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Does Toxic Workplace Culture Harm a Employee’s Productivity?

How Does Toxic Workplace Culture Harm a Good Employee’s Productivity? Positive and collaborative workplace culture is one of the core strengths of any successful business organization. Employees need more than just financial incentives to feel motivated and loyal to the company. When they operate in a healthy work environment where their contribution is valued and respected, and they share an empathetic relationship with their employer, they will feel more passionate about their work. This ultimately reflects favorably in the company’s productivity and competitiveness.

How Does Toxic Workplace Culture Harm a Good Employee’s Productivity?

What Happens if the Workplace Culture is Negative?

Where the workplace culture is toxic or negative, it can induce stressful and negative employee experiences, which could eventually result in reduced and adverse business outcomes and low productivity. A toxic culture is akin to a disease that gradually affects all the stakeholders and produces toxic leaders, toxic co-workers, and finally a toxic organization.


The costs of doing business will increase because of toxic workplace behaviors. The company’s brand image takes a hit, employee morale goes downhill, a high degree of absenteeism and high employee turnover occurs, the physical and mental health of the employees is affected, and it becomes increasingly difficult to attract top talent to the organization. The combined effect of this toxic workplace culture is the loss of productivity and poor organization outcomes.   

Challenges of an Employee in a Toxic Workplace

Employees that experience a toxic workplace culture will typically face the following issues:

Workplace Ostracism

An employee may start feeling socially excluded by their colleagues while at work. This affects the psychological well-being of the employee, leads to high levels of job dissatisfaction, increases stress and anxiety, and lowers job productivity. The employee may stop being proactive or innovative in their work performance, and gradually lose their motivation to add value to the organization.

Workplace Aggression

A toxic workplace culture gives rise to workplace incivility, bullying, and aggression in the form of verbal abuse, disruptive actions, and hurting the self-esteem of other employees. Discourteous and deviant behavior of a supervisor can undermine an employee’s image and damage their confidence. When harsh, rude, or disgraceful commentary comes from the management or senior employees, it encourages others to do the same to their peers and subordinates.

Workplace Harassment

In a toxic workplace, some employees may be singled out on the basis of their gender, race, origin, age, belief systems, color or nationality, and made to feel humiliated. This type of culture of harassment at the workplace can be a constant source of stress for certain employees. At the same time, workplace harassment also negatively impacts the emotional well-being of the victim’s peers. Employee morale gets hurt, and its damaging effects will slowly begin to show in the company’s business results and productivity.

High Job Burnout Rate

Employee mistreatment, harassment, interpersonal conflicts, and other elements of toxic workplace culture will eventually lead to a high job burnout rate. Job burnout refers to an employee’s low motivation, emotional exhaustion, reduced commitment, and a gradual detachment from the workplace tasks.

The employee who is feeling burned out will reveal signs such as regularly being late to work, high absenteeism, increased error rate, failure to meet deadlines, and withdrawal from team activities and projects. On a personal level, the burned-out employees could suffer through the loss of self-esteem and a high degree of stress or depression. The overall depersonalization and fatigue of the employee at the workplace lead to poor job outcomes and low productivity.

What can the Company do to Foster a Positive Workplace Culture?

Employers should focus on creating and implementing workplace policies, procedures, and communication protocols that counter toxic factors like ostracism and harassment. The organization’s “Code of Conduct” should not only be confined to financial and ethical aspects but also specifically address what type of workplace behaviors are encouraged and which ones are prohibited.

Multiple mechanisms for reporting toxic behavior should be put in place, and employees should be given the confidence that they will not face retaliation for making a complaint against a supervisor or a group. The employer should take steps to ensure that worker and manager level training in the organization includes training on how to respond and report any kind of workplace toxic behavior.

These clear and firm steps will go a long way in improving workplace productivity and competitiveness of the organization. 

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