A Tale as Old as Time

Toxic Work Environment 

By Hope Malveaux

As founders of ConnectPro, “Our platform is more than just communications,” is a statement we often make when explaining how ConnectPro can benefit companies. There are intangible benefits that come from having a platform that has a foundation built on engagement, transparency, inclusiveness, and trust and articulating this in a way that upper management understands is a vital component of our business.

The saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is often applied to the work environment however this thinking is detrimental to company culture. As Human Resources professionals consulting with clients, we have heard this saying on countless occasions; the truth is, toxic work environments are created when employees feel like they are not heard and that no one cares to hear what they have to say.  The real truth is employees will not be honest about how they feel if there is no established trust.  The belief that no complaints is equal to no issues in need of being resolved is misleading. This wrong thinking allows blinders to stay on and serves as a deflection from being proactive to foster a safe workspace and implement lasting change.

When thinking of a toxic work environment, one might assume there is a monster running the company. You may have an idea of a ruthless, vindictive, and manipulative individual who is money hungry and does not care about their employees. You may picture someone similar to the boss characterized in, The Devil Wears Prada, but for sure you do not picture the beloved, Ellen DeGeneres. 


Ellen has been widely successful and established the status of a person who does not need a last name, akin to Cher, Oprah, Beyoncé, etc. As the host of the Daytime Emmy winning talk show, some would say her show is the most entertaining talk show of all time. Ellen is known for being loving and a kind person with killer dance moves. On television, it seems as though she knows how to inspire and motivate people but as of late, that energy is not what is being used to describe her. It was reported by former and current employees, according to CBSN and Buzzfeed News, that they faced racism, fear, and intimidation while on Ellen’s staff. Additionally, there are allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace. 

Ellen issued a statement:

that she had hoped the show would be a “place of happiness” where everyone would be “treated with respect” and was “disappointed to learn” that this “has not been the case.” She also said the show was taking steps to “correct the issues”, according to CBSN.

Hearing about Ellen made me feel sad because the reality is, millions of companies are quietly dealing with the issue of a toxic workplace. Many are facing and may have dealt with these exact issues if not more egregious allegations however not all companies have a brand recognition popular enough to face public scrutiny. As a manager or owner, you must ask yourself, can my company afford negative media attention if something like this happened on my watch? Could your business survive an onslaught of employee complaints and allegations?

The signs of a toxic workplace start’s with “Bad Communication”.  Below are 10 signs that you are working in a toxic work environment. List provided by Career Contessa:

  1. Bad Communication
  2. Cliques, Exclusion + Gossipy Behavior
  3. Poor Leadership
  4. Unmotivated Coworkers
  5. Stifled Growth
  6. Rapid Employee Turnover
  7. No Work-Life Balance
  8. You Feel Burnt Out
  9. No Forward Movement
  10. Your Gut is telling you

If you recognize any of these signs present in your company, it is high time you remove the blinders because when there is no active tool in place to prevent a toxic work environment, the result is inevitable. Managers cannot simply hope for a great work culture but actively commit their time and resources to create one!

 Learn more about ConnectPro’s internal communication platform to create a workplace where all level of employees are proud to give their energy and time. We also provide consultants to help companies develop an employee engagement plan.