Toxic Workplaces Cause Even More Employees to Disengage and Quit

 In Employee engagement, employee experience, Employee recognition, Leadership, Leadership Development, leadership training, management, Rick Conlow, Servant leadership

Toxic workplaces raise their ugly heads again and again at employees. As a result, they disengage and resign. While companies say they are for employee engagement, as a recession looms, they speak out of both sides of their mouth.

Toxic Workplaces Cause More Employees to Disengage and Resign

According to Gallup, employee engagement continues its downward trend with only 32% of employees engaged in the US. Interestingly, remote employees have a 37% engagement rate. (Global engagement is 21%.) Furthermore, the #1 reason for employees quitting jobs involves a toxic workplace.

Employee disengagement is an estimated $25 Trillion worldwide problem that openly stunts business growth and steals profits. Gallup estimates less of a dollar impact, but they do not take into consideration the impact of disengagement on the customer experience.  Companies tend to ignore that people who are genuinely engaged and happy at work deliver superior performance and optimal results.

5 Examples Toxic Workplace Approaches

  • Google sales executive warns and threatens employees that if third quarter results, “don’t look up, then there will be blood on the streets”.
  • Zuckerberg of Facebook told his employees at a meeting, “Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be there.” Thereby threatening layoffs due to the company’s poor performance.
  • CEO Braden Wallake of HyperSocial, posts a crying selfie about how laying off people made him upset. It was met with backlash because it was about him not his team.
  • Through an email, Billionaire Elon Musk of Tesla demanded that all employees come back to work. And he heaped on a 10% layoff threat to his workforce, later clarified to mean white-collar employees.
  • Hundreds of Gannett journalists walk out in a coordinated effort to protest a series of emails by management threatening layoffs. CEO Mike Reed said Gannett must, “responsibly and proactively [align] resources to our highest strategic priorities and [lower] costs to be in line with revenues.”  Meanwhile, Gannett spends millions on lawyers for fighting unions, and violating wage and hour laws.
  • The US is the only wealthy country in the world without a national program for parental leave. In addition, a survey of over three thousand companies by the Society for Human Resource Management, shows that companies with paid leave beyond what the law requires, dropped from 53% to 37% since 2020.

The potential downturn in business and a decline in profits brings out the worst in most companies’ leadership. As a business owner I know you must make money. However, executives’ pay plans and fear drives them to do stupid things like the above.

When push comes to shove most organizations see employees as numbers or pawns, not as partners. Pawns you can move around, change, or discard with no emotional attachment. The relationship is a fleeting low priority. As a result, employees react in fear and worry, which destroys their morale and productivity.  Ironically, a company’s single minded bottom-line thinking costs them even more money.

A Contrast to Toxic Workplaces

In contrast, one of our clients received a big order with strict strings attached that taxed their capabilities. Rather than making an executive decisions from on high, they held meetings with their employees to gain their help. They explained the situation, that they needed a 25% productivity gain and could not hire more people because of the current economy, and they had to perform to get paid. So, they broke into small groups and asked for input and ideas.

Toxic Workplaces Cause More Employees to Disengage and Resign

As a result, the employees said that for every 5% improvement in productivity they should give a day off with pay. The company agreed and it exceeded the productivity gains. Later, when the revenue came in, the company gave bonuses to everyone, too.

Pulling It All Together

With partners the relationship matters. To maintain trust, you must genuinely and empathetically communicate—talk, listen, and collaborate with employees.  This is the way of Servant Leadership, a needed but foreign approach in most companies. If only the companies above did that instead of blaming and threatening. If only managers everywhere put people first!  Employee engagement would soar.

Also, do you want to help lead the change in transforming leadership practice and thought to elevate “People First”? See our page ServantLeadership@RickConlowInternational on LinkedIn.

In addition, go here for our RealTime Learning & Training–aToxic Workplaces Cause More Employees to Disengage and Resign leadership and personal development website. Micro-learning and career advancement at your fingertips!

Finally, see Rick’s newest book. The Dynamics of Servant Leadership: Inspire Your Team to Achieve Extraordinary Goals!


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