Is your culture toxic? | One HR practitioner speaks out about needing a 'mouse jiggler'

One HR practitioner speaks out about needing a 'mouse jiggler'

Having a toxic working environment is likely one of the most overt signals that HR is failing. From a culture of fear, to an overbearing boss or a history of micromanagement, there are many elements that can contribute to ultimately making a company culture toxic. Yet, rarely is such a culture so acutely negative that HR themselves speak out about it.

This is the case in a recent series of TikTok’s produced by an HR manager with the username Taylor.In.HR, which have since gone viral. The user, who claims to be an HR practitioner, shared that their current employer is so inhospitable, that HR itself has taken to using a ‘mouse jiggler’ (otherwise known as a device or software that prevents a mouse from appearing to be stationary) just to stop senior leaders from questioning if they are working.

In the series of posts, the HR manager warned others that needing a ‘mouse jiggler’ is a key sign that a workplace is, in fact, toxic and not to fall into the same trap. “Y’all, if you feel like you need a mouse jiggler so that you don’t get fired because your manager watches your every waking minute on [Microsoft] Teams and makes sure that you’re online non-stop, you might be in a toxic work environment,” they said in the TikTok video.

“Yep. Definitely toxic. The minute I turned yellow I got a phone call asking what I was doing or where I am at even though I’ve always met my metrics,” they stated.

Toxic workplaces on the rise

Sadly, this experience is far from unique. In fact, according to data from Instantprint, over 70% of workers believe that they’ve worked at a toxic company. And, it seems that toxic culture is far more prevalent in certain industries. Those in marketing, PR and advertising are statistically more likely to have such experiences; 88% of people surveyed in these sectors noted that they’d experienced it.

Unsurprisingly, toxic culture can have a devastating impact on worker health and wellbeing. Data from APN Lodge ascertained that those experiencing such culture are 36.7% more likely to have anxiety, 32.5% more likely to have panic attacks and, 27% more likely to have depression.

Employee Experience Trends Report 2023

Employee Experience Trends Report 2023

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And toxic culture doesn’t just negatively affect workers; more than half of those who took part in Instantprint’s survey noted that they would now quit a job if they sensed a toxic culture. Further research from MIT’s Sloan Management Review explained that toxic workplace culture is 10.4 times more likely to contribute to an employee quitting. Given the current talent crisis and the ‘Great Resignation’, the ramifications of extremely high turnover could be severe for HR and businesses.

What contributes to a toxic culture?

There are innumerable ways an organisation’s culture can turn toxic. However, research from Glassdoor, taken from 1.4million Glassdoor reviews of nearly 600 major companies, confirmed that employees describe toxic workplaces in five main ways: non-inclusive, disrespectful, unethical, cutthroat and abusive.

“Employees can have hundreds of different criticisms about their organisation that they discuss on Glassdoor,” Charlie Sull, a Researcher on the analysis, recently told CNBC. “Most won’t have a powerful emotive effect on their assessment of the organisation, but we’re looking at a small sample of topics that do have a large effect on a company’s Glassdoor rating. Those same factors can cost companies billions of pounds in employees quitting,” Sull added.

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