Dealing With a Toxic Workplace – Employer Responsibility

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It is unfortunate that being in a toxic workplace seems to be relatively common nowadays. Although championing a healthy and supportive workplace has been urged by many, it seems that toxic workplaces are still an issue that needs to be tackled. A survey by Instantprint shows that 7 in 10 or 68.9% of UK workers have claimed that they have worked in a toxic workplace at some point in their careers.

With a heightened awareness of mental health and striving for more balanced lifestyles – employers should know that they have a responsibility to maintain a healthy workplace. Ultimately, continuing to have a toxic workplace does not benefit anyone involved. The risks of poor mental health among employees can lead to increased absenteeism and even people leaving their jobs – increasing turnover rates and leading to more hiring expenses.

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Toxic Workplaces

Toxic workplaces can be caused by various factors. The most common cases of toxic workplaces are often caused by harassment, discrimination, bullying, stress and unrealistic expectations – among other causes. Over a third of UK adults are reported by CIPHR in 2021 to have experienced discrimination in the workplace. Furthermore, 23% of UK workers have felt bullied at work – according to a survey by SME Loans.

When a workplace becomes toxic, it will be difficult for employees to focus and commit to their work and careers. Generally, a workplace can be seen as harmful if employees feel constantly tired, depressed or physically ill beyond the regular amount of work stress. It is known that people are unable to do their best work in a toxic workplace which can cause damage to their health and well-being.

Signs of a toxic workplace can include:

  • Poor communication, rumours and gossip
  • High employee turnover rates
  • Unproductive leadership, narcissistic leadership
  • Lack of employee growth and development
  • Unmotivated workers
  • Burnout

When these signs start to show, employers should take responsibility to address the issue.

Employer Responsibility

All employers have a duty of care towards their employees. This means that employers must be all they can within reason to support the mental health, safety and well-being of their employees. On top of that, if the workplace becomes toxic due to discrimination, then the employer has the legal duty to protect their employees from that. As toxic workplaces can affect mental and physical health, as well as overall well-being, this becomes a responsibility for employers to tackle.

Ensuring a healthy workplace should be a top priority for employers. When toxic patterns start to show, employers should investigate the root cause and address the matter accordingly.

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Employers can also adopt these recommendations to ensure a healthy workplace.

  • Rewarding and recognising employees for their contribution
  • Maintain good and open communication throughout the organisation
  • Actively promoting employee wellness – both mental and physical
  • Having clean and comfortable working spaces
  • Encouraging team building activities, ensuring good bonds between workers
  • Promoting work-life balance

Employers should be aware when their workplace starts to show signs of it becoming a toxic workplace. Encouraging healthier practices for their employees should be a top priority that is constantly upheld in the organisation. A healthy workplace is the ideal state of any workplace and is the only workplace environment that can provide sustainable growth and development for both organisation and employees.


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