Why Every Leader Needs to Worry About Toxic Work Culture

by Feb 21, 2024

Employees quit their jobs for different reasons, and a major one is because of a toxic workplace environment. In fact, researchers discovered that between April and September 2021, toxic culture was the main reason why employees decided to leave their jobs.

A toxic work culture refers to a situation where negative behaviors are tolerated within an organization. It can quietly harm employee happiness, stop new ideas from flourishing, and weaken a company’s foundation.

As leaders, it’s essential to recognize that being successful isn’t just about financial gains, it’s also about creating a positive work environment. Toxic cultures are pervasive issues that leaders can’t afford to overlook.


Why is it Crucial for Leaders to Address this Issue?

Working in a toxic environment amplifies stress, burnout, and mental health concerns among employees. This negative culture not only affects their emotional well-being but also leads to feelings of undervaluation and disconnection from their work. 

This makes attracting and retaining talented workers a considerable challenge, as potential hires are discouraged by poor work environments, damaging the company’s employer brand. 

Negative workplace cultures contribute significantly to unfavorable Glassdoor reviews, influencing the choices of job seekers who prioritize positive company cultures. Unhappy employees opting to leave can result in substantial replacement costs, often reaching up to twice the departed employee’s annual salary.


The High Cost of a Toxic Work Culture

Beyond emotional impacts, a toxic work culture translates into physical health issues. Employees facing injustice at work have a 35% to 55% increased likelihood of experiencing major diseases such as coronary disease, asthma, diabetes, and arthritis.

In addition to the pain imposed on employees, a toxic culture also imposes costs that flow directly to the organization’s bottom line. When a toxic atmosphere makes employees sick, for example, their employer typically foots the bill and deals with the lost productivity when they’re out sick.

The financial toll continues with disengaged employees, as three-quarters of them actively seek new employment. This lack of productivity can cost companies up to 18% of the employee’s salary annually and 37% higher absenteeism rate. Additionally, low corporate integrity is linked to lower financial value for the organization.

In essence, toxic work cultures come at a steep cost. Can your company truly afford the consequences of a toxic work culture?


Building a Positive Culture for Sustainable Success

Creating a positive culture is instrumental in growing a business and ensuring long-term success. Assess the ROI or cost of your current culture and take actionable steps to enhance it with our free tool, our Culture Calculator.

To combat toxic behaviors, leaders must pay attention to warning signs and proactively work towards creating a positive and healthy work environment. (Feel free to share this free course with anyone who could benefit from it!)

Our “Bystander to Upstander” training program empowers your employees to foster a culture that rejects toxic behaviors. Along with that, we have many more culture projects and initiatives we can help implement in your organization.

When you’re ready, reach out to us. We’re here to support you in building and maintaining a positive work environment! 



The Civility Partners Team

Civility is the platform for organizational success—it is absolutely necessary for an organization to reach its goals. Download our Ebook on Seeking Civility to learn more on how to create a workplace free of bullying and abusive conduct.


About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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