Organizational Behavior


Corporate culture has long been tied to the company’s productivity and success measurers. The indicators of healthy organizational cultures are studied across various enterprises and within different contexts. Yet, in order to understand how to build a workplace that will serve as the cornerstone of success, the true leaders should first consider the factors diminishing employees’ commitment and motivation to work. The toxic workplaces usually share a number of features, as well as the sources where they stem from. Some of them can negate all the efforts taken to cultivate an encouraging and motivating workplace culture, and to boost employees’ performance. Therefore, the paper will identify toxic features of organizational culture and the effect it has on employees/org performance.

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Addressing the issues of toxic organizational culture, Appelbaum and Roy-Girard (2007) assert that the elements that constitute it might differ across various organizational settings. Additionally, they might include some more or less objective parts, such as toxic managers, leaders or co-workers. At the same time, these might separately include certain psychological factors, such as impaired judgment, the anxiety, irritability, anger or inability to concentrate on the work task or significant memory loss. Remarkably, some of these factors are external and physical, for instance noise that might prevent the employee from working effectively on the task. Others belong to the surrounding people, or those who are empowered to make the decisions and who have direct impact over the employee’s career development. The third cluster of factors include the psychological characteristics that are solely inherent for the given employees, and which can be controlled or shaped by the employer to more or less extent. Carucci (2018) asserts that in many cases the leaders are those who should be blamed for nurturing toxic culture and forcing employees to suffer from it. In particular, he asserts that the unhealthy competition that is driven by inexperienced or over-ambitious leaders results in the erosion of trust within the team, or even entire organization. When team members distrust the motivations and non-communicated agendas of other teammates, they start following the patterns of self-protection, and self-interest avoiding personal failure. Not surprisingly, when everything goes wrong, employees start blaming one another, refusing to take responsibility for their decisions and deepening the crisis.

Another research study run by Gino (2018) demonstrates that the toxic organizational culture frequently renew its term, as the employees are afraid of speaking up negative issues. As a result, the silence provokes reoccurrence of negative events and results in the further deepening of diminishing effect of these factors. More than that, employees learn and get used to silencing important details related to their work assignments, eventually decreasing the quality of services they deliver. At the same time, IIA (2016) identifies a few factors that build up toxic organizational culture, including the favoritism, ‘walking on eggshells’, bad behaviors, and lack of development, information hoarding, and lack of accountability. Interestingly, some of them might not be considered negative at first glance. For instance, many might be assured that favoritism is a tactic that encourages some of the employees to work with greater dedication. In other words, the manager can truly believe that such line of behavior is necessary and expected by the employee. Yet, it only results in the developing of low morale in the workplace and low motivation rates of other employees. Remarkably, ‘walking of eggshells’ threatens the organizational and individual performance, as the individuals are afraid of taking risky, yet justified decisions, as they are afraid of being fired or demoted.

Anjum, Ming, Siddiqi & Rasool, S. F., (2018) note that ostracism, harassment, inactivity, bulying have direct negative impact on job productivity. In addition, they assert that the job burnout, another factor of toxic environment, serves as the significant mediator between the job productivity and dimensions inherent for toxic workplaces. Picoult (2018) notes that the toxic culture can bear different fruits and the scope of that proportionally co-relates with the outcomes. He notes, that in extreme cases, employees might even turn to deploy illegal or unethical decisions. Additionally, the companies’ managers might find themselves puzzled by employees’ behavior; however, the later usually reflects the pillars of organizational culture. Picoult (2018) asserts that even on-boarding process might signal about toxic culture. He mentions one of the cases, where the employees were introduced to seventeen ways that they can be fired for violating company’s rules. As a result, all of them experienced limitations in their thinking and moderate performance, as well.  Moore, Coe, Adams, Conlon & Sargeant, (2015) note that toxic culture might also manifest itself in broken communications and tensions among the team members that occur as a result of employees lacking confidence, skills, or knowledge. A mere presence of people manifesting toxic culture causes frustration of others, and prevent them from working effectively and from raising their productivity.

Overall, toxic culture might be beneficial in terms of accelerating rapid growth of the company and creating competitive conditions for employees’ development. On the other hand, it should be stressed that this culture is definitely not long-lasting, as it usually leads to the decline of performance and eventual shutting down of the company. The  intrigues, disappointment with managers’ policies, the misunderstandings among the colleagues, as well as rumors, unhealthy working conditions contribute to the higher turn-over rates and loss of talents.


In conclusion, research demonstrates that there are many signs of a toxic organizational culture, and many of them are hard to notice. These factors lead to diverse negative consequences experienced by companies. These range from lowered productivity to the renewal and deepening of worsening of corporate culture and respective diminishing of organizational performance. Employees might become too inactive and reluctant to show initiative in the workplace, as this might be misunderstood or interpreted against employees’ interests.  It is critical to take actions to reduce the attributes of toxic culture by, at least revising the corporate processes and procedures.