How Leaders Can Reverse the Effects of a Toxic Workplace

Every company or business’s workplace culture is ever-changing and constantly growing, inevitably experiencing dips into negativity. What separates these spaces from being truly toxic workplaces is how consistent these dips are and the lack of subsequent intervention. Managers, supervisors, and other company leaders can certainly harm morale, but they can also do a lot of repairs. If you’re looking to improve your work environment from the top down, review this guide on how leaders can reverse the effects of a toxic workplace.

Know the Signs

Before beginning, it is important to note the differences between a toxic work environment and a hostile work environment. The signs of a hostile work environment are very different from a toxic work environment. For example, in a hostile work environment, employees may fear harassment and discrimination, which has legal ramifications.

A toxic work environment may involve gossip, a lack of trust, a lack of boundaries, high stress, negativity, and low morale, but it can easily turn into a hostile work environment if not treated promptly. If you are already at that point and feel like your company’s workplace culture has turned hostile, it may be time to hire a third-party coach or commit to legal action.

Evaluate Values and Act Accordingly

Your business likely has a set of values that they operate under, but they must mean something and be more than lip service. These values need to be something that your group can identify with and hold onto, and everyone needs to act upon them. For example, your company’s core value may be a commitment to being the top experts in your field. But if you don’t commit to training and continuing education, then are you truly committed to that value?

Employees, and even customers, can see right through a company’s statement and core values that are just in place for aesthetic purposes. Additionally, having a singular, tangible goal points everyone together in a singular direction to form an overall stronger team.

Commit To Consistent Communication

At its core, a toxic workplace lacks trust and good interpersonal professional relationships; when you establish a clear and consistent line of communication, that trust improves. When employees can trust you and feel informed, professional relationships improve. That doesn’t mean everyone will magically get along, but communication removes a lot of stress and strain on employees. The more stress you can remove, the less likely employees are to experience burnout and lash out at one another.

Accept Responsibility

Those in leadership roles should lead by example and take responsibility for any harm that management may have caused in the past. Additionally, don’t try and shift the blame on any one party; accept that the incident happened and form a plan of action to move forward. You may also want to consider leaving room for open and honest feedback and taking action to implement that feedback. Not only will employees feel understood and humanized, but they will become more motivated to look internally at their own behaviors that may contribute to a toxic workplace.

Ultimately, the best way for leaders to reverse the effects of a toxic workplace is to be honest and make sure employees feel safe and valued. When everyone feels heard and appreciated, the rest will fall into place.

Originally Published on

Michael D. Levitt Chief Burnout Officer

Michael D. Levitt is the founder & Chief Burnout Officer of The Breakfast Leadership Network, a San Diego and Toronto-based burnout consulting firm. He is a Keynote speaker on The Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting and Burnout. He is the host of the Breakfast Leadership show, a Certified NLP and CBT Therapist, a Fortune 500 consultant, and author of his latest book BURNOUT PROOF.