Warning Signs of a Harmful Work Environment and Strategies for Overcoming Them

It is essential to ensure that your organisation is able to attract and retain the best engineering talent. Studies suggest that a negative company culture is a key contributor to employee turnover. Therefore, it is important to consider what constitutes an unhealthy workplace environment, and to recognise any signs that the culture of your organisation is not conducive to a positive working environment. Furthermore, it is essential to consider how to respond to a hostile workplace. For further information, please read on.

Toxic work culture entails what exactly? Where may one find the warning indicators of a poisonous work environment?

When management and staff do not collaborate to support policies and practices that promote a positive work environment, the result is a toxic culture which inhibits creativity and productivity. A toxic work culture restricts employees’ ability to think innovatively, make new connections, and succeed. Here are five warning signs that your workplace may be poisonous:

  1. Consistent burnout is a problem for employees.

    Pose the following three questions to yourself.

    Is there a lot of tension and unproductivity within your staff?

    Are they usually that uninspired?

    Do they just sit about waiting for it to get to pack-o-clock before they stop caring about getting anything done?

    Symptoms of severe burnout are evident and can be attributed to a negative workplace environment. This can lead to a decrease in staff productivity and ultimately have an effect on the organization’s financial performance. It is therefore important to regularly check in with team members to assess if they are showing signs of exhaustion.

  2. You need to manage your team on a micro level.

    It is well known that micromanagement rarely yields desirable outcomes. Teams are more likely to be successful when given the freedom to pursue their own ideas and see them through to completion. On the other hand, over-involvement in the day-to-day operations of a team can stifle creativity and lead to a lack of initiative from employees. Unhappiness caused by micromanagement can have a negative effect on productivity, and can even result in the loss of key personnel.

    See also: A List of the 8 Best Practices for Managing Remote Programmers

  3. There is a lot of employment turnover.

    High staff turnover rates can be indicative of an unsatisfactory working environment. It is natural for individuals to seek out new opportunities, so some turnover is to be expected.

    If employees are regularly citing dissatisfaction with the workplace culture when resigning, it may be time to consider what elements of the company’s culture could be improved.

  4. Workers worry too much about their place in the organization.

    Employees who lack a sense of inclusion may develop feelings of alienation, which can lead to a longing for control. In a negative working environment, authority is frequently determined by hierarchy. It is understandable that staff may want to move up in the organization, but in a hostile environment, individuals may be driven to pursue promotions regardless of the cost in order to obtain the “power” associated with a higher position.
  5. Toxic subjects are taboo, thus no one ever discusses them.

    There’s clearly something off about the atmosphere at work. The obvious problem, however, is ignored. Reminiscent of something?

    Your employees appear to be reluctant to discuss the company culture due to a lack of security. They may be concerned that speaking up about the hostile working environment could be fruitless or, even worse, result in serious consequences.

How do you cope with a hostile workplace?

It can be difficult to ensure that all of your team members share the same outlook and understanding. Despite your best efforts, not everyone will be able to relate to your approach. To ensure that your staff remain content and productive, it is recommended that you take the following advice into consideration.

  1. Establish a system for providing and receiving helpful criticism

    It is important to provide public praise and constructive feedback in private. This helps to provide guidance to staff on how to improve their performance, and also encourages them to stay with the company. Positive feedback is essential to ensure that employees feel supported and motivated.

  2. Avoid productivity paranoia and refrain from micromanaging.

    It is important to recognize that a lack of physical presence does not equate to a lack of productivity. Therefore, it is important to trust your team and provide them with the autonomy to tackle tasks independently. Avoid micromanaging, as this can be detrimental to morale, and instead look to establish measurable criteria with which to judge productivity. Employees thrive when they are given the freedom to make decisions without excessive interference from their superiors.
  3. Find the weak spots and establish guidelines.

    It is essential that everyone on the team understands their roles and responsibilities, and adheres to a code of behaviour in order to ensure effective teamwork. As a leader, it is your responsibility to clearly communicate expectations, and ensure that all members of the team are aware of them. Monitoring of certain team members may be necessary in order to maintain a positive working environment. It is essential that everyone contributes in order to make the workplace successful.

In conclusion

As a leader in the engineering field, it is your responsibility to provide a positive work environment where your employees can develop and feel secure. Encouraging a safe space where employees can express their frustrations without fear of repercussions is essential. It is also important to acknowledge and reward employees for their hard work and successes. You will find that even the smallest gestures of appreciation can have a notable impact.

Are you a manager of engineers looking for a team to develop software for your organization? Look no further than Works Teams. The artificial intelligence capabilities of Works allow us to provide you with a highly-skilled team of programmers that have gone through a rigorous selection process. For more information, please visit the Works Teams information page.

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