deadlines
  • Absence records
  • Employee feedback surveys
  • Lack of enthusiasm about working with a specific staff member(s)

If inappropriate behaviour is observed, it is far better to handle it straight away. Ignoring the behaviour and waiting for a better time will not solve the issue. Naturally, discuss matters tactfully and appropriately, but ensure you are completely clear the behaviour is unwanted immediately. Often individuals with toxic traits are completely unaware of their impact or thrive on the unhappiness of others, those individuals are not desired characters in your organisation, but if you happen to have a few or just the one, take all the steps you can to ensure all staff understand and promote your company values.

Prevention is better than cure, promote a positive workplace culture and many of these dynamics will naturally not present themselves, as your staff are more likely to have an optimistic and progressive mindset.


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