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Workplace “Detox”: Preventing a toxic workplace environment

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In a toxic workplace, employees are often underappreciated, stressed and treated with little empathy. Experts from the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices share how employers can prevent such an environment. 

A workplace culture refers to the shared values, belief systems, behaviours and attitudes that drive employee behaviours. It is an intangible ecosystem that makes some organisations great to work in, and others, less than conducive, even toxic.

Toxic workplaces can lead to increased stress levels among employees, loss in productivity, increased absenteeism, and high turnover.

What practical measures can employers then take to prevent the growth of a toxic workplace environment?

Establish principles of conduct and regularly enforce them

Workplace bullying and harassment are common in toxic workplaces. To prevent such behaviours, it is important to clearly define and set the parameters of unacceptable behaviour, with all employees held to these same standards and codes of conduct.

Take a zero-tolerance approach towards bullying and harassment, and have your employees undergo mandatory training that reiterates your organisation’s stance. Have structured grievance and workplace harassment procedures to address complaints in a consistent, serious and professional manner.

Reward and recognise fairly

In a toxic workplace, employees are often underappreciated, stressed and treated with little empathy. Work demands can also be unreasonable, resulting in burn-out and high stress. All this can add to the negative sentiment in the company.

Ensure that every individual receives fair opportunities for development, and support to perform the best in their role. And when jobs are performed well, it is important to express appreciation towards your employees, in ways that speak directly and are meaningful to them.

Employees who contribute should also be fairly and adequately rewarded and recognised for their contributions.

Last but not least, build a supportive environment by celebrating employee successes, so that every employee feels valued and motivated to do the best possible job.

Communication and organisational transparency

A lack of organisational transparency and timely communications can breed further distrust among employees, fuelling a toxic workplace environment.

Instead, having clear communications around major business decisions, the direction of the company and the reasoning behind decisions, increases employee trust and limits the unproductive rumour mill.

Likewise, dialogue and feedback must also be encouraged so that employees know that their input is valued.

Additionally, be sure to establish and encourage an environment of open communication, and create accessible platforms so that employees feel that they are able to speak up when issues arise, and are heard when they do.

The importance of core values

At the end of the day, your organisation’s core values and beliefs will shape the actions and behaviours of your employees. To set the foundation of a positive work culture, ensure that your organisation’s processes and procedures are guided by and aligned with your shared values, and reward employees who exemplify these values.


Is your workplace offering the right culture that allows your employees to thrive? As an employer, how aware are you of the culture in the office?

Assess your organisation’s culture by taking the Fair & Progressive Employment Index, and use this platform to gather feedback and understand how your employees feel. Embark on a learning journey towards building a fair and progressive workplace culture today.


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