You need to get out from that toxic work environment – II

“My company asks for my ideas and that excites me. At a recent discussion on how we can bring about creativity in our communication campaigns, I presented a couple of new thoughts that were much appreciated. However, after I had shared my ideas and thoughts, I had no visibility on what happened to them. Then suddenly one day, I found my idea presented by someone from the marketing team. No credit was given to me. I felt awful and very disheartened.”

The above gives you a glimpse of how a toxic work environment looks like.

In a recent interaction with a colleague who is planning a career move, company culture topped the list of ‘to haves’ in the new job. How does one identify a company culture? ‘Talk with employees who have earlier worked in that organisation. Find them through social media. Read Glassdoor reviews to understand the reasons people stay/leave that company,’ were the tips given to me by this colleague.

The way around a toxic workplace

“Just leave the job,” my husband screamed at me when he saw the emotional wreck that I was becoming,” confided another friend to me.

Easier said than done. Money matters. It helps us survive and ensure we take care of our family and are able to fulfill our responsibilities.

In a situation where the choice is really not that simple nor easy, there are a couple of ways employees and employers can together work for creating a better workplace.

#People first

Employees are the biggest asset and also the largest cost to any organisation. Fostering a positive work culture is all about understanding people and their needs. Organisations need to ensure they live the values that the company exemplifies. Systems and processes need to be put in place wherein employees identify with these values.

#Strong induction system

First impressions alas, often last for a lifetime. How does a company welcome a new joinee, what kind of induction program is offered to the joinee, and how it demonstrates the vision and mission of the company – all of these can have a profound impact on the new employees. Use the onboarding process to build early employee buy in for your company’s culture.

#Develop clear job descriptions

I have come across many colleagues who are weighed down by doing things they were never supposed to do. The gap between the job description during the time of interview and what they actually land up doing was too vast to be bridged. This led to them being frustrated and disappointed. Over a period of time, they withdrew, and many chose to leave.

Managers and HR business leaders need to work closely to draw up the right job descriptions. This also ensures right people are selected for the right job.

#Have an open communication policy

Feedback is often viewed as critical and limited to being shared during performance appraisals. Employees often hesitate to walk up to their manager to express a different opinion or a counter argument. Or even express their disappointment. Managers need to schedule opportunities that enhance feedback on a regular basis. The creation of a psychological safe place wherein employees can express their feelings without fear is essential.

#Live and breathe work-life balance

Managers are often role models for their team. The organisation looks up to the CEO for guidance, motivation, and inspiration. The culture of work-life balance is top driven. Top management leadership needs to set the tone here. Avoid calling people post work hours. Ensure weekends are for personal and/or family time.

A toxic work environment can derail an organisation’s growth journey. At the same time, it can leave a deep scar in the minds of people impacted.

Creating a healthy work environment is no longer a choice. It is a much needed ask from any organisation that genuinely cares for its people.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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