October 18, 2019

A Toxic Work Culture is Forcing Your Top Employees to Quit

A toxic work culture is costly. Very costly. Employee turnover is costing companies billions of dollars each year.

High-performing employees are jumping ship at an alarming rate. New hires are ushered in to plug in the holes – until, after a brief stint, the new hires quit too.

The revolving door keeps on revolving. Productivity, efficiency, and profits keep declining.

Is a toxic work culture to blame?

According to a survey conducted by researchers at Randstad US, 60% of employees have left jobs, or are considering leaving, because of bad bosses.

While many factors contribute to a toxic work culture, it typically starts from the top. The leadership may be oblivious, encouraging, or ignoring the perpetuating toxicity that is running rampant within the company.

It is in the leaders’ hands to course correct, straighten the ship, and sail forward with the top talent on board. Straightening the ship and eradicating toxicity can be a matter of success or demise of your company.

Straightening the ship starts with you, the leader.

It’s time to take off the rose-colored glasses (or the blindfold).

As objectively as you can, determine if your company shows any of these signs of toxicity:

 Signs of a toxic work culture 

Disrespect, belittlement, accusations of wrongdoing

Favoritism, gossiping, office politics and drama

Harassment, aggressive behavior or bullying

Blaming and punishment is commonplace

Lack of empathy, of appreciation, of support


Encouragement of dishonesty

Excessive employee sick days, missed work

An increasing number of work mistakes and accidents

High employee turnover

Poor communication and unclear expectations

Strained relationships and interactions between management and employees

Constant pressure to accomplish more than possible, overworked employees, complete disrespect for work-life balance

Unrealistic workloads or deadlines

Employees work in a fear-based environment: afraid to give feedback, afraid to make a mistake, afraid to speak up, fearful of punishment

Unsupportive Leadership

No praise for good work

Unsafe or morally questionable working conditions.

It may be hard to admit that your work culture may be toxic, but…

…if you were nodding your head and answered yes – your work culture appears to be suffering from toxic work culture.

. . .

Here’s the thing:

Your company’s success depends on your workforce.

Your employees need to have a psychologically safe workplace.

They need to feel appreciated, heard, understood, respected, and valued.

They want to have opportunities for improvement and development.

They expect honesty, authenticity from their bosses – and the company.

They thrive when given autonomy and authority to get their job done.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Maya Angelou

How do you fix a toxic work culture?

A toxic culture cannot take root without a fertile ground. The symptoms cannot survive without a support network.

Start by examining your company’s leadership. Work your way across the organization to the employees.

Listen. Take note. Plan a repair strategy. Fix the problem.

Change won’t happen overnight. But not taking action is something you can’t afford to do.

Show the way: Respect, Trust, Empathy, Appreciation, Guidance.

“Culture is more important than vision. Some leaders have great vision, but have created a toxic culture where that vision will never happen.” 

Phil Cooke

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