10 Ways to Fix Toxic Work Culture

10 Ways to Fix Toxic Work Culture

The primary cause of toxic work culture is poor leadership. About one-third of employees working in a toxic environment are afraid to say anything about it because they fear they’ll be ostracized or fired. Unhappy workers are less productive, make more mistakes, and cost companies more money. Whether it’s remedying mistakes or hiring and training new employees due to high turnover, businesses end up losing out in every sense. However, with open communication and genuine mindfulness, businesses can easily turn things around for the wellbeing of their employees and their bottom-line. 

In order to heal a negative environment, first look for the warning signs:

  • Are there social cliques within the company that take part in bullying behavior, exclusion, or favoritism?
  • Do poor communication and unrealistic workloads create stress, illness, and fatigue among employees?
  • Is there a sense that the employees are closed off, anxious, or fearful or do they often call in sick or come in late?
  • Are working conditions unsafe or are employees being asked to do immoral or dangerous tasks?
  • Are there harmful discriminatory policies or wage gaps creating division?
  • Does management ignore their team’s concerns?


There may be more destructive, underlying issues but these are the most obvious signs of toxic culture.  Once identified, it’s important to act. Unrest in a work environment can escalate quickly.

After identifying the factors that are contributing to a toxic work culture, you can fix it by building the trust back up between leaders and employees. To do this, it’s important for management or executives to set the example themselves.

Here are ten ways to build (or rebuild) a positive culture:

One

Have a positive presence. Don’t sit locked up in your office all the time. Let your employees know that you don’t place yourself on a pedestal by engaging with them regularly throughout the day.

Two

Emotional intelligence is key to any great relationship. Create an excellent atmosphere for communication. Keep the door open for employees to express concerns or ask questions without fear of ridicule or losing their jobs.

Three

Be willing to teach employees procedures and policies by living them. Leaders that lead by example create a more favorable workplace vibe.

Four

Show your staff appreciation and recognition where it’s due. Let them know that they’re valuable and without them, the company would fail. Be sincere and point out specific things that they succeed at.

Five

Consider each person’s skill set by assigning projects or teams that will give them a chance to shine and use their strengths to the best of their ability.

Six

Respect each person’s boundaries and needs whether it be time off for a religious holiday or letting them communicate an HR issue.

Seven

Coach in a constructive and supportive manner. Ask powerful questions that help them formulate new ways of doing things if something isn’t working, and support their individual job growth and potential.

Eight

Be fair to all employees. Treat all of your employees with respect and equality.  Honor their diversity and individualism.

Nine

Create camaraderie between employees and leaders through socialization and sharing. For example, host a weekly or monthly event like Bagel Fridays where the company supplies everyone with breakfast and coffee to encourage a comfortable and communicative workplace setting.

Ten

Give your employees the freedom and flexibility to make decisions that best suit their projects or work goals. Within reason, this autonomy will help build trust and make employees feel more confident and valued

The causes of toxicity and hostility in the workplace are generally linked to negative attitudes among employees regarding management procedures. Workplace culture can transform when employees feel safe, respected, and heard. Although these suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg, they can help and inspire you to be the change your fellow teammates need in order to have a positive work experience. 

To dive deeper into this conversation, join us for the 2019 Symposium for Coaching in Diversity and Inclusion. This is a premier industry event for coaching and diversity on Oct. 3rd, 2019, the theme of which is “Culture At Work!” This event holds a spotlight on the use of coaching as a toolkit for diversity and inclusion and promotes and celebrates diversity in this ever-growing field. We hope to see you there! To learn more, please visit us here. If you’re ready to purchase tickets, you can do so here

CoachDiversity Institute provides customized coaching solutions to forward-thinking corporations, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and government entities. Join us in November for our inaugural coach certification cohort at Howard University. Learn more here, or contact us today for additional information.