How Toxic Company Culture is Driving the Great Resignation

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Inspiring employee loyalty has become even more difficult for companies across. According to an in-depth MIT Sloan Management Review study, 24 million Americans left their posts between April and September 2021. Many executives are highly perplexed as to what has caused this unprecedented mass exodus that is being hailed as The Great Resignation. Could it simply be that during the pandemic, employees had too much time on their hands to think about their prospects? Or could it be something much more disturbing such as a toxic company culture?


Is Your Business Toxic?


The New York Times revealed how "toxic" was chosen as the Oxford Dictionary's word of the year for 2018. The term describes an atmosphere that metaphorically drains the life-blood of employees within any organization. Many view departure as the only way of self-preservation.


The main symptom of corporate toxicity manifests as an overwhelming lack of enthusiasm. Workers experience growing hopelessness caused by poor management. Employees believe their hard work often goes unnoticed and unappreciated. A lack of communication and vague leadership causes confusion and suspicion.


Ambitions & Promotions


A significant factor is the absence of realistic prospects. According to a report by the ADP Research Institute, 84% of employees are condemned to work indefinitely in a low-ranking position. It takes an average of 6.9 years for one of the lucky 16% of workers to receive their first promotion into a management role. The report concluded that when a promotion does occur, it is usually a Millennial that secures it. For many workers, being in the wrong age group increases their disillusionment with their employer. Some contribute these feelings to prejudice and a lack of diversity.


Inclusion & Equality


A report by MThree, a division of the Wiley Group, discovered that 68% of employees feel uncomfortable at work. They believe managers overlook them simply because of their social background, ethnicity, or gender. 50% hope to seek alternative employment as prejudice and inequality seriously damage their career prospects.


If you are concerned that your business has a dismissive, unequal attitude, there is a way to ease your employees' fears. Issue questionnaires to discover if your team believes your company has a toxic culture. Promoting an inclusive sense of belonging through team-building exercises is an ideal starting point.


How the Skills Shortage Should Affect Your Business' Attitude


According to ManpowerGroup, seven out of ten employers cannot find workers with the appropriate skills. The research also found that 74% of affected companies fail to accommodate their employees' wishes regarding flexible hours and increased remote working. Significantly, the most toxic businesses with a skills shortage are large corporations with more than 250 workers.


Advantages of Start-Ups


Where are your workers applying for new roles when your business is faced with mass resignations? According to research by the US Small Business Administration, small businesses, including start-ups, provide jobs for 58.9 million workers. 26.4 million workers are now sole proprietors. At least eight million businesses are diversity leaders with minority ethnic group owners.

The opportunities in these innovative start-ups, particularly in the technological and IT industries, are far greater than in large, impersonal organizations. Improvisation and innovation are key attractions for disenchanted employees languishing in toxic company culture.


Micro-businesses with less than ten employees frequently must pool their skills to achieve optimal results. They encourage a sense of teamwork, inclusion, and opportunities for all. If they are not family-run businesses, they manage to create a sense of family amongst their employees. Once they become part of such a business, new workers are reluctant to leave.




Your business can change its atmosphere of toxicity by reviewing management practices and attitudes—direct resources into thinking creatively about innovative opportunities for every worker on an equal basis. In a technological age of robotics and Artificial Intelligence, it can be easy to disregard the flexible roles workers might prefer. Changing attitudes and accommodating workers' hopes of inclusivity costs nothing but respect for other people. Only then may the Great Resignation begin to end.



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About the Author

Paul Towler

Paul Towler is the technical operations director at SmartOffice, a software automation provider that helps companies with their document management systems.


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