Often, leadership at a company doesn’t realize a toxic work environment has developed. Or, maybe leadership does realize, but doesn’t know the who, what and why behind the development.
Some companies are now leveraging Big Data solutions to spot a toxic environment within their organization and develop a strategy to eliminate that toxicity.
Leveraging data to solve problems
Businesses accumulate much more data about their operations than people likely realize. For instance, when a new employee is hired, their data is put into a system. Some companies scan all their performance and employee data to answer to questions that shape company strategy, offer the rationale for taking action and drive better outcomes.
The data being used is dependent upon what types of questions need to be answered. For instance, a company can determine the effectiveness of its hiring system by looking at turnover and employee advancement. Moreover, company data is fed into machine learning algorithms that are able to locate insights and solutions that hadn’t considered in the past.
When it comes to work environment issues, companies can analyze data on employee performance, promotions, and turnover. Using patterns in the data, experience and personal knowledge of the individuals involved, leadership can more readily spot the symptoms and causes of a toxic culture. For instance, if a company sees a pattern of female employees quitting soon after they get promoted into a management position, it can point to toxic cultural issues in middle management.
Research shows that diverse workplaces have better employee engagement and better work environments. While diversity strategies often focus on hiring more people from diverse backgrounds, data can be used to keep employees from diverse backgrounds from walking out the door as fast as they came in. Data can show if a work environment is forcing certain kinds of people out the door and possibly how to address diversity on the back end of an organization.
What is data showing about toxic workplaces?
As more and more companies use data to assess their employee engagement and retention efforts, some interesting patterns are starting to emerge. In particular, data shows that placing too much emphasis on results can set the stage for a toxic work environment.
An excessive amount of stress around performance can result in the spread of unethical behaviors that are either a reaction to the stress or as a way of meeting performance expectations. In particular, unethical behavior starts to appear in middle management ranks. A 2014 National Business Ethics Survey found supervisors are accountable for 60 percent of workplace misconduct, while upper-level supervisors are more prone to unethical behavior than lower-level supervisors.
Anecdotally, workplace data experts are seeing toxic environments often come from a lack of leadership at the top. When senior leaders are willing to accept bad behavior or are bad actors themselves, it sends a powerful message throughout the organization. In the end, the health of a work culture is formed by people in positions of influence and power.
At SSi People , we help our clients sort out their personnel issues by providing them with custom staffing solutions and service. Please contact us today to find out how we can help your organization.