This is a guest post by Sandra Upeslacis who is the Manager, Talent Retention and Acquisition at NATIONAL Public Relations, past articles by Sandra are here.
“I’m tough but fair,” some bosses like to say. What does that signal to an employee? For some, it means the supervisor has high expectations and rewards good work. To others, it means the boss is unpleasant to deal with, makes unrealistic demands and rarely acknowledges the achievements of others.
These two scenarios involve two types of working environments: positive and negative. Which is preferable? For both employers and employees, a positive work environment always wins out. Here’s why: When employees feel appreciated, amply rewarded and work as part of a supportive and collaborative team, they are unlikely to seek greener pastures. They believe they are valued for their contribution and will not want to mess with a good thing. For organizations, this promotes long-term stability, retention of knowledge and institutional memory, superior client and stakeholder relations, and time and resources saved.
In a negative work environment, employees who feel harangued by bullying bosses will eventually leave the organization, taking with them all the knowledge and contacts gained during their tenure. The company will have to fill the vacated position with someone who is unfamiliar with the job. A formal search for the new individual will need to be undertaken. Clients or other stakeholders who have built a relationship with the departing employee will need to be attended to, and finally, training the new person will take time and resources to ensure they become a fully functioning member of the organization. Unfortunately, this situation will likely be repeated if nothing changes and the unpleasant boss refuses to learn some manners.
In the current economy, organizations could easily slip into the mentality that, “employees should be grateful to have a job at all,” and therefore look the other way when supervisors mistreat the people who report to them. They do so at their peril. Word gets out quickly about organizations or individuals who create toxic situations for employees. Some of the best candidates for a job may choose to pass on the opportunity because they’ve heard about the nasty supervisor.
“Walking the talk” about positive workplace behaviour is crucial in any situation. Making people smile or laugh and rewarding accomplishment enhances loyalty and fosters an atmosphere of wanting to achieve success. Berating an individual or team only creates bad feelings among the individuals themselves and about the organization for which they work, greatly decreasing the chances of instilling loyalty or attaining success.
If you work in a toxic environment, speak to human resources or senior management about your supervisor. If nothing changes for the better, you may want to consider your options. If you are in a position to prevent a valued employee from leaving by exposing a “rotten apple” in your midst, do it. The people who run the organization will thank you.
Sandra Upeslacis is the Manager of Talent Retention and Acquisition at NATIONAL Public Relations, Canada’s largest public relations firm with more than 325 employees in nine offices across Canada, in London and New York. www.national.ca . Email, firstname.lastname@example.org.