Toxic corporate culture, a real source of unhappiness

Toxic corporate culture, a real source of unhappiness

Advancing in the professional world is not always easy. But it can be an obstacle course when working in a toxic company. In the United Kingdom, three quarters of working people have already had the bitter experience, according to a recent survey.

Unhealthy work environments can trigger a range of negative emotions in employees who suffer from them, ranging from stress and anxiety to guilt and feelings of rejection. They can be expressed by inaccessible superiors, a bad atmosphere among colleagues, a lack of team spirit, a lack of trust or obvious discrimination.

But if we are to believe British workers, this also involves unconstructive criticism and public humiliation. Some 56% of professionals surveyed by Oak Engage say they have ever felt demeaned in front of their colleagues. In addition, 42% of them say they have been morally harassed, and 32% have been forced to work overtime.

Contrary to what one might think, a toxic company culture is not solely the fault of management. A third of British respondents believe that middle managers have a lot to do with it, while 28% think that other employees contribute to creating a bad atmosphere in the office. But 81% of respondents agree that toxic work environments mainly stem from a lack of empathy on the part of managers and supervisors.

Pushed towards the exit

Whatever the factors that contribute to creating an unhealthy environment, it is clear that it is not a good place to work. Seven out of ten respondents admit that they are considering teleworking to avoid finding themselves in this kind of atmosphere. Because toxic climates have a negative impact on those who face them. They constitute, not only, a source of dissatisfaction but above all of discomfort for employees. The overwhelming majority of Brits say it has had a deleterious effect on their mental health (87%). For 73% of them, it even led to burnout.

Fortunately, there are signs that can help determine the toxicity of the work environment in which we operate. Sick leave, repeated resignations or desertion from offices are all indicators that suggest that the atmosphere in the office is turning sour. Recruitment announcements also provide valuable information regarding company culture. The British have understood this well and are careful not to include certain expressions that they consider to be “red flags”. These include “good stress management” (46%), “ability to work under pressure” (45%) and “fast-paced environment” (39%).

Companies also have every interest in keeping a close eye on the working environment they provide to their employees. A bad atmosphere affects their motivation, their performance and their commitment. In fact, 61% of Britons have already left their job because of the corporate culture in which they operated. Providing a healthy professional environment is therefore essential to attract and, above all, retain employees.

*The 2023 edition of the “Toxic Workplace” report was carried out, between May 24 and 26, 2023, among a sample of 2,022 employees representative of the British working population aged 16 and over.