Is your business culture toxic? Here’s how to spot the signs and fix it


A toxic workplace can cause serious issues for your team and be damaging to your business. Business owners can often miss the signs of toxic work culture until it’s too late, so we’ve put together some signs for you to keep an eye out for, and how you can fix it.

1. Employee relationships are tense

It’s normal for employees to disagree now and again, but if those conflicts are constant or even malicious, you may have a toxic environment on your hands. This behaviour can also ‌take a toll on your employees. Some employees ‌band together within the workplace and can talk behind each other’s backs, fuelling workplace bullying. If your employees become a lot quieter, don’t speak up in meetings anymore, seem irritable, and their productivity drops, these could all be signs that they are being excluded and/or bullied

How do you fix this?

Employees become friends with coworkers who share common interests. However in a toxic environment, this can be a breeding ground for inappropriate behaviour, especially if no action has been taken and they think they can get away with anything without being held accountable. This needs to be nipped in the bud. Observe your team and identify what may be causing the problem, then once you discover where/when conflict arises, you can figure out the best way to correct it.

2. An individual is showing toxic behaviour

It’s one thing to tackle toxic behaviour at an organisational level, but sometimes it can stem from an individual. A toxic employee can create issues for your team, often making them feel uncomfortable and unhappy at work, and leading them to search for other opportunities. A toxic employee with a negative attitude has the potential to bring down their colleagues and spread that attitude, bringing down morale and productivity.

How do you fix this?

The first step is to speak with the employee directly, using specific examples of their behaviour and how it’s affecting the workplace culture. Help them create a development plan to address their behaviour. It’s important to recognise that sometimes other issues cause toxic behaviour, so ask them about their workload, their personal life, or if any other issues in the office are causing their behaviour.

3. Employees can’t speak their mind

When your employees are afraid to speak their minds, make mistakes or let you know when they have concerns, you might be dealing with a toxic work culture. If your employees believe they’ll be punished for making mistakes, they may feel like they have to hide them, creating bigger problems Without mistakes or concerns being expressed, there can be no innovation or growth. People don’t enjoy walking on eggshells and will end up heading somewhere else, taking their skills with them.

How do you fix this?

It’s your responsibility to foster a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable enough to express their concerns and mistakes. Ask your team how you can better support them and take on their feedback, even if it’s hard to hear. If you want your culture to change, you need to model that behaviour. Share your own mistakes and what you learned, creating a safe space for your team to open up. People help to grow your business, and if those people don’t feel valued, your business will suffer.

There may be several reasons ‌why a business culture has turned toxic, but it’s important to look at your leadership and set an example for how you want your business to run. Showing up every day with a positive attitude and setting boundaries to avoid burnout will support your team in their growth.

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