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Is your workplace toxic?

Is your workplace toxic?

Psychotherapist and positive relationship expert explains what a toxic workplace is and what the solution to a toxic workplace is...

Psychotherapist and consultant Gad Krebs explains how to determine if your workplace is toxic plus what you can do about it?

Gad's prime focus is on promoting and facilitating positive relationships - relationships with oneself, one's family and within one's business and beyond.


Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest is not only relevant in the natural world; it is an integral part of corporate life.

Companies can only survive if they, like their animal counterparts, are able to capitalize on their strengths, exploit the weaknesses of others and even, if necessary or possible, destroy the competition. Only the strongest thrive.

But like the animal kingdom, Darwin's theory is counterproductive when it plays out within a family unit. The pride works together, as does the troop and the herd. The culture of business in general may be cutthroat, but if a particular business' culture operates according to the rules of the jungle, the work environment becomes toxic.

The dampener of motivation within the workforce can be technical or endemic. Technical despair exists in those people who gain no satisfaction from their role. The environment may be pleasant and the salary may be fair, but if an employee does not enjoy what they are doing, there is little the employer can do other than finding them an alternate role.

The second symptom relates to hostile work environments, sapping the strength and motivation of even the most determined employees. Toxic work environments are a plague to anyone who has to endure them; they provoke terrible anxiety within the individual, which can destroy their productivity and quality of work.

Job descriptions are determined by technical tasks. A work environment is determined by relationships.

How do we define a toxic work environment?

A work environment becomes toxic when employees don't feel safe. The office is transformed into the jungle; colleagues are competitors and supervisors are predators.

Within a team, or a herd, safety and security results from a joint sense of camaraderie and mutual responsibility. In a toxic environment, on the other hand, intra-employee competition is not only developed, but encouraged. People have to learn to out maneuver colleagues, take credit for other people's work and blame others for their own failures, if they are to succeed. The team is sacrificed for the benefit of the individual; the herd begins to cannibalize itself.

If an individual enters their workplace like a participant in "Survivor", their commitment and attachment to the business will be diminished. Their physiological responses of fight or flight are permanently engaged, something that is both physically and emotionally exhausting. (Even boxers only have to go 12 rounds)

What's the solution?

Changing the work environment necessitates changing the culture. Creating a safe work environment flows out from a culture that values relationships and people over short term productivity. Investment in people, including concern for their physical and emotional wellbeing, will pay dividends in the long run. But if you demand productivity, without that investment, your improved short term results will be offset by the long term resentment.


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