Company Culture

A toxic work culture is bad for business - here’s how to improve yours

work culture

Operating in a toxic work culture is a lot like trying to have a good time at a party while you’re wearing Spanx, chatting to someone spectacularly boring about Bitcoin (*snores, jerks awake*), nursing a luke-warm drink and losing feeling in your feet due to a poor choice in must-stand-and-chat footwear.

In short, it’s a major suck fest, and not just for the folks at the bottom of the metaphorical food chain - for the ones at the top as well. It also happens to be very, very bad for business. Why? Take a look: 


Why a toxic work culture is bad for business?

Talented employees leave toxic work environments. Sure, there may be a few who might stick around long enough to go the route of the frog in the pan of boiling water, but most of the really good ones will jump ship as soon as they get a whiff of a non-lekker culture. It’s as simple as that. 

According to a recent survey of nearly 23 000 South African working professionals and over 45 000 students by Universum SA, more than half of young South African professionals are unhappy in their jobs and are looking to change employers within the next 12 months.

This relentless churn is costing Mzansi’s businesses a lot of money in the form of: 


  • Hiring costs. Attracting and retaining top talent requires the advertisement of open positions, the screening of applications, and the interviewing of candidates (often multiple times). 
  • Onboarding costs. Training a new employee can take a lot of time and resources, often of the human kind. When established team members have to take time to train a new recruit, you’re losing out on their productivity and placing increased strain on the existing members of their team. 
  • Decreased productivity. New employees take a while to learn the ropes. While they’re getting the hang of your company’s processes, tools, and policies they simply won’t be as productive as someone who has been around the block. Inexperience can also lead to costly mistakes in the long run. 
  • Poor employee engagement. No man is an island; when one of your star employees leaves to seek out greener pastures it has a ripple effect that can negatively impact employee engagement levels throughout your enterprise as their peers start to question the reasons behind their departure and reevaluate their own working environment. 

Read more here 👉 Staff absenteeism really does affect your bottom line - here's how

In summary, a toxic work culture is bad for business because it costs your company money due to sky-rocketing hiring costs, onboarding costs, decreased productivity and poor employee engagement. Pretty hectic, right? Fortunately, there are ways to address this type of soul-destroying uuuuurgh at your place of work. 

Here are a few tried and tested ways to improve the work culture at your company, starting today: 


  1. Listen and learn continuously. If you want increased productivity to bloom throughout your work environment, you need to listen to your employees, validate their experiences, and follow up with tangible steps to address their issues. Regular pulse surveys are a great tool to keep your finger on the emotional pulse of your enterprise. 
  2. Understand what your employees do. In order to assign your employees with realistic workloads and deadlines, you need to understand what they actually do. Spend some time with each team member to find out what they are responsible for and how long their most important tasks take. This way you will be better equipped to manage your own expectations and provide workable timelines on important projects. 
  3. Communicate clearly and regularly. One of the simplest ways to ensure that your employees feel included in the team is to keep them in the loop. Frequent feedback on their and insight into the general lay of the corporate land is a great way to make the circle bigger and get everyone engaged and involved. 
  4. Recognise and reward consistently. Recognise your employees’ efforts and reward behaviour that aligns with your company values. 
  5. Keep the playing field level. Playing favourites is a recipe for disaster. Make a point of holding all your staff members accountable to the same set of rules. It helps to be open to feedback in this regard; employees are more likely to spot power silos and unfair company policies than those at the top.  

Read more here 👉 Employee Recognition: The ultimate kickstart for a great company culture

So there you have it - five tried and tested strategies that will enable you to create a happy working environment in which your team members to feel stimulated, recognised, engaged and ready to bring their A game at all times.

If you want to stimulate a positive workplace culture, start by listening and learning continuously, understanding what your employees do, communicating clearly and regularly, recognising and rewarding good work consistently and keeping the playing field level. Do this and watch your employee retention rates soar. 

In the meantime, if you would like to take some tangible steps towards making recognition and reward an everyday part of your office landscape to boost a positive work environment, we invite you to take a look at our SaaS-based employee recognition platform.


Try it out for FREE and get a taste of what a major difference a happy work culture can make in the motivation and engagement of your most valuable team members. Click the button below to get started 👇

30 day free trial bountixp