Here’s how to turn around a toxic culture in your business

Gone are the days of employees seeking out a job for life and riding out the good times with the bad until they reach retirement. Instead, these days your best employees will pack up and leave if they aren’t equally loving the work or the culture of your business. Workplace ‘culture’ is about the way people (including you) think, act and interact within your business. A great workplace culture will create motivated employees who go above and beyond in their roles, delivering excellent outcomes for your business. On the other hand, a toxic workplace culture can result in poor employee performance, higher staff turnover, reputational and/or brand damage and reduced business profitability. So if your culture is in need of a boost, here’s how to turn around a toxic culture in your business.

1. Lead by example, people are watching

The example set by you, the business owner, is what establishes the culture for the rest of your employees. Consider the kind of workplace culture you’d like to achieve; in what ways do your behaviours and interactions with those around you support it? Your people will look to you for what behaviours are, or aren’t, acceptable within the organisation. If there are inconsistencies between the way you behave and the way you expect your employees to behave, then this will have a negative impact on your workplace culture. Lead by example, your employees are naturally looking to you to set the culture, tone and social norms within your business.

2. Recognise behaviours reflect your desired culture, and call them out when they don’t

When your employees reflect the right kinds of behaviours that support a positive workplace culture, take time to recognise them for it. Recognition could come in the form of a simple verbal ‘thank you for …’ or it could be more formal recognition, like presenting the employee with a monetary reward or gift. By recognising the behaviours you’d like to see in your business, you set clear and positive path that your employees can follow. But remember that for this approach to be truly effective, it’s equally important that you call out the behaviours that don’t support your desired culture. Consistency, transparency and integrity in this space is key.

3. Hire people whose values align with yours

Achieving the best workplace culture for your business also requires that you hire the right people who’ll get behind it. As a business owner, it’s important that you’re able to clearly articulate the type of culture your organisation strives to achieve. This helps potential employees visualise what it may be like to work for you. For example: if you’re looking to achieve a dynamic culture that values open communication, collaboration and sharing, then for someone who prefers to work independently without involving others, working for you may not be an attractive proposition. Meanwhile, for those people whose values and personalities align with yours, hearing you describe your culture will get them excited and engaged.

4. Never stop working on your culture

The culture of your company is continuously moving and evolving in response to events occurring inside and outside your business. The best workplace cultures are achieved when business owners make it an ongoing priority. Remember, this is about creating a great place for your employees to work and delivering better business outcomes. Everyone wins when you improve your workplace culture!

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