Fear? Apathy?

Revelations of high-profile harassment cases have continued to expose the murky underbelly of toxic workplaces. Our eyes have been opened to the very fact that bullying, discrimination and harassment at work exist.

However, while our eyes appear to be open, we continue to turn the other cheek. We have a heightened awareness of toxic behaviour, yet that doesn’t necessarily mean it is being confronted. 

One rule for one, one rule for another

Toxic behaviour seems to be permitted for some and not others. Why? Because we make excuses for them: “It’s just her way”, “he’s harmless”, “but he’s loyal”, “she’s the manager so likes to have the final say”.

A fear of change

Confronting and addressing an employee’s inappropriate behaviour will impact the organisation. But we tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive impact of addressing – or even acknowledging – toxic workplace behaviour.

And it is this fear that not only prevents victims coming forward and speaking out, but also prevents the behaviour being actively challenged.

“What happens if they leave? Will they take people with them?”

“He has such a great relationship with clients, what will they think? Will they take their business elsewhere?”

“She is a top performer and one of our only female leaders, it would be detrimental to both the bottom line and to the organisation’s reputation to lose her.”

The question that should be asked here is, “what will happen if they stay?” What is the long-term, negative impact of their continued toxic behaviour on the organisation and its people? And what is the positive impact on the organisation in not tolerating toxic behaviour?

Toxic behaviour is toxic for business

Whether an employee is the top-performing sales person, has been with the company since day dot or has a high public/client profile, toxic behaviour is toxic for business.

And let’s not forget that employers have a duty of care to their people and are at risk of claims being brought against them in allowing bullying, discrimination or harassment to persist or go unchecked.

The working world is also evolving. Tolerating toxic behaviour is no longer being tolerated! Millennial professionals are more engaged, aware and vocal then any other generation. They’re also acutely aware of your duty of care as an organisation, and highly motivated by social consciousness and morality as fundamental to business culture.

Ridding the workplace of toxic behaviour can have a hugely positive impact for business, especially in retaining and recruiting top talent – and the talent of the future.

If your workplace culture is in need of a detox, talk to Tell Jane. We offer advice and training for assessing your culture and detoxing your workplace, as well as an anonymous reporting helpline for opening up the lines of communication for your people, email us at lisa@telljane.co.uk to find out more.

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