The saying goes: one bad apple spoils the barrel. It’s the same in business: a toxic environment can drag your profits down.

The conservative cost of negativity to a business is $36,000 per employee, according to Anese Cavanaugh, creator of the Intentional Energetic Presence methodology.

But what is a toxic trait? Well, the big ones to look out for are overconfidence, a lack of personal accountability and narcissism. Employees with such qualities won’t sully themselves with work that is ‘beneath them’, and they are not team players.

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And don’t think that it’s just employees who can create a toxic environment. Management can just as easily bring negativity to the workplace. There are four clear traits that indicate toxic management:

  • Isolationism – They don’t reply to important emails or calls so employees struggle to get their attention.
  • Lack of vision – They don’t give clear, concise goals or ‘next steps’ for the business.
  • Infallible – A toxic manager is never wrong. Whether fact or fantasy, what they say goes.
  • Favouritism – They give undue favour to particular employees and neglect others.

If left unchecked, these traits will contribute to a negative or toxic work environment, which can cost your business – not just financially, but also in terms of employee health and wellbeing.

Businesses suffer when their employees do

The obvious risks to employees’ health are blindingly bright screen glare and crippling chairs. But, in a toxic office environment, it’s not an employee’s body that suffers – it’s their mind. Research has shown that the mere act of incivility between co-workers can cost a business millions.

Then there are other common stress factors such as gossiping and workplace bullying. Coping with these issues can contribute to heart attack, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes and skin disorders.

And, naturally, people’s work suffers when they do. A survey of 14,000 professionals found that:

  • A quarter of mistreated employees admit to taking their frustration out on customers.
  • 38 percent also said they ‘intentionally decreased’ the quality of their work.

Negative work environments reduce productivity and profits

There can be an 18 percent reduction in productivity when people lose passion for their work. Studies show that these employees are absent more often, have more accidents and make more mistakes. They are also less loyal, meaning the more toxic a work environment is, the more likely people are to leave. Factor in that it can cost a business more than £30,000 to replace an employee and you'll see why it’s so important to keep them happy.

Happy employees are more engaged in their work, and when they’re engaged, a business can make 26 percent more profit per employee. In a work environment defined through negativity, this is impossible. Research suggests that a high stress, cutthroat business will experience long-term employee disengagement.

Toxicity causes unnecessary spending

Employee disengagement costs the UK £340bn every year. But it’s incredibly simple to combat this by creating a positive work environment. Little things like open communication, recognition of success and development opportunities make a huge difference to employee happiness. As for the negative employees, make sure you address their behaviour before it becomes an issue for the rest of the team.

At the end of the day, neutralising a toxic work environment is about treating your colleagues with respect and courtesy and ensuring that others do the same. If you can make this happen then they will return the favour by working hard for your business.

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