Working atmosphere: A bad working environment often has a lot of stress. Naturally, we prefer to avoid stress, but it is increasingly common, at home and at work. Work stress an ever-increasing discussion, yet still a taboo. Showing a vulnerable side is not useful in business terms, I often say. Everyone seems to be able to deal with a level of stress, but work stress is not always visible. If you work together in a team, chances are it is more visible if it is increasing among the team.
Visible with a disturbed working atmosphere
- Mutual irritations
- Not talking to each other but about each other
- Complaining and sarcastic remarks
- Sensitive emotions
- More absences
- Endless conversations without result
Invisible in a disturbed working Atmosphere
- Mentally absent (your colleague is there, but not with his / her thoughts)
- Unclear anxieties
- Drive, passion disappears
- No interest to learn
- Growth stagnates
How does a bad working atmosphere arise?
Stress is a biological reaction to a threatening situation. In a team, the tension can rise as overacting.
- Unclear or unachievable goals
- Poor team morale, or misunderstandings
- Compromises to personal interests
This is a minute number of possible causes. An underlying factor that plays a part in work stress is that the expectation does not compare to reality… In the field of collaboration, clearly formulating what is the essence of the assignment and what results can be expected and when is essential to team focus and drive. But this also applies in the field of personal growth, obstacles, and innovations. Development and progress is not always a smooth ride, each of us has experienced this during childhood (just think back to your growing pains, or to that abrasion on your knee because you went a little too hard with your tricycle).
Causes of a Bad Working Atmosphere
A multitude of factors contributes to a bad working atmosphere. When colleagues are not mobilizing as a team, this can affect the atmosphere. It is important that a team continue to communicate well with each other, in order to advance as a unit. If communication fails, severe tensions can arise.
Perhaps more extreme factors are responsible, when bullying is taking place on the work floor or when aggression is introduced. Sadly, in some cases, employees feel unsafe in their own workplace. But there could be something else causing a bad working atmosphere. Examples include poor management, staff not in the correct or well-suited positions and re-organizations of the business. In this article, you will read about the causes of a bad working atmosphere, and how to regain tranquility.
See our article – Improve the Working Atmosphere
Poor Work Atmosphere Due to Large Differences
In a perfect world, everyone can go through one door. Employees with different characters and backgrounds work in harmony with each other and everyone respects each other. In some organizations, there is a culture where ’you just feel at home’. Many people often work with the same convictions or the same background but It can be difficult to feel at home in an organization where the majority of your colleagues have different standards and values compared to your own.
When someone with an Islamic background gets a job in a company where most employees are Christian, this, of course, does not have to be a problem. When all colleagues judge each other on their own, rather than on their background, faith is of secondary importance in the workplace. But when a colleague is treated differently because of a different background or beliefs, this can interfere terribly with the atmosphere.
Poor Atmosphere Because Colleagues do not Get On
Of course not all people ”click” within a team. It’s nice when a natural click exists among colleagues because working together and discussing things becomes much easier than when this natural click is present. A team does not necessarily have to be composed of similar personalities. Sometimes totally different personalities can be a real benefit but when everyone’s talents are used well and everyone is acknowledged and appreciated for their individual input. Sometimes, however, differences result in collisions.
Imagine that team members A and B work together in one team. Team member A wants to be busy with the work itself. This team member is quite introverted and prefers to work on his or her own tasks. Team member A has a preference for working in silence and hates small talk.
Then there is team member B. The focus of team member B is mainly on the working atmosphere and conviviality. Team member B wants the team to involve each other and regularly wants to have a moment to chat. Team members A and B could start to unknowingly cause friction between one another. Especially if they can not work in each others company without team member A thinking that maybe team member B will just stop talking, but on the other hand team member B thinks that team member A is just not involved enough in the team.
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Worsening atmosphere by bullying
But it can be worse than just not clicking and getting along. Bullying in the workplace is more common than you might think. Many people believe that bullying does not exist among adults.
Is it not something that only takes place at primary school? People with this opinion are unfortunately wrong.
Bullying in the workplace has always existed. Approximately 4 million days of absence each year are due to bullying in the workplace. A study by TNO has shown that many people face bullying in the workplace. More than a 1/4 of the respondents indicated that they were sometimes bullied at work. Not only bullied by direct colleagues but also executives were guilty of bullying behaviour.
Very bad, of course, especially given the fact that people in a management position should lead by example. A good manager gives everything to ensure a good working atmosphere. Although it is clear that this does not always happen in practice. The research by TNO also showed that 1/2 million Dutch people have been victims of bullying behaviour in the workplace during the past year. These figures can not be ignored.
Of course, an element of ”banter” or humour among colleagues can be beneficial. But when limits are exceeded, it is no longer fun and can soon turn into bullying. In that case, the bully often goes past the line, even if the victim has indicated that he or she is not ok with it. From that moment it goes from bad to worse. An adult victim of bullying often does not dare to call a manager or confidant. The fear of not being taken seriously dominates. Especially when other colleagues are passive towards the behavior of the bully, the victim can feel powerless. Colleagues also do not always speak up when witnessing such behavior. The survey presented only 16% of all employees who witness bullying behavior, offer support to the bullied colleague.
Plague behaviour at work atmosphere
If you are bullied at work, it can have serious consequences. Employees dare not take initiative or communicate with their colleagues. Concentration levels dwindle, and the quality of work deteriorates. Many victims of bullying go to work each day with deplore, experiencing feelings of nauseous and depression. Sometimes the bullying is so bad that victims call in sick due to the sheer dread of what the workday may include for them, and sometimes because they have fallen prey to a severe burn out with bullying being the causing factor this type of burn out is more often the case.
Employers paid about €900,000,000 last year in wages to victims of bullying who felt compelled to report sick. Fortunately, more companies are paying attention to bullying. Campaigns are being held and the media are highlighting this type of behaviour in the workplace. This is a positive development and now people are not so unlikely to feel an element of denial if they are being the subject of bullying in the workplace.
Read about absence policy as well
Poor work atmosphere due to an unclear policy
Many people have difficulty with the lack of clear and well-explained policies and procedures. Compare two employees, one prefers to draw his own plan, whereas the other works best when he or she receives clear instructions from colleagues in managerial positions. Yet generally most people appreciate when clear rules and guidelines exist. For example, it is useful to know what the standard procedures are for certain processes, or in the case of a once-off task, the requirements are clearly set out. The majority appreciate knowing and understanding their purpose within the grand scheme of things, which is why it is useful to communicate clear objectives.
Most employees like it when they are not constantly being monitored or supervised. If employees feel that their supervisors and colleagues trust them, this improves the self-confidence of an employee. However, it is important that questions can be asked without the employee feeling embarrassed. In an organization where there is a culture in which people who ask questions are labelled as ‘stupid’, things can go wrong. People are no longer comfortable to ask questions and are therefore inclined to do something without certainty, which means that huge mistakes could be made.
More workplaces are utilizing the so-called ‘stand-ups’. At a stand-up, set time each day in which the team or head of each team meets. Each team member then briefly explains what he or she is doing, what the state of affairs is and whether he or she has any questions. It is also possible to indicate when there are factors that can impede the work. For example, someone is absent because…? Then this can be shared with the team and everyone can take better account of this. In this way, you also create an atmosphere in which everything is negotiable. For many employees, this gives a sense of security.
Read more about the relationship between unclear structures and absences
Poor work atmosphere due to re-organizations
Sometimes management fails to inform its employees in a timely manner and to what is going on within the organization. A good example of this is the lack of clarity that many employees experience during a change in ownership or re-organization at work. Often it is clear that something is going on. And then people begin to talk and rumors begin, but nobody knows exactly the details of the matter. This can lead to considerable stress, especially if the re-organization has not yet been officially announced. People are then afraid that the re-organization will have adverse effects on them. Who knows, their job is on the line and they are on the street in no time! More than 41% of all people who experienced a re-organization, noticed that this had a negative effect on his or her health.
Many temporary contracts
Temporary contracts can also cause a lot of uncertainty and uncertainty among employees. There are more temporary contracts now than ever before. People with an ‘old-fashioned’ permanent contract are relatively less likely to suffer from burn out complaints. With a permanent contract, you have a better idea of where you stand. In a workplace where many people work with a permanent contract, the staff turnover is often much smaller. Because of this, colleagues know each other well and know what pleases and displeases their colleagues. Also, an employee with a permanent contract does not have to live in uncertainty about how long his or her employment will last.
An employee with a temporary contract is far easier to dismiss even in the case of illness. For example, if an employee with a temporary contract receives a burnout, the employer can simply decide not to extend the contract. With an employee with a permanent contract, the employer has to pay the employees wages longer and has to invest in the recovery of the employee.
The consequences of a bad working atmosphere
The majority of working people spend more time at work than anywhere else, A bad working atmosphere makes people feel less at home in their workplace. Because of this, their performance will be poor and they won’t dare to come up with good ideas. These employees feel trapped in their workplace and their desire to work hard will diminish or may not exist at all. Those who feel at home in their organization are more willing to go the extra mile for their company because they feel apart of something special.
Stress is also a common consequence of an unpleasant working atmosphere. An employee may experience stress when there is bullying in the workplace, but also when a re-organization threatens, or the work simply does not suit him or her. Due to a lot of stress, other problems can arise, such as cardiovascular disease or even burnout or depression!
See also: Employee with a burnout
Burn out is increasing. Almost everyone has a colleague, acquaintance or family member with a burnout. The figures are clear, stress is the most common occupational disease. Those who suffer long periods of stress are more susceptible to burnout. One million Dutch people suffer from burnout complaints. Especially people between the ages of 24 and 35 years old suffer from a burnout. No less than 17% of people in this age category suffer from burn out complaints.
See also: addressing an employee on work stress
Improve a poor working atmosphere
A bad working environment can, therefore, have a lot of unpleasant consequences. That is why it is in the best interests of all parties to prevent the working atmosphere from deteriorating. You can positively contribute to this by ensuring that every employee feels heard and appreciated, that all employees are introduced when they begin and that there is a level playing ground for all employees. A good way to achieve this is through team building. Team building is all about collaboration. A team starts an activity where you can only achieve the goal, when all members of the team communicate well with each other. Through this type of activity, the team learns to work better together and the team members also get more familiar with one another.
This usually has enormous positive effects on the atmosphere at work. Team-building can be organizing fun games in the workplace but is even more effective when a team building day or week/end can be arranged away from the workplace. You can think of outings such as survival holidays with the whole team, but also for example building a big kite together, the team who assembles a kite capable of flying is the winner. Team building works best when everyone participates, including management. In this way, everyone gets to know each other and the contact between people with different functions becomes more horizontal as they come closer together.
You can also have a preventive check done to examine the entire company. After such a check, the risk factors are clear and advice can be given about how these risk factors can be best dealt with. Training is also given in burn out prevention. Here you learn how to prevent burnouts within the organization or at team level. Prevention is better than cure. The costs that can be saved by burn out prevention are sky-high. Stress-related absences cost the Dutch employer up to 1.8 billion euros per year! These costs have risen over the past years.
The best way to deal with stress within a team is to better discuss with each other the elements of work that cause the most stress. Take work stress seriously and also take the experience of the team seriously! Know when the team is under this pressure and highlight the responsibilities the team and team members have to reduce the stress/pressure. So do not wait until the time has come, but preventive see what can happen.
For training managers,
see our stress prevention training
What if the working atmosphere cannot be improved?
Sometimes there is already a horrible atmosphere in the workplace and the tension has been cutting for a while. In that case, it is important to find out as soon as possible the causes that are at the heart of this uncomfortable working environment. For example, is there a lot of absences? Then it is important that it is investigated and why these absences exist. You can do this by having surveys filled out by all employees of the organization, but it works even better to actually start a conversation. A good manager ensures that he or she always keeps in conversation with his or her employees. If a manager makes himself accessible and is also open to questions or tips, employees feel heard.
As a result, they are less likely to suffer from stress and burn out complaints and they feel involved with the company. A good manager knows what is going on with the employees and looks for solutions together with them. These can be measures taken against bullying in the workplace but also look together at how the workload can be reduced. Even if someone is not in his or her place, a manager would do well to help with this employee.
Who are we?
Milltain, with a team of experienced trainers, supports organizations in the prevention of stress and the (re) finding of work happiness in the workplace. Our training courses are aimed at managers. A burnout quickly costs the organization € 70,000.
In addition to financial suffering, human suffering is high. Not only for the employee but also for close colleagues who have to deal with the blows. Before you know it you are in a negative vicious circle.
Do you want an effective approach to the prevention of stress and burnout (instead of continuously extinguishing fires)? Do you want to apply the learning goals so you can avoid absence?
We are happy to inform you about our Prevention Training