Are you factoring your workplace into well-being initiatives?

by Jul 14, 2022

Mental health and wellbeing is top of mind for employees and employers across the globe. You know this. 

What you may not know is that you could be tackling burnout from the wrong angles. 

According to McKinsey Health Institute, while many employers are offering a variety of benefits like well-being days, more flexible working hours, and meditation app subscriptions, these individual-level interventions don’t actually resolve the causes of employee burnout. 

That’s because, according to the article, the highest predictor of burnout is toxic behavior.

In other words, if you aren’t addressing burnout by addressing toxic behavior – your mental health and well-being initiatives are falling short.


Your initiatives focused on the individual aren’t enough – you’ve got to take a systemic approach.

Consider, for example, the other organizational factors that work against mental health and well-being, including (but certainly not limited to): having a sense of being on call at all hours, unreasonable workloads, feeling a lack of inclusion or psychological safety, lack of social support and/or connection, mistreatment from clients or customers, or ambiguous roles or responsibilities. 

All of these issues and more require leaders to address them head on, because no amount of yoga can. 

(Incidentally, that last item is one of the biggest predictors of engaging in toxic behavior. Just check out my interview with Ståle Einarsen, one of the founding fathers of the International Association on Workplace Bullying & Harassment and its conference, and 30 year researcher of toxic behavior.)


So now that you know your mental health and well-being initiatives should start by addressing toxic behavior, where do you go from here?

As one of the only consultants on this planet with special expertise in turning around toxic behavior and culture, we have some thoughts. 

Your first step is to conduct a climate assessment, if you haven’t already. To be clear, I’m not talking about an engagement survey, or a well-being survey, I’m talking about a climate assessment.

This is a snapshot of your culture in time. Our assessment asks about engagement, internal communication, relationships, inclusivity, and more. In other words, we look at all of the factors that we know can cause people to engage in bad behavior, feel burned out, or focus on leaving. 

Once we have the data, we assist our clients in developing and implementing a plan for positive change.

To address ambiguous roles or responsibilities, we might suggest a new or upgraded performance conversation. 

To address toxic behavior we may engage in company-wide training on respect and intervening when witnessing toxic behavior. Managers may also get training on coaching team members engaging in toxic behavior, in addition to coaching for performance improvement.

Of course, we also specialize in coaching those executives who may be engaging in toxic behavior themselves. 

These are just some of the ways in which we’ve had success turning around toxic cultures. (Case studies here.)

In the end, the one thing I know as sure as death and taxes – if you aren’t consistently focused on building a positive and respectful workplace, it’s not going to happen. Your supervisors and managers should be made aware of their responsibility to, and provided the tools to, proactively build a positive work culture. 

Take some time to review our short little assessment: Does your organization foster a culture of respect and inclusivity? The more “no’s” the more likely your mental health and well-being initiatives are falling flat, because the more likely your employees experience burnout due to workplace culture. 



Catherine Mattice & the Civility Partners Team


P.S. Contact us if you’d like more information about our climate assessments and how we can help turn around your toxic workplace. 

P.P.S. If you want to learn more about resolving toxic workplaces and behaviors, I encourage you to join me at the International Association on Workplace Bullying & Harassment conference in Sept. In-person and virtual tickets are available. 

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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