Don’t let a toxic workplace drive away your best employees! Here’s a list of pitfalls to avoid for a healthy working environment in the year ahead (and beyond).
As you may know, most new year resolutions don’t make it all the way to the end of the year–not even close. So with the first month of 2024 behind us, now is a good time to take a breath and look at what really needs fixing. One of the best things you can do for your career, your team, your company culture, and your business is get rid of toxic workplace practices.
Here are a few big ones to target if you want to increase retention, strengthen leadership, and ensure a healthy workplace culture.
Big Brother Micromanagement
The COVID-19 pandemic may have normalized hybrid work, but it also digitalized one of the top signs of a toxic work environment: micromanagement.
There’s no better way to say “I don’t trust you” than to literally watch your employees’ every move. If you’re considering any kind of output monitoring, take a moment to ask yourself why you don’t trust your people. Reflect on this honestly and calmly. Then have a conversation with your people without playing the blame game. Ask what they suggest to address any known issues.
Make sure they feel like part of a solution, not a problem.
Putting Customers First No Matter What
“The customer is always right” may have a certain ring to it, but we all know there’s a price to treating customers like gods.
All around us, we’re witnessing the decline of shareholder capitalism, in which profits and shareholder return are the ultimate drivers of business strategy. The future is stakeholder capitalism. That means everyone with a stake in your company—customers, suppliers, and employees, among others—should reap the benefits of good business.
Let go of the toxic obsession with customer feedback as the singular sign of success.
No Opportunities for Internal Mobility
Though some people see work as “just a paycheck” and don’t care much about promotions, there are many more who appreciate the chance to change things up. That could mean climbing the ladder to the C-Suite, transferring between departments to expand a skillset, or moving away from an ill-fitting position or team.
A strong company culture allows internal mobility for employees who want it. A toxic work environment locks people in place.
Promoting Useless Leaders
Bad bosses are bad enough, but bad coworkers who become bosses will send people stampeding to the nearest job search website.
Be vigilant about promoting the right people—and yes, that can be tough. Maybe the team leader who gave that great presentation was sharing his team’s collective hard work. Or maybe he’s just a good presenter who did all the talking.
Here are a few tools you can implement to get a clearer view of what’s really happening and give your people a say in who their future leaders are: 360 reviews, anonymous feedback, and open forums.
The Family Façade
Bonding with coworkers and creating a healthy rapport with bosses is one thing—insisting that every member of a team is “family” is quite another.
Here’s the truth: Your company isn’t your family. The power dynamic is entirely different. Families don’t determine how much money you make, where you’re allowed to be from nine to five, when you can eat lunch, or how many days you can take to recover from the flu. Not to mention, families can’t fire you.
Toxic work environments lean on this “we are family” façade. Healthy workplaces create a respectful culture based in reality.
Failure to Reward Achievements
People who do well generally like to be rewarded for their effort.
This doesn’t mean throwing a party for everyone who meets their KPIs. Different employees want different things—some expect a monetary bonus, while others prefer extra time off, or even a shoutout in front of the CEO.
A healthy corporate culture clarifies goals, establishes that there will be rewards, and then (this is crucial) tailors those rewards so they are meaningful to the team members receiving them.
Communicating for a Healthy Workplace in 2024
Now that hybrid (or even fully remote) work is no longer a rarity, it’s easier than ever for the most talented human resources to leave jobs they’re unhappy with and seek out greener pastures. Don’t let a toxic work environment drive away your best talent. After all, you need them to make this the best year your business has ever seen!