Is Your Culture Toxic? Is It Costing You!

Created 1 years 143 days ago
by RitaP

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by Judy Ryan

“In all 15 countries and across all dimensions assessed, toxic workplace behavior had the biggest impact predicting ‘burnout symptoms’ and ‘intent to leave’ by a large margin.”
—McKinsey Health Institute May 27, 2022 Article:
Addressing Employee Burnout: Are You Solving the Right Problem?


In the article referenced above, McKinsey Health Institute details the results of decades of research and a recent global survey. They outline connections between toxic workplace conditions and behaviors and their impacts on turnover (the great resignation), burnout, sick leave, and stress (mental health) as well as disengagement, mediocrity and absenteeism (quiet quitting). What is clear in their question, “Are you solving the right problem?” is an assertion they make multiple times. Interventions targeting individuals which remediate symptoms are far less likely to bring about sustainable positive changes than systemic solutions at the organizational level that are focused on resolving causes.

“Employees who report experiencing high levels of toxic behavior at work are eight times more likely to experience burnout. In turn, respondents experiencing burnout were six times more likely to report they intend to leave their employers in the next three to six months (consistent with recent data pointing to toxic culture as the single largest predictor of resignation and ten times more predictive than compensation alone). The opportunity for employers is clear.”
McKinsey Health Institute May 27, 2022


I have always asserted that people are your most valuable assets in every setting. This includes homes, schools, churches, and community organizations. Not only is this evident in corporate, non-profit and government settings—there are now statistics collected and cited by many research groups that show the negative impacts on people, profit and competitive advantage when people are inadequately supported and developed. This begs the question for all leaders: What conditions and conversations are needed to ensure the well-being of people so that they expand into their greatest potential, show up with courage to meet change, and are motivated to contribute the fullness of their talents?

For decades, this question and systemic change have been central to all I do. That’s because I have always been moved to action by witnessing unnecessary (resolvable) suffering and untapped potential in people. Only now is this phenomenon beginning to be consciously measured, acknowledged and addressed as a global trend in wellness and mental health initiatives. Despite this fact, there are those who do not readily self-identify as being mentally or otherwise unwell. Yet, a closer look at even the strongest among us shows that they too are not exempt from the negative effects of a toxic culture, and that the impacts also negatively and measurably affect the organizations and homes in which they work and live.

In the books, The Body Keeps the Score and So, What Happened to You? it is more apparent than ever that people are likely to suffer from unresolved challenges and developmental trauma from common everyday practices they encounter in all aspects of their lives and work. As you consider this information, I implore you to explore any unconscious ways you may be inadvertently neglectful and unhelpful to the people you lead, whether adults or children, whether engaged or not, whether professionally or personally. Now is the time to consider what constitutes health and wellness (mind, body, emotions, and spirit) so people you lead not only survive, but also thrive.

My mission is to create a world in which all people love their lives. My company’s name changed in 2008 to include the word “Systems” because without a systemic approach, it is impossible to move the needle on these much-needed changes. Whether you see trauma, stress, burnout, and mediocre performance in your business or home, or simply an imbalance in effort by your teams, consider how much better the results will be when you consciously help people to create healthy belonging and significance for all, with the help of all. Let me know if you’d like our help with this. We are ready and able to support you.

Judy Ryan (judy@LifeworkSystems.com), human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Join her in her mission to create a world in which all people love their lives. She can also be reached at 314-239-4727.
People hire LifeWork Systems because we help businesses become agile and manage their priority system: their human system. I hope this article helps you make sense of what’s most crucial to your evolving organization!