There is a swathe of information out there about what businesses can do to improve their chances of success. We often hear of how a company can better maneuver in the market, hire better staff and seek out new opportunities, but rarely do we see people discussing the implications of a toxic workforce, how it damages success and what can be done to remedy this. Long before the workforce begins to slow down, get complacent or even turn on each other, there are plenty of signs that something dangerous is afoot, and here are 5 which could indicate that a workforce is starting to turn toxic.
Gossip Kings and Queens
The first signs that a workforce is unhappy will not take place in meetings or one-to-ones, but in the quiet of the cafeteria or the small gatherings taking place in common areas, where the gossip merchants are sharing their displeasure. The people who begin such a trend, are the ones who will need to be addressed. Perhaps they don’t consider themselves as having a future with the company, but their words and attitudes can quickly infect staff who otherwise have no issues.
Any smart leader can boost the morale of their team after just a few days of being a little more involved. Team members will be more receptive to their boss being move inovlved as they are unhappy to begin with, and by showing that you actually care, they will be very receptive. Morale can be low for a variety of reasons, but the one to weed out first is if team members feel undervalued. This can turn toxic very quickly and should be addressed as soon as possible.
In a situation where the workforce lacks confidence and have low morale, we generally see those in a leadership role take on the attitude of a dictator, which can turn into a vicious circle between leadership and their staff very quickly. Regardless of what started first, this paradigm must be fixed with haste because if not, one will continue to feed the other until the levee breaks, resulting in staff or management departures, and a heavily damaged business.
Another early sign that the workforce is feeling dejected, is that the human spirit begins to disappear, the greetings carry less emotion, and there is a general feeling of despondency in the air. As soon as a member of staff feels as though they are a part of the machine rather than a key person within that machine, they will begin to act in a very different way, offering little emotion in their job, and showing less cordiality between their colleagues and management.
Absenteeism Starts to Increase
Very rarely do you see a large amount of absenteeism at the same time, which can ocassionally occur doing illness being passed around the office or something similar. But, if the rate of sick days and excuses for lateness or no-shows begins to increase, without such a healthbeing apparent, one can only draw the conclusion that the staff are losing faith in what they do in their job. Once this begins to happen, the workforce already has a certain toxicity to it, which must be resolved, both for the happiness of the staff, and for the sake of the business.
Any of these signs can be dangerous for a leadership team which is why they should always be on the lookout, and making sure that they are nipped in the butt before they grow, resulting in a team which is not working to the level that the business needs.