7 Habits That Could be Promoting a Toxic Work Culture

If you’re suffering from toxic work culture, then it’s high time to reexamine your working habits. Could you be promoting a toxic work culture without knowing?

Read on to find out what those habits are and how to stop them.

How a toxic work culture develops

Humans, by nature, are social animals. Even the most introverted person will crave human interaction at some point.

However, as a famous writer said, “two people can never read the same book.” This shows that humans are a diverse species. Each of us is different in our own ways, and we have individual personalities and points of view. That’s why when we gather together, there’s bound to be disagreements.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Diversity in the workplace is good. But even the most homogenous of societies tend to fight among each other. You can only imagine what happens when different people from totally different cultures and backgrounds gather together. This is exactly what goes down in an average workplace.

With differing values and beliefs, it’s normal for co-workers to have misunderstandings now and then. But if those disagreements and petty fights are left unchecked, it can create a deep division in the workplace.

Until one day, you find yourself loathing your job and the people you’re working with. This is how a toxic work culture starts.

In short, a toxic work culture doesn’t emerge overnight. Instead, it’s a product of a work environment that tolerates (or even promotes) toxic work habits.

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What does a healthy work environment look like?

A healthy work environment is where all the employees work positively towards the business’ success. There aren’t any I’s in the team. Everyone should work as “we,” and that’s what they should pride themselves on.

They should act as a single unit to ensure better business. There can’t be any loopholes in the team, and if there are any, they should be dealt with accordingly.

A healthy work environment is characterised by the following:

  • highly interactive;
  • workers engage in healthy discussions;
  • employees enjoy a positive frame of mind;
  • self-respect is prioritised, and;
  • there is clarity of roles.

Moreover, everyone is happy with each other’s success, and they strive together to achieve a common goal.

If an establishment can create such a work environment, nothing can stop it from being a great success story.

Impacts of toxic work habits on employees

A toxic work culture tends to have a far greater impact on the employees than one can expect. It won’t only destroy the performance of the employees, but it can also have a significant negative impact on their personal lives as well.

Some of the most significant impacts of toxic work habits on employees include:

  • development of mental health issues;
  • constantly having to worry about job security;
  • the employees feel as if they are being exploited, and;
  • the team spirit withers away.

Habits that create a toxic work culture

As mentioned, toxic work culture isn’t something that starts immediately or is going to end immediately. Instead, it is a mixture of many toxic habits that keep on piling and intoxicate a healthy work environment.

Let’s have a look at some of the habits that can create a toxic work environment:

Negative gossips and chatter

Gossip and chatter in the work environment are all good and acceptable if you are doing it for fun, but if you are doing this to bring down someone or use it as a tool to degrade someone, this should not be acceptable by any means.

A workplace is usually a diverse environment where everyone comes from widely varying backgrounds. But, if you talk about something to make them feel bad, you are laying the foundation of a toxic work environment.

For example, if someone’s way of working is different from you or achieving more than you in a shorter period, this doesn’t mean that you should get jealous of them and start bringing them down via your negative chatter and gossip about them. On the contrary, one needs to be more considerate to avoid creating a toxic environment in the office.

Lack of accountability

Accountability is one thing that can maintain a healthy work environment. If there is a lack of accountability, and people know that they can get away with anything, this gives them the license to do whatever they feel like doing, and this can never work in a healthy work environment.

From top to bottom of the hierarchy, everyone should be held accountable to create a sense of equality among the employees.

Everyone must adhere to workplace policies, and breaking those policies should have uniform consequences no matter one’s rank.

Poor communication

There is no problem in the world that dialogue can’t solve, right? But, for that, you need to communicate with each other.

One of the major reasons that promote a toxic work culture is the lack of communication among the employees or between the employees and employer.

To avoid communication gaps and allow more open communication, there should be an employee feedback system in place.

Poor working attitude

People working in a healthy work environment maintain a positive attitude that aims and strives towards one mutual goal.

However, if there is a poor working attitude among the employees or even the employer, it rubs off on the entire workplace and leads to toxic work culture.

A workplace with a positive attitude strives to achieve success as a unit, and everyone is happy with the success of others. However, if there is a lot of gas-lighting and other negative tactics are used against one another, then it will always be a challenging task to maintain a healthy work environment.


“Honesty Is the best policy.” We have heard this quotation a million times in our lives, and if we want to maintain a healthy work environment, we need to follow it completely.

A workplace should be your haven. It should be a place where you can blindly trust your colleagues, and there should always be clarity of thoughts and ideas. Everyone should be honest with each other so they can climb the stairs of success together.

But, if everyone is lying to each other, the mutual trust vanishes, and it establishes a toxic work culture that can wreck the organisation.

Constantly trying to outdo each other

If you want to create a healthy work environment, your approach should be inclusive rather than exclusive. You should always put the team ahead of yourself and strive for common goals rather than achieving personal milestones.

If you keep on prioritising your interests with that of your colleagues, you are only destroying the peace at your workplace and spreading toxicity, and that is never a good thing to do.


Procrastination is one of the easiest ways to kill productivity in the workplace. As a famous proverb goes: “don’t wait for tomorrow what you can do today”. You should be productive rather than a procrastinator. Be disciplined and try to complete the assigned tasks within the deadline.

Constantly putting off tasks can only lead to more time wastage and less productivity which results in toxic work culture.

How to change a toxic work culture

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How to change a toxic work culture

The following tips may be followed to change a toxic work environment:

Communication must be improved

It means that there should be clear communication among the different levels of the hierarchy of the company. Seniors should be easily accessible, and any problems should be resolved through proper dialogue.

Everyone should be aware of the organisation’s goals

No one should sail the boat on their own. There should be a clear plan that everyone must follow. Whenever you are working towards one mutual goal, everyone on the team should work to ensure success. This can really help to kill a toxic work environment.

There should be a level of respect among the seniors and juniors

The seniors must always guide the juniors with the problems at hand, and the latter must, in turn, always respect the former. However, this does not mean that the juniors don’t get to have their say at all. On the contrary, every person on the team, regardless of experience, should contribute towards the company’s success.

Everyone should respect the privacy of each other’s personal lives

One of the primary reasons for a toxic work environment is when people gossip about their colleagues’ personal lives. This can never be an ideal situation, and it only leads to hatred among colleagues.

Hence, everyone should respect each other’s personal matters, and even if you’ve known about a person’s secret, remember that it’s not your story to tell. Keeping a clear difference between personal and professional life is a must for a happy working environment.

A friendly atmosphere must prevail

It’s always fun to work at a place where you think that everyone is your friend, right? So, to maintain a happy working environment, we first need to cultivate a friendly working environment.

There should be clarity of roles

Everyone should know what they are getting paid for and their responsibilities clearly defined. This helps avoid confusion and finger-pointing when something goes wrong.

No one should be above company policies

Uniform rules should apply to everyone. From the CEO of the company to the maintenance crew, everyone should be held accountable. This creates a sense of equality and prevents jealousy and resentment.

Implement some productivity hacks to discourage procrastination

As I’ve said, procrastination is an antidote to productivity. But rather than telling your employees not to procrastinate, you should show them how to avoid it by trying some productivity hacks.

In Summary

It’s undeniable that a toxic work culture can affect even people’s personal lives and overall health. This, in turn, affects their performance and productivity at work.

So to improve productivity in the workplace, and avoid promoting a toxic work culture, we need to put a stop to the toxic work habits discussed above. We should maintain a more empathetic approach and should be open to constructive criticism.

Everyone working for the company should have one common goal: to work as hard as possible for the betterment of the organisation.


About the Author

Mandy Schmitz is a freelance consultant and project management expert with 10+ years of experience working internationally for big brands. Join her on Changeaholic.com to learn how to optimise your business operations and find the latest software reviews.

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