Toxic workplaces a mental health issue

Joe Morrison

Joe Morrison

It is Mental Health Week this week so I thought I would take up the issue of toxic workplaces.

You would probably be unpleasantly surprised how many businesses are considered toxic by their long-suffering staff.

A workplace is generally made toxic by management or highly influential, entrenched employees.

An inept owner-manager who is not educated in personnel management or effective workflow systems can be a problem but so too can be the managers of larger organisations with local boards or statewide human resources (HR) systems.

Toxic workplaces seriously hurt the mental health of not only staff but also their families.

If there are limited employment options in their local area, staff may endure bullying, intimidation and discrimination on a regular basis, sometimes for years on end.

This translates into an epidemic of depression, anxiety, and various forms of self-harm including substance abuse and suicide.

A toxic workplace seriously underperforms.

Staff turnover is hugely expensive and impacts strongly on efficiency, standards and reliability.

Staff end up wasting time and energy chasing alternative employment and distracting themselves with social media instead of working hard out of loyalty to their employer and their colleagues.

Public confidence erodes and customers vote with their feet.

Personally I favour mandatory reporting systems for toxic workplaces.

Our GPs, for example, are witnessing work-related stress from toxic workplaces all the time and medicating the victims.

Maybe it is time to develop a system to amalgamate the toxic workplace data in patient management systems and address the problem at the source rather than continuing to struggle with the symptoms.