BIG ISSUE, 2nd June 2023: What exactly is a toxic work environment?
Below is a short excerpt.
Toxic work environments are in the news, but what does one look like?
Victoria McLean, a career coach and founder and CEO of career consultancy City CV, says it’s important to recognise what a healthy work environment looks like. She tells The Big Issue: “A good workplace environment is about much more than your physical location – so while table football, rooftop yoga and beer Fridays sound great, they’re not actually what make a great workplace.
“A good environment is more about the trust that you have among colleagues and managers, that everyone has a voice and is heard, the flexibility you have within your role, strong collaboration, open communication, good work/life balance and mutual respect.”
So, what makes a toxic one? McLean says: “This is the exact opposite – there might be secrets and whispers, gossip and rumours, inflexible rules or one rule for some people and another for others, bullying, harassment and limited communication. You’ll probably find employees suffering from burnout and stress, lacking in motivation and a culture of blame.”
But many work places can be stressful, with lots of pressure and rules. Does that make them toxic? You can tell the difference between the two by the way they make you feel, says McLean: “In a toxic work environment, you typically won’t find true collaboration or transparent communication. These are qualities you can find in a high-pressure environment because they are necessary in being productive and efficient.
“You’ll also find that even though it might be stressful, your work is still valued and everyone understands the reasons why they’re doing what they do and the overall company goals they’re working towards. You’ll get open, constructive feedback and the workplace will be equitable – lack of equity is a sure sign of a toxic environment.”