7 Signs of a Toxic Workplace that Hurt Employee Productivity

by Erin Sevitz on October 12, 2022
Employee Productivity In Hybrid Workplaces

A toxic workplace can breed competition, negativity, perpetual stressors, and high turnover. To avoid these, we recommend focusing on improvements in employee productivity, which can have an even greater impact on the bottom line. One of the most effective ways to do this is by reducing or eliminating poor working conditions.

With more employees returning to the office – whether full-time or through the hybrid work model – our focus is on working conditions within the traditional workplace.

7 Signs of a Toxic Workplace that Hurt Employee Productivity

1) Poor Office Space Utilization

If employees lack the space and resources required to do their best work, they are set up to fail. It isn’t just about allocating the right amount of space per person. Employees need enough space to work comfortably, with the right mix of space to be productive. The best workers require access to quiet rooms where they can concentrate on deep work, as well as common areas designed for collaboration. Additionally, employees need an easy way to find and reserve these spaces.

2) Ineffective Workplace Technology

Workplace technology is one of the three most important elements that make up the employee experience. Post-pandemic, it’s even more essential now than before.

Technology that’s slow, outdated, or ineffective is frustrating to use. And over time, that frustration can erode employee satisfaction and even push employees out the door.

58% of employees at companies considered to be “technology laggards” – late adopters of advanced technology – have negative feelings toward their employer.

Inefficient workplace technology also hurts productivity in a big way. Consider what happens when employees are using outdated software for hosting meetings. At least a few times a week, they must restart a conference call, log back in and get everyone back on track. By eliminating this distraction, employers can give each employee an extra 18 minutes back each day.

3) Poor Lighting


If there’s one element employees want more than anything else in their workplace design, it’s access to natural light. Poor lighting contributes to eye strain, fatigue, and reduced productivity. On the contrary, access to plentiful light – especially natural light –  can improve productivity.

70% of employees say that having access to natural light makes them more productive. Yet more than 33% say they feel they have inadequate access to natural light in the office.

4) Negative Workplace Processes

Just as it’s critical to evaluate workplace technology, it’s important to take a hard look at company workplace processes and identify opportunities for improvement. Oftentimes, management and employees will accept a process based solely on the assertion that “this is how it’s always been done.” But times change – especially as of late – and so do customers and employees. Leadership should create an open dialogue with their team and ask: “What workflow issues are slowing you down?” It’s surprising how much things can change with just a few simple tweaks and the automation of certain procedures.

5) Lack of Flexibility in the Workplace

Times have changed a lot since the Baby Boomer generation entered the workforce. The modern workplace isn’t confined to four walls; it goes everywhere with us. 25% of professionals work between 45-59 hours per week, working through lunches or waiting for dinner to be ready.

Unlike our predecessors, however, a work/life balance is critical. In 2022, 72% of employees experienced employee burnout, while 57% of job seekers say a poor work-life balance is a dealbreaker.

Moreover, most workers say they would change jobs to have more flexibility in their work schedules – which we saw happen during “The Great Resignation.” Since the movement, more companies have implemented the hybrid working model, which many employees have appreciated.

Employers can help workers achieve a more excellent work/life balance by offering flexible arrangements whenever possible. It’s also important to ensure workloads are manageable and encourage employees to use their paid time off. The more companies can promote employee well-being, the better.

A well-rested workforce makes a big difference in the quality and quantity of work.

6) Uncomfortable Working Conditions


It’s difficult for employees to concentrate when they’re shivering or constantly fanning themselves to stay cool. Similarly, issues like broken chairs, wobbly desks, or clanging pipes create poor working conditions that can become big distractions.

They keep employees from engaging in deep work that produces the best results. Over time, they can also hurt morale and negatively impact the employee experience.

The good news is that these issues can be easily addressed by ensuring employees have a simple way to submit service requests via our mobile app.

7) Toxic Company Culture

Remarkable times call for a remarkable approach. Prioritizing company culture can strengthen the workplace environment. Culture directly influences employee engagement and productivity. In fact, most of today’s workforce will choose to move on to a new job if the workplace culture doesn’t meet their expectations.

Just like a bad attitude, negative company culture is contagious. It lowers employee engagement and reduces productivity.

But there’s more to creating a positive company culture than providing great perks and hosting an occasional happy hour. It starts with the leadership team establishing strong core values and reinforcing them throughout the organization.

How to Improve Employee Productivity

If an organization is experiencing a loss of productivity and workforce engagement, there’s a good chance that at least one of these poor working conditions is standing in its way.

While compensation packages are important, the breakdown likely stems from something much deeper – more emotional than pecuniary. Yet the impact on the enterprise is almost entirely financial. An employee’s loss equates to 30-50% of their annual salary, and employers also stand to lose top talent to their competitors.

Companies should talk with the leadership team and employees to identify their most significant roadblocks to productivity. With a better idea of the problem, employers can begin to address it. Here are a few steps to improve poor working conditions and supercharge employee productivity:

  • Lead with data. Use space management software and IoT sensors to determine how employees use the spaces available and how to improve space utilization.
  • Be mindful of how new workplace technology is introduced. Look for solutions that integrate with existing technology platforms. Get feedback from employees to ensure the new technology will improve productivity and not add unnecessary steps.
  • Give employees flexibility. Have hybrid and remote working model policies in place when feasible.
  • Give employees the tools needed to be productive. That includes finding people, reserving space, requesting service, and receiving mail or visitors.

The global pandemic made professionals rethink their current jobs, careers, and companies. In this employee-centric market, top talent will no longer put up with poor working conditions. Companies must create the environment employees deserve, and they’ll reap the benefits for years to come.

IMPROVE Employee well-being


Erin Sevitz

Erin Sevitz is the Senior Director of Marketing at iOFFICE + SpaceIQ.

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