No one wants to work in a toxic environment, not even the people that are already in it. You can feel the negative energy in an office where people are unhappy and the atmosphere is tense. A place like that is no place for new ideas or creativity or growth. So if you’ve read our previous blog and found that your workplace checked all the boxes, it is time to roll up the sleeves. Detoxification of a workplace consists of changing its culture. It sounds difficult to do, sure. But it is not impossible if you follow these steps.
The first step in transforming your workplace is accepting that it needs work. Most employers stay in denial, or simply maintain the status quo because change means making an investment that don’t have time and money for. Here’s a reality check for you: your work culture has been infected and it is probably already costing you more than you realize. None of your employees want to work, not when they have so much animosity toward the company. So, the sooner you accept that your company needs help, the sooner you can work to make it better.
2. Stop. Reset.
So how to you start the change? With a clean slate.
Step back and you’ll realize how ill-fated everything has become. Like an outdated, rusty machine, you end up with a higher depreciation than production. Time to get a new machine—or in this case, a new environment.
This will include changing your goals, the strategies that are used to attain that goal and the day to day tasks your employees get. Everything needs a makeover. It will take time and the transition period can be problematic. But change is a process and detoxification isn’t pretty while it’s happening. It is the end result that matters.
3. Call an Emergency Meeting
Next thing you need to do is get all your employees in on this. Call an office-wide meeting and announce that things are going to change around here.
Because your office has a toxic environment, you are going to be met with a lot of cynicism. People won’t expect much from a place that has already affected their mental wellbeing. Which is why you have to reach forward and take in suggestions. Ask them exactly what it is that they need. What should stay, what should go? What would make them happier? Is it flexible timing? A change in management styles? Paid days off? More employee days? More challenging tasks?
Just know that every single member of your workforce is an agent of change. Everyone has to be in on this to make a difference. Convince them that this is for their own wellness.
4. No More Secrets
You’re rebuilding your office culture from scratch and you need to go by a new manta: practice open communication. Secrecy in the workplace has proven to cause frustration among employees. Whether it is an issue that the office is facing, or certain information that they need to carry on their task, a lack of information taints an employee’s patience and morale. Sometimes, employers or managers want to withhold information from employees simply to reinforce a sense of superiority. If you or one of your managers has been practicing secrecy—stop. Your environment depends on it.
5. Open Door Policy
Which brings us to the next step. Eliminate ‘barriers to entry’ in your workplace. But it is not enough to say that you have an open door policy… you must practice it, as well. When an employee is unhappy with something, they will confide in another employee that they trust and the negativity will spread like wildfire. But when your employee trust you (or the HR/another manager), they will confide into someone that can offer a palpable solution. More importantly, your employees won’t feel nameless and voiceless anymore.
So practice an open door policy and encourage employee to come to you with problems, suggestions, new ideas no matter how big or small they are.
6. Spend Money
I’m sure you realize that making all this change requires that you spend money. To keep your employees happy, you’ve got to make sure they are comfortable and they’ve got the things they need, be it supplies or the chair they sit on. Spending on little things like arranging an activity or an event will also go a long way.
Similarly, refurbishing an entire work culture and strategies will not come cheap, but it is necessary.
7. Attitude Makeover
Your employees will mirror your attitude toward the organization/them. Take some time to self-reflect and give your own attitude a makeover and watch as the effects trickle down. In a happier workplace, you see employees smiling, have positive discussions, and be excited about improvements in the office. In a toxic workplace, you find more resentment than anything else. Make changes that make your employees happier and you will see their attitude start to change.
8. Time, Effort, Resources
The last step is to give it time, effort and resources. A change in work culture will not happen overnight, but if you put in the effort, it can happen fast. You’ll have to work with every single employee to find out what needs to be fixed and take the right steps in doing so. Of course this will take resources. You’re going to take the people and equipment you have to build a culture where otherwise you’d be using it to make money. But all the time, effort and resources will be worth it. Your company will get the detox it needs and you’ll have yourself a fresh start. Maintain the positive attitude and radiate it, and the results will start coming in. Good luck!