Almost half of UK workforce is impacted by toxic workplace cultures

Problematic behaviour in the workplace is a pervasive issue which has wide ranging damaging effects, both on victims and the organisation itself. Creating a working environment which is free from toxic behaviours is essential if an organisation wishes to optimise its performance, whilst demonstrating care for employees. 

Here at Culture Shift we strive to help businesses and organisations across the UK create positive workplace culture and our latest report, “protecting your people,” uncovers the true extent of problematic workplace culture and the effect it’s having on the UK workforce. 

We surveyed 1,000 UK employees to uncover the impact toxic culture is having on the mental health of those affected and to shine a light on how various industries are performing currently, when it comes to workplace culture. In addition, we surveyed 100 respondents who have experienced problematic behaviour, such as bullying or harassment at work, and have received a payout as a result, to uncover the true extent experiencing incidents of this nature has had on other areas of their lives.

Shockingly, our research revealed that two in five employees here in the UK have experienced problematic behaviour, such as bullying, harassment or discrimination at work. Of those surveyed, 42% said that toxic workplace culture has impacted their mental health.  

The research also found that over one third have felt silenced on issues that matter to them in the workplace, while 29% have taken time off due to an incident that happened at work, such as bullying, harassment, discrimination or sexual misconduct. 

A further 41% confirmed bad workplace culture has impacted their productivity and 42% have previously left a job due to negative workplace culture.

It’s been proven time and time again that organisations who put a positive employee experience at the heart of their business and who focus on creating safe, inclusive and supportive environments, thrive and are more successful.

Whereas, problematic workplace culture can have an incredibly damaging effect on employee retention, often leading to high levels of attrition, resulting in organisations with a deep-rooted negative culture losing great talent.  

But of course, a toxic workplace culture or problematic behaviour doesn’t just affect the success or reputation of an organisation. Employees are often the ones who feel the full force of a toxic workplace. 

Our research revealed that 64% of those who have experienced problematic behaviour at work said it negatively affected their mental health, with two thirds confirming it affected their confidence and ability to find a new job. Solidifying that the negative impact of toxic cultures stay with a person long term and are not left behind when they leave the business.

On how experiencing problematic behaviour at work impacted employees, the research uncovered:

  • 67% suffered from anxiety as a direct result of workplace bullying
  • 71% have had to have therapy due to an issue they experienced at work
  • Almost three quarters have called in sick due to not wanting to see somebody they have a negative relationship with at work

On how toxic cultures are affecting the UK’s workforce, the research revealed:

  • 34% have been less engaged with their job due to the company having a bad culture
  • 31% wouldn't share their concerns in annual employee surveys
  • 44% have witnessed problematic behaviour (such as bullying, harassment or discrimination) at work
  • 62% would be much more likely to report an instance of bullying/harassment if their workplace had an anonymous platform to do so
  • 27% have called in sick due to problematic behaviour they've witnessed/ experienced at work 
  • 36% confirmed an incident, such as bullying, harassment or discrimination, at work has led to them not trusting their employer

Incidents that have hit the news agenda are also resulting in more survivors having the courage to speak up. In fact, 39% of those surveyed say seeing media coverage of the alleged bullying and harassment taking place on shows like The Ellen DeGeneres Show, has made them feel more confident to report workplace bullying if they saw it. 

Not tackling toxic cultures and problematic behaviours within an organisation can have a harmful impact on the people at the heart of those instances and leaders should absolutely have the safety and wellbeing of their employees at the top of their agenda. 

Not only can these issues have a devastating impact on the victims, but this sentiment can often filter through to external stakeholders, impacting the organisation’s reputation and ultimately their bottom line.  

Download the full ‘protecting your people’ report here

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