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U.S. Companies Are Losing $223 Billion to Workplace Toxicity

By Maurie Backman - Oct 1, 2019 at 8:18AM

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It may be time to rethink your company culture.

Employee retention isn't just good for morale; it can translate into major savings for your business. Or, to put it another way, losing workers can be a costly, unwanted disruption that hurts your company on many levels.

Now, when we think about the reasons workers tend to quit their jobs, it's easy to land on obvious pain points like inadequate compensation or a lack of upward mobility. But it turns out company culture plays a big role in promoting employee retention.

In fact, 20% of American workers have left a job in the past five years because of an unfavorable company culture. The cost of all that turnover? A whopping $223 billion, according to a new report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Man in suit standing over woman, while she sits and covers her face with a document.


The same set of data found that almost 25% of employees dread going to work, don't feel secure voicing opinions about workplace issues, and don't feel respected at their jobs. That paints a pretty bleak picture on a whole.

Still, those 25% of employees who dread going to work are still going. Others are up and quitting, and the reasons are telling. A good 60% of employees left their jobs because of their managers. Along these lines, 33% say their manager doesn't know how to lead a team, and 30% say their manager doesn't support a culture of open communication.

If you want to avoid losing valued employees due to poor management that lends to a bad company culture, it's imperative that you get ahead of the problem. Here's how to start.

1. Invest in better manager training

Managers who do a poor job of leadership generally don't set out to let their employees down. Often, it's a lack of experience or insight that turns otherwise decent workers into bad bosses. If the feedback on your managers is generally negative, then it pays to sink some resources into better training. Bring in professionals to lead in-house workshops, or find another efficient way to teach your managers how to do better. And if that fails, consider making some shifts internally so that only truly qualified individuals are allowed to take on leadership roles.

2. Put down your company goals in writing

Your company culture can get thrown off course when your internal leaders aren't on the same page. To this end, it pays to outline your company goals clearly, and put them in writing so that managers can consult them for a reality check. Presenting those goals will also help employees recognize that poor managers aren't necessarily representative of the company as a whole -- and perhaps bring those issues to HR so that they can be addressed.

3. Support companywide transparency

A solid company culture is one of openness and inclusiveness. That's why it pays to promote transparency within your company, and one way to do so is to hold town hall meetings on a monthly basis that everyone can be involved in. Communicating companywide changes so that everyone learns of them simultaneously is another good way to promote an atmosphere of trust.

Losing important players on your payroll can hurt your business in more ways than one. If you've been having a hard time with employee retention, reassess your company culture and reevaluate the job your managers are doing. A few key changes could wind up having a very positive impact on your business, all the while saving you more money than you might imagine.

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