How to Stamp Out Toxic Behaviors in the Workplace

Do you dream of success for your company? You need the support of your employees, and they will rally behind your back if they don’t feel trapped in a toxic workplace environment!

Whether your business is still young or you are in the process of launching a new project in an established enterprise, you are well aware of the importance of nurturing the foundational component of your success: your people.

It is a well-known proverb that beginning a project is the hardest part of it all. However, if you build the required work on a solid foundation, the remaining phases will naturally follow until it is finished.

This idea also applies to achieving workplace success. You will succeed if you know how to establish a strong foundation for your company.

A pleasant workplace is one of the pillars of a thriving organization. Your organization will achieve its higher goals and develop a positive culture if you take steps to put your employees’ happiness first.

Former Harvard researcher Shawn Achor asserts that making customers happy is beneficial for the company. In his Positive Intelligence article from 2012 for the Harvard Company Review, he argued that in stressful conditions, businesses should keep people happy as opposed to having them work in a toxic workplace.

The Toxic Trend in Workplaces Today

Never having the thought of choosing between work and happiness – is the goal of great leaders and businesses for all their employees.

For an employee to feel happy and fulfilled, his career must prosper. On the other hand, he needs to be content inside first in order to produce excellent work. It is crucial that these two elements come together in one setting. Hence, every employer’s challenge is building a positive culture where workers support the employer and its business objectives.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, increased pressure on both companies and employees. According to research, more than two-thirds of American workers believe that burnout has risen recently.

Because workers are dissatisfied, toxic workplaces are becoming more and more common, driving out even the most qualified workers from their positions. We have noticed this trend, but the majority of businesses ignore the underlying problem, which yields serious ramifications.

Employers should, therefore, watch out for toxic workplace habits among their personnel if they want to reverse this trend. As a result, the top employees will be retained, and corporate operations won’t be delayed.

Senior leaders must recognize and eliminate the toxic corporate behaviors of staff members that contribute to disengagement and, ultimately, employee departure.

What is a Toxic Workplace Behavior?

Any type of behavior displayed by an employee or the management that has a detrimental effect on the workplace culture is referred to as toxic workplace behavior.

It covers things like being treated unfairly at work, gossiping, being impolite, and being late. These practices can have negative outcomes like depleted morale, unproductivity and burnout among employees, stressful work environment, lack of work-life balance, and high attrition rate if left unchecked or disregarded after employees make reports.

Most significantly, if toxic behavior is not halted or prevented, it can expose an organization to legal liabilities, reputational hazards, and other problems that could have been avoided.

Therefore, it’s crucial to regularly monitor employee conduct to avoid the proliferation of toxic workplace behavior that could disrupt harmony in the office. Employers and executives must be able to identify toxic workplace behaviors, their warning indications among the workforce, and the means of eliminating them from the workplace.

Most Common Behaviors

Starting and Spreading Rumors

Should spreading the news that Anne and Ben are finally dating and going out every Friday night be considered gossip? How about speculating whether Demi in creatives is trying to get into law school? How can employees know when informal office chatter crosses the line into potentially offensive or dangerous behavior?

The issue of how businesses determine whether rumors are within their legal authority to censor arises.

Employees behaving this way will become lax if they are not properly coached or disciplined for major wrongdoing against other workers since they can get away with it. They will soon be quicker to criticize leadership and disdain for corporate strategy.

What to Do About It?

Employers and leaders should act quickly to intervene when they notice that conversations are already turning into toxic workplace behavior and when employees are already criticizing particular people or groups.

As a responsible boss, you must give a warning and disclose that they are under observation. It’s also wise to constantly monitor their whereabouts while they are on business premises.

Their actions need to be controlled, or else they’ll not only influence their peers but also possibly go out of their way to make friends with new workers in order to disparage someone or something in order to gain attention or assert dominance.

Power Tripping in the Workplace

In the workplace, seniority and hierarchy can give terrible leaders a chance to abuse or annoy those in lower positions. A toxic workplace brought on by power struggles and insecure leaders causes subordinates to lose respect and regard for their bosses.

This kind of management will foster a toxic environment of mistrust where it is unsafe to share information, make suggestions, or work closely with others.

Feeling unsupported by your superior breeds worry for one’s own professional status. Being summoned by a superior may cause unpleasant emotions to arise because of the possibility of unfavorable interactions and feedback. The subordinate becomes doubtful of their talents and feels they have never done anything well.

However, confiding in a coworker also carries danger because they can turn their backs on the subordinate and form alliances with the bad superior. Why? Those kinds of tactics will probably win the favor of the superior.

Being direct with the manager, however, will also be a bad idea since he or she is toxic already from the start, someone who would not be willing to listen to reason. A subordinate is ultimately persuaded to resign rather than put up with the stress and uncertainty of the daily grind.

What to Do About It?

These managers need to be weeded out, notably by senior leaders and HR directors, especially those who work closely with the front lines or have a large number of subordinates. They must be actively vetted in order to prevent the organization from losing valuable employees.

Triangulation by Managers and Colleagues

Have you ever observed an employee refusing to speak with a peer or subordinate? Instead, he or she will happily speak with a third party who is not a part of the issue?

That is triangulation, a kind of toxic workplace behavior that is so prevalent in companies. On the one hand, the term “triangulation” also refers to indirectly obtaining opinions and observations from others instead of getting them directly from the person concerned.

The negative effect of triangulation is that employees act on the information they gathered from others without first discussing it with the relevant party. If the leader himself starts the triangulation, the consequences are far worse than when an ordinary employee does it.

There are two reasons behind this behavior. First, people engage in triangulation because they have worries and concerns but would rather choose to speak with the leader rather than the person they have a problem with. This stems from a fear of being misunderstood or retaliated against.

Second, people engage in triangulation because they lack the trust in their superiors and communication abilities to effectively approach one another about their issues or differences.

Without the benefit of direct interaction, it will become a practice for almost everyone to talk about everyone else whenever they are absent or not in the same room. It permits the growth of agendas, silos, and unhealthy boundaries. Additionally, it’s among the best ways to destroy a team.

What to Do About It?

The employer must be able to learn how to collapse the triangle by setting clear procedures on how to face conflicts. To avoid triangulation, employees must be properly briefed to engage in a conversation with the other person.

In more serious cases, employees must be able to come forth and request mediation from their superiors or human resource managers. Even if the two people cannot arrive at a resolution, these efforts will set an example of how to open discussion and resolve conflicts between employees.

When “triangulation” is prevented or destroyed, people in the company will be able to develop trust and good communication in case challenges arise.

Lack of Accountability

The absence of accountability between employers and employees is yet another toxic workplace behavior. Companies would struggle without a strong culture of responsibility.

Employees are less likely to take responsibility and accept responsibility for their errors in a workplace where there is no accountability. Since no one holds employees accountable for how they spend their time at work at the end of the day, they go about their day without purpose or aim.

Employers or employees who lack responsibility for their own work or the work of their subordinates refuse to acknowledge their own mistakes when something goes wrong. Instead, they place the responsibility on their coworkers and make every effort to defend their behavior.

They are more focused on maintaining their reputation and keeping a straight face while everyone is taking the blame or burden.

What to Do About It?

It’s simple to miss our own shortcomings. It’s simple to believe we are giving everything our best effort. You can’t count on your coworkers to have the courage to give you the right instructions. These have to come from the top.

Employees must be assessed by their superiors on whether they are contributing to fostering a sense of accountability at work. Managers and supervisors must speak up and take the initiative to help those beneath them.

Open lines of communication foster a more real and collaborative work environment where people are treated with respect. Improve your communication skills and frequency. Systematically approach communication by planning check-ins and evaluations.

A more effective and satisfied staff requires accountability. It encourages a culture of involvement, trust, and exceptional performance within the workforce. Team members become devoted to the company’s success and feel appreciated for their efforts when they can rely on one another.

Corporate Sabotage

Having ambition is a good quality for any person. Ambition encourages someone to succeed because it gives them the drive to keep going for their objectives in the face of obstacles. But occasionally, ambition can turn harmful. At that point, individuals sabotage one another in an effort to advance.

There are always those who will go out of their way to undermine their coworkers in order to gain an advantage. It could be anything, such as postponing an action to complete it, creating barriers in the way, or even spreading stories to harm one’s reputation.

What could be the reason for this toxic workplace behavior? Maybe one employee is up for a promotion, but his or her coworker, who believes they deserve it more, didn’t receive it. That person is now trying to ruin the other’s life and launch a divisive campaign against them.

What to Do About It?

An employee to whom such attacks are directed must be cautious and deliberate in their work. They must be able to safeguard themselves by recording their activities or the project they are working on in greater detail.

On the other hand, an employer who notices this type of conduct from a disgruntled worker must be able to develop fresh chances for everyone to advance. Every person who puts in their best effort and makes a worthwhile contribution to the company has to be recognized and elevated to roles where they can thrive.


Every employer and employee has a duty to foster a positive work environment by eliminating any harmful workplace practices that emerge and become obvious to everyone.

The organization’s employees need to create a culture where everyone looks out for one another and ensures that toxic actions are dealt with quickly.

Key players must be able to identify the issue, discuss it with the concerned people, and advocate for the battle against amplifying such behaviors if toxic workplace practices are to be countered.

Not only is building a positive environment advantageous now, but it also protects the business from potential legal issues and obligations.