Survey reveals why toxic workplaces are on the rise across the country

As Millennials and Generation Z continue to establish themselves as the most represented members of the modern labor-force, the term work-culture has begun appearing with greater frequency.

Up until very recently the ideologies and principles of an organization weren’t all that relevant to applicants or employees. This started to change in the last decade or so, thanks in large part to a concerted societal push toward accountability politics.

This was succeeded  by growing pains at the institutional level.  Although successfully amending systems (in a time that predates inclusivity) can’t be expected to transpire over night. Workers want to know that there is a sense of urgency on behalf of employers to expedite the transition.

As evidenced by a new study conducted by’s Research Institute in partnership with community engagement firm EVERFI,  regressive behaviors are on the rise in offices around the country.

“The findings from this survey are startling. Toxic workplace cultures are pervasive and it is critically important that organizations address workplace toxicity, as failing to do so can have far- reaching impacts for an organization,” said”Elizabeth Owens Bille, J.D., SHRM-SCP, Head of Impact, Workplace Culture, EVERFI.”

“Toxic cultures and harassment can lead to turnover, absenteeism, lost productivity, inability to recruit top talent, and the like, so the stakes are high for organizations to act to prevent these damaging behaviors from happening in their workplace.”

Because the curiosity is a relatively new one, organizations have yet to develop ways of attenuating the crisis.

Only 20% of the respondents felt that their company leaders were adept at preventing altercations before they began, only 25% felt that they worked under supervisors that were good at conflict management, only 28% felt their bosses were able to effectively discuss important matters that made them feel uncomfortable, and a modest 31% felt that their leaders were good at coaching their team members.

The employees surveyed all agreed on both the effect of this lack of mediation skills and the prevalence of them.

Fifty-four percent of workers felt that stress and toxic culture were fixtures of their respective offices, 42% reported a lingering sense of distrust among employees and leadership, and an additional 42% said the same. Twenty-nine percent are routinely bullied at work, 20% are discriminated against,  and 19% are frequently harassed in some form or another.

“Considering that organizations struggle with all of the above behaviors in the workplace, it is perhaps
unsurprising that many respondents also say that their organization struggles with toxicity. Overall, about 4 in 10 (39%) respondents disagree that their organization is “positive and non-toxic,” while only about half (48%) agree (the remaining 13% of respondents were neutral on the question). In other words, the majority of respondents say their organizations are toxic, or at best, neutral.”

As far as the solutions are concerned, an overwhelming majority just wish their company leaders listened to them more (58%).

Fifty-four percent of the same pool wished their company made an effort to make them feel like they belonged and the remaining participants were halved by ‘preferred method of training initiatives’ — each side believes this will rectify workplace toxicity.

Fifty-eight percent were sure that their offices made zero effort to address harassment concerns and 40% feel their companies won’t make a point to do so in the coming years.

Bille strongly believes that companies should invest in training programs to correct the kind of ethics that essentially belittle the concerns, and 54% of the survey pool agreed.

“By moving beyond a legal-only lens to these issues, increasing focus on disrespectful behaviors that harm culture, and giving employees bystander intervention skills to help them speak up and take action when they see them, you are able to not only stop negative behaviors before they escalate, but also maximize the positive impact of the training on workplace culture,” Bille explained.