Toxic Work Behaviors

Toxic work behaviors can be any kind of negative behaviors exhibited by a superior or co-worker that impacts the work culture negatively. Toxic behavior at the workplace includes gossiping, bullying, impoliteness, mistreatment, and passivity. When these toxic work behaviors left unchecked, they can lead to unproductivity, low morale, burnout, poor work-life balance, high turnover, and workplace stress. That’s why it is essential to monitor your employees’ work behavior on a regular basis. It helps you prevent toxic behavior cases that can be harmful to workplace harmony.

It is true that happy and positive employees are more productive. However, creating a positive work environment that makes them productive is quite challenging. When the employees feel uncomfortable, threatened, and scared in his/her workplace due to abuse, offensive behavior, and intimidation by his/her manager or colleague, then a toxic work environment created. In this guide, you will learn the top toxic work behaviors and how you can prevent them. Our tips will help you foster a productive and positive work environment in your workplace.

These are some examples of toxic behaviors that could happen in any workplace:

1. Narcissism

A balance of giving and take makes the workplace environment more positive, but too much self-focus, a.k.a. narcissism, can negatively affect this positive work environment. It interferes with the ‘give and take’ compromises and the development of positive culture

2. Aggressiveness

This toxic behavior can affect your employees’ productivity and overall safety of the workplace.

3. Passivity

Too much positivity can lead to unproductivity.

4. Lack of credibility

When employees don’t follow through with their commitments, then a lack of credibility occurs. When they don’t fulfill their commitment, then it breeds mistrust.

5. Lack of adaptation

The world is continuously changing, and businesses require adaptation. However, if you resist change and show rigidity, it will lead to failure and obsoleteness. So, it is essential to promote a work culture that can adapt to any kind of change.

6. Disorganization

All companies need discipline, focus, and, most importantly, a strong structure. When employees don’t have a personal organization, operational requirements will not be met for discipline and focus.

7, Gossip

It is a killer behavior that negatively affects teamwork. It also causes conflict and weakens working relationships.

8. Intimidation or bullying

Any type of bullying can adversely affect your company’s morale. Employees can take legal actions against the company that allows toxic work culture.


Steps to avoid and deal with toxic behaviors 

There are several steps that a company can take to deal with such toxic behavior in the workplace.

Step 1

When you conduct the interviews, talk about positive work culture and look for the sign of toxicity.


When you conduct initial interviews, don’t forget to check the references. Also, train your executives to spot the toxic behavior’s signs and how to deal with them.

Step 3

Encourage your employees to report toxic work behavior. Introduce a reporting system where your employees are protected.

Step 4

You must ensure to include the action and behaviors of all employees in their reviews system or performance measurement.


You must detect the problem ASAP. This way, you can offer training to your employees if required.

Step 6

If there is no way to deal with such toxic behavior, then you may terminate your employee. The employee manual should include all the behaviors that are not acceptable for your company. You can use them as the ground for suspension. Make sure to document any talks and incidents with your employee before termination for his/her behavior. Make a strict policy for bullying, harassment, or any other toxic behaviors. Select any employee to oversee this policy. Send a circular to all and tell them what action you can take against toxic work behaviors.


How to prevent a toxic work environment

Maintaining a productive and positive workplace environment needs vigilance. Here are some tips that help to prevent a toxic work environment that can negatively affect your team.

Establish an anti-bullying policy

In order to prevent toxic behaviors, you need to establish an anti-bullying policy at your workplace. This policy must have reporting procedures. Almost all organizations have code of conduct policies, but these policies are general and only address financial or other unethical misconduct. You need to create and maintain a policy that specifically addresses bullying and other toxic behaviors.

Create a culture of performance and well-being

Companies also create a culture that focuses on performance and well-being with the dimension of social management and social awareness. Also, introduce a feedback mechanism at the workplace that allows you to spot the toxic behavior of employees. Organizations can use assessment and employee engagement tools to solicit feedback about the behavior of team leaders and the company’s working conditions. With engagement and feedback platforms, your organotin can deal with toxic behavior and its negative impacts like poor culture, harassment, and anxiety.

Prevent narcissism in the workplace

Narcissists are likely to overreact, and they don’t like to be criticized. As a manager or team leader, talk to them and understand their perspectives. Once you made your evaluation, give them so time to strengthen their emotional intelligence. Also, encourage them to take help from their colleagues to make up for their weaknesses. This not only promotes teamwork but also helps in personal development.

Foster positive relationships among employees

When it comes to toxic work culture, the key ingredient is animosity. Of course, it means that employees are not good friends. However, all team members are supposed to be completed their responsibilities at the given deadline and courteously collaborate with other team members. You need to foster positive relationships among all employees and introduce some good team-building activities to get the ball rolling. You will see that hard feelings are left after team-building games like organizational Jenga.

Encourage responsibility

If a team leader withdraws from his/her job responsibilities, then it sends a message of disrespect to the company and staff members. In this case, you need to be proactive and promote responsibility in the company. But if you are trying hard to improve the work culture in your company but you still see toxic work behavior, you should take some serious actions like you can send a write-up or terminate the employee.

Prevent disorganization 

If you want to deal with disorganization, then time management and good work are the best solutions. But of course, improving the organization skills may take time like every process. As a superior or team leader, you need to show some patience and support to such employees to prevent disorganization in the future. Make sure that all the staff must stick to the work schedule. Break down their daily tasks into subtasks and explain to them the advantages of time management and efficient organization. Your support will help them to understand the value of time and promote the organization.

Increase input from employees

Your team members believe that they are not valued when you don’t ask for input, leading to decreased contribution and productivity. When you show your employees that their thoughts and opinions are valued, then they feel more confident and do their best to perform their daily tasks. Keep in mind that your employees are the assets that help you in your business growth. So let them go untapped.

Negative gossips

Negative gossips are a poison to the workplace. It takes someone down that causes disruption. They spread negativity with their spin campaign among team members, especially new hires. You can talk to these gossipers individually. Don’t send them emails with such messages like don’t get involved in negative gossips. Meet them in person and ask the reason for their toxic behavior at the workplace. Encourage them to share positive stories. Also, don’t forget to share the stories of those employees who work harder, think out of the box, and come up with innovative ideas.

Focus on solutions, not complaints

Employees’ complaints are more contagious and toxic than anything else. Whether it is breaching dress code policy, bad-mouthing, or leadership, complaints shows the mindset of defeat instead of feeling empowered by the organization’s culture. Of course, you want to overhear solutions, not complaints. When employees believe that they can deal with any problem, they take action to resolve issues rather than complaining. You will see positive company growth when the focus turns to what can be done better.


Bottom Line

You need to promote a positive work environment by encouraging positive behaviors such as respect, trust, compassion, listening, and empathy. Squeeze out toxic behavior like insubordination, sabotage, intimidation, negative gossips, and disrespect. You must also do group campaigning against such negative and toxic behavior. This way, you have better chances to root out the toxic employees. If toxic behavior still persists, you can bring the third part to protect yourself and document meetings with these employees to undue drama and anxiety. Use these tips to create a healthy work environment and prevent toxic behavior in your team at the workplace.



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