Machiavellian personalities and bullies would answer: “to be feared.” Is this a progressive thought for the 21st Century? Does the end justify the means? Europe’s Journal of Psychology reports about the “detrimental effect of Machiavellian leadership on employees’ emotional exhaustion.” The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reports, “Studies have shown that 80% of the issues and concerns regarding employees’ productivity are related to the type of work environment in which they operationalize their assigned tasks.”
Jeffrey Pfeffer, an organizational behavior professor at Stanford who wrote the book Dying for a Paycheck, found through his research that poor management in U.S. companies accounted for up to 8 percent of annual health costs and was associated with 120,000 excess deaths every year. 120,000 excess deaths a year in the United States, would make the workplace the fifth leading cause of death and cost $190 billion dollars in excess health costs a year. With companies complaining about medical insurance and wanting the worker to be responsible for their own health, companies can lower costs by eliminating toxic work environments.
NCBI goes on to report, “Toxic behaviors in the workplace can increase the organizational cost due to the loss of a positive company image, low self-esteem, loss of employee morale, high turnover, work-life conflict, high absenteeism, poor employee health, and lowered employee productivity.” Research has shown that a “toxic workplace environment” damages the organizational outcome.
As companies try to acquire more talent, websites such as Glassdoor.com and others might show reviews of certain companies as not being the best place to work. Developing a negative image on social media can impact a company’s image.
Canaries in the Coalmine
Millennials today are tech-savvy and use social media to research and review many of their choices from what they buy or which job offer to accept. The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality used an interesting phrase concerning their assessment of data on employment, economic mobility and other important trends affecting Millennials. They compared Millennials to canaries, “We can think of them as canaries in the coal mine who reveal just how toxic those problems are.” In the article, “How to attract, retain, and work with Millenials“, it stated Millenials are ready to move on if they feel a toxic environment. Kevin Matthews, a Millennial working at a tech start-up said, “The pay was OK, the commute couldn’t be shorter, but the toxicity of the environment made my skin crawl.”
The Millenials aren’t the only ones flying the coop in toxic environments, data shows that “95 percent of employees’ are more likely to stay with a company that empathizes with their needs, while 81 percent would be willing to work longer hours. On the flip side, 81 percent of employees would switch companies for the same pay if their next employer was more empathetic, and 79 percent would consider leaving their job if their current became less empathetic.”
Companies will have to engage in more self-awareness of the behaviors that are creating a toxic environment. If one notices particular words mentioned to eliminate a toxic environment, they are empathy and self-awareness. This involves emotional intelligence. Helping both management and workers to develop emotional intelligence can help in better communication, increased teamwork, respect in the workplace, and more productivity.
A toxic environment is not only affecting the workplace environment but as the reports show are affecting the health of workers and the health of the company. Emotional intelligence can help cope with the stress in a workplace environment. To answer the Machiavellian question, we can say it is safer to be empathetic than to be feared.
Emotional intelligence can be learned. If you are interested in taking the EQ-i 2.0 emotional intelligence assessment, please contact me at Itinaucore@gmail.com.