Another sign is a high level of bullying complaint, because in a toxic work environment, bullying if often rife. Segal said sometimes it’s even used as a tactic by managers, in a misplaced effort to dominate their employees and create a culture of fear. On the other hand, bullying from the top is not always so overt. Sly comments, eye-rolling and passive aggressive digs all contribute to a toxic manager whose behaviour flows down into the rest of the organisation.
“Another very common symptom is poor communication,” Segal said. “It can be when information vital to doing the job is being withheld from someone or when employees are getting little to no feedback at all.”
Research has shown that on the whole employees crave feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. Employers that regularly ask employees for their opinion foster a collaborative workforce, and one that’s far less likely to be plagued by bullying.
Read more: Calls to tackle New Zealand’s workplace bullying problem
For HRDs, it can be incredibly difficult to shift the dial on bullying if it’s coming from the top. But a willingness to act, even if it involved the company’s star player, is key, Segal said. It’s an issue we’ve seen play out in Parliament House over the past month as allegations of sexual harassment and abuse among senior staffers came to light.