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Playful Banter or Toxic Workplaces? How HR Can Spot the Differences

Man being put down by coworkers Toxic Workplaces and Common Signs for HR Professionals

HR professionals have a long list of human resource issues to tackle every day. From recruitment, hiring policies, and general management of the behaviour of a workforce, it’s no surprise that the subtle signs of a toxic workplace can be overlooked. Oftentimes, the playful banter between employees can be considered insignificant. However, at other times, simple teasing can grow into something much more problematic that must be addressed sooner rather than later.

Some companies brush off the banter between workers as playful or harmless. However, these interactions can develop into harassment and misconduct that can take the focus off work and have staff distracted by the company’s “politics.”

HR managers must know the differences between issues that need to be discussed between staff and the more complicated challenges that could require significant disciplinary actions.

Find answers to common questions related to toxic workplaces tailored to HR managers.

Toxic Workplace What is Considered a Toxic Workplace?

A toxic workplace is a broad term used to describe a workplace that is more focused on the conflict between staff rather than the business’s overall productivity. Toxic workplaces can emerge anywhere from traditional office environments to logistics companies, warehouses, retail stores, food, grocery, and healthcare settings.

What Isn’t Considered a Toxic Workplace?

Workplaces with limited instances of conflict and are focused on productivity are ideal for any business. No job site is completely free from toxic traits, but HR can work to implement policies that clearly outline what isn’t and is appropriate for work. A fair and equal work environment where all employees are valued can create a strong sense of camaraderie and help your business achieve its goals.

Messy Desk Six Simple Signs of Toxic Workplaces

Human resource professionals should recognize these most common toxic workplace traits:

  • Gossip and office politics are so prominent that many staff members are distracted from work. Toxic workplaces are focused on the conflict amongst management or others, taking the emphasis off productivity and leaving workers feeling uncomfortable and anxious when coming into work.
  • Widespread communication issues as a result of a lack of chemistry between workers. When tasks are forgotten about or never completed, this is a sign that there is a more complicated problem that must be addressed. Communication issues can result from some workers not wanting to collaborate.
  • Employees dread coming into work or have a sense of low morale. This could be a sign of several issues in the workplace, such as employees feeling undervalued or under-appreciated, are not compensated fairly, or are experiencing conflict between staff or management.
  • Employees are burnt out either by the expectations from management or the overall balance between work and life. Expectations may be too high, workers may not have the right tools or resources, or they are feeling pressure to perform.
  • High turnover is a sure sign that something is wrong with your workforce, whether it be workplace politics, toxic attitudes, or other issues tied to compensation and benefits. At times workers may move on because they aren’t satisfied with their accomplishments or see no opportunity to develop and take the next step in their career.
  • Demands from management are so intense that the overall wellbeing of an employee is not the focus but rather productivity. This can create an unhappy workforce, reduce productivity in the long run, and harm the company’s reputation.

HR Interview How HR Can Address a Toxic Workplace

Addressing a toxic workplace is no simple task, but there are several measures HR can take to address the issue. Conduct one-on-one interviews with employees to help assess job satisfaction and identify issues before they grow into greater problems. Getting to know the staff personally and trying to understand the challenges they face will ultimately result in a more productive job site that is rewarding for all those involved.

HR managers need every tool possible to help develop a safe and healthy workplace. Spot toxic candidates during the pre-employment stage with background checks, including criminal histories, identity verification, and financial record checks. The results from a criminal background check may have managers thinking twice before hiring certain candidates that could cause problems within your workforce.

Learn How ISB Global Services Can Work to Address Toxic Workplaces

ISB Global Services offers a wide range of background check solutions tailored to the needs of HR professionals in any industry. Explore our suite of products that not just include background checks, but also personality assessments and social media searches, helping to ensure the quality of your workforce, screening both new and existing employees. Complete your due diligence and ensure that your employees are free from problematic histories that can hurt your company’s productivity and create toxic workplaces.

Contact us directly to learn more about HR offerings, including background checks, financial record checks, identity verification, driving records, and more.
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