Wellbeing | 3 in 5 have taken long-term leave because of toxic culture

3 in 5 have taken long-term leave because of toxic culture

New research has found that two-thirds (61%) of people who’ve experienced a toxic workplace have ended up taking long-term leave.

Conducted by Culture Shift, an impact software business that exists to lead a positive change in organisational culture, the research looks at the true cost a negative workplace culture can have on organisations and their people.

1,000 people from sectors including the financial, healthcare, legal, insurance and public sectors were quizzed about the workplace culture in their organisation and whether or not they’d experienced negative behaviour.

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The researchers also surveyed 100 respondents who’d received a pay-out as a result of experiencing toxic behaviour in the workplace and asked them about the impact of this on their lives. Additionally, they spoke to 20 investors of FTSE 100 companies to find out what impact negative workplace behaviour has on their investment decisions.

The results starkly indicated that a toxic workplace is bad for business; 71% of investors wouldn’t invest in a company that had a problematic workplace culture, and 81% would distance themselves from a company embroiled in a workplace harassment/discrimination suit.

What the research from Culture Shift also demonstrated is the detrimental effect a toxic workplace can have on employees – and how prevalent it still is. A worrying 44% of those surveyed said they’d experienced problematic workplace behaviour such as bullying or harassment. In addition to the two-thirds (61%) who’ve ended up taking long term leave as a result of negative behaviour, 42% of respondents said they’d left a workplace permanently because of a toxic culture.

Not only is this damaging for the employees themselves, but it’s a bad result for businesses who then have to bear the cost of recruiting and training new staff (at an average cost of £30,000 per new staff member) – only to risk losing them, too, if the workplace culture remains unchanged. If negative workplace behaviour results in an employment tribunal, employers may have to bear this cost as well – the Culture Shift research found that the average pay-out was £381,350.

This follows hot on the heels of research from Glassdoor which found that two-thirds of candidates would not take a job with a company with a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed. Employees are increasingly prioritising work-life balance above all else, and the focus on ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) shows that the business world is increasingly expected to offer more than just a good salary to employees, but also an ethical and people-focused work environment.

The message for businesses is clear: if you want to attract and retain the best talent, not to mention investment, you need to foster a positive workplace culture that offers a good work-life balance. Having a positive workplace culture isn’t just about creating a “nice” place for your employees to work – it’s good for business!

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