Building Company Culture

Navigating Toxic Positivity at Work

How to spot a culture of toxic positivity and create an authentic workplace

Blog Author - Amanda Beach
Amanda Beach
Mar 15, 20243 minutes
Blog Author - Amanda Beach
Amanda Beach

Amanda Beach is a writer, editor, and project manager with 10 years of experience in tech and HR. She currently resides in Denver, CO.

31 postsAuthor's posts
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It’s no secret that having a positive attitude is a desirable trait in the workplace. After all, who doesn’t love when a coworker brightens our day? But there are times when positivity isn’t the answer. Sometimes, it’s necessary to be realistic.

It’s okay if you don’t feel positive all of the time - what is concerning is when there’s pressure to act otherwise. In this blog, we’ll explore the impact of toxic positivity and how it can contribute to a toxic work environment.

What is Toxic Positivity?

In case you’re unfamiliar, toxic positivity is the idea that one should only feel and express positive emotions. Expressing toxic positivity means suppressing or ignoring any negative emotions. That’s a lot of pressure, isn’t it? This level of pressure to always be positive can be damaging, especially in the workplace.

It might come as no surprise that suppressing emotions can have negative effects on your mental and emotional well-being. Feelings of guilt, shame, and inadequacy can arise when you’re unable to maintain a positive attitude. The suppression of your true emotions can also create a false sense of happiness, when, in reality, your feelings may be on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Signs of a Toxic Work Environment

1. High Turnover Rates

One of the telltale signs of a toxic work environment is a high turnover rate. If employees feel unhappy and unsupported in their roles, they’re likely to look elsewhere. Consistently suppressing emotions can lead to burnout, anxiety, and even depression

2. Lack of Trust and Collaboration

Toxic work environments often have a lack of trust and collaboration among team members. Feeling pressured to constantly radiate positivity can be taxing. If this mentality is forced, in the workplace, it can lead to a culture of denial and avoidance. This distrust and inefficient collaboration can spread across the company quickly. In a toxic workplace, employees might not feel like they can rely on their colleagues for support or assistance and can quickly lead to a breakdown in teamwork and productivity.

3. Low Employee Morale

The toxic work environments that result from toxic positivity can also lead to, you guessed it,  low employee morale. Constantly pretending to be happy can also create a sense of isolation and disconnection from colleagues. When employees are constantly pressured to be positive at work, it can lead to disengagement and dissatisfaction with their work. If it continues, it can eventually lead to decreased motivation or apathy.

How to Combat Toxic Positivity in the Workplace

1. Encourage Open Communication

To combat toxic positivity in the workplace, it’s essential to encourage open communication. Employees should be made to feel comfortable expressing their true feelings and concerns without fear of judgment or repercussions. The embracing of the full range of emotions can help create a more supportive and inclusive work environment for everyone.

2. Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Did you know promoting a healthy work-life balance can also help combat toxic positivity? When employees are encouraged to prioritize their mental and emotional wellbeing, they’re less likely to feel overwhelmed and pressured to be unwaveringly positive.

3. Provide Resources for Mental Health Support

When businesses invest in the wellbeing of their employees, such as mental health support and services, it can boost employee morale. These services can range from counseling services, meditation apps, and employee assistance programs. Resources like these can help employees cope with the pressures they feel and create a more supportive work environment.

How to Create a Positive Work Environment

1. Promote Authenticity

While authenticity may feel different to everyone, creating an environment where employees feel supported and validated, can ensure everyone feels empowered to do their best work. By allowing for vulnerability and creating a safe space for employees to express their emotions, companies can enable more creativity, communication, and collaboration.

2. Focus on Solutions

Avoiding toxic positivity can be done by addressing issues head-on. Instead of ignoring your employees feelings and concerns, it’s important to focus on finding a solution. Doing so can help create a more productive and supportive work environment for everyone.

3. Establish Core Values  

At the core of every successful business, is a set of values they uphold. These values should be a throughline of how you operate your business and should be clear in onboarding, training, and yearly reviews. For some, promoting core values may look like team building events, and for others, this might be an award system for employees that demonstrate these values. Regardless of what your business upholds, core values can instill a sense of pride.

How Justworks Can Help

Navigating company culture can be tough for new entrepreneurs and experienced employers alike. That’s where Justworks comes in. With Justworks, you’ll get a helping hand when it comes to the nitty-gritty of HR and compliance. If you’re ready to spend more of your time supporting your people and growing your business, get started with Justworks today!

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
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Written By
Blog Author - Amanda Beach
Amanda Beach
Mar 15, 20243 minutes

Amanda Beach is a writer, editor, and project manager with 10 years of experience in tech and HR. She currently resides in Denver, CO.

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