Anyone who knows me knows I’m a high-energy, fun-loving guy. I’m always on the go, making sales, supervising roofing installations, or giving away another roof to a deserving veteran. I love spending time with family and friends, too. I believe that when you have fun, your whole life is better.
Many people are just like me. They love to have fun. But that doesn’t translate to the office. When they get to the office, they’re not having fun anymore. They turn into automatons, office drones who do what they’re told, don’t make waves, and go home frustrated every evening. People often follow this routine for years on end. Why? Because it’s easier to continue with something you know than to exchange it for something new and unknown.
Most people hate looking for a new job. But in my experience, the people who screw up the courage to leave an unsatisfying job for something new leave because of the work environment, not because of the work itself. Often these employees like the work they do. What they don’t like is the environment they work in every day, one that’s all work and no play. One where people and their efforts are put down on a daily basis. One where back-stabbing is routine. This is decidedly un-fun.
I call these places toxic work environments. They have a profound – and extremely harmful – impact on productivity.
Experts have discovered that a toxic work environment causes not just emotional and psychological issues but physical issues, as well. Depression, trouble sleeping at night, anger, stress, eating or other disorders, and fear can all be caused by working in a toxic environment. All these wreak havoc on the body, not to mention the psyche.
As an owner of several businesses thus far, I’ve always tried to create a working environment that makes people happy every day, one that my employees want to work in and brag about to their friends. After all, they’re spending eight hours or more at the office each day. Doesn’t it make sense to create a place that’s fun, lighthearted, and doesn’t take business too seriously?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to imply that we don’t get things done. We absolutely do. In fact, we’re amazingly productive every single day, and I attribute this to the notion that my employees are happy when they’re at work. We joke and laugh. We kid each other and play pranks on each other. We have fun. And it pays off in spades. My employees stick around for years, and I don’t have to be constantly on the lookout for new employees. That’s time-consuming and costs money. I’d much rather hang onto the people I’ve already got. They’re fun. And they allow me to be fun with them.
If you think you might work in a toxic environment – or have created one yourself – check out this list of common signs that your workplace is toxic. It might be time for a change.
- There’s a lot of office gossip and rumors.
- Employees use peer pressure to hold others back.
- Managers throw people under the bus during a crisis.
- There’s poor communication throughout the office.
- Everyone seems to be in a bad mood…all the time.
- Management is rude and/or disrespectful.
- Co-workers don’t pull their weight.
- Your peers grab accolades for something they didn’t do.
- There’s a high turnover rate.
- There’s no work/life balance. It’s all work, all the time. That includes “vacations.”
If any of these sound familiar to you, it’s time for a change. If you’re an employee, brush up your resume and start looking for something better. You shouldn’t have to work in an environment that rubs off on you so negatively. It’s probably impacting you mentally and emotionally already. It’s only a matter of time before it affects your physical health, too.
If you’re the manager who has created a toxic work environment, you have even more work to do. Get busy and clean the place up. Put some new policies in place, let go of employees who should have been fired years ago, and put on a happy face yourself. Treat people with kindness and respect. You’ll find it comes back to you in many unexpected ways. Happy employees are loyal employees, and they’ll stick around if they’re having fun. They’ll care more about your business. And their good attitudes will rub off on everyone they interact with: customers, vendors, peers, and you.
As management consultant, educator, and author Peter Drucker puts it: Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
Create a company culture that you’d like to work in. Make it fun for your employees. Then step back and watch your productivity rise!