Study shows toxic workplace culture is greatest predictor of employee attrition

An MIT Sloan Management Review report names unhealthy culture as the top reason why companies are losing crucial talent.

If you’ve ever left a job and thought, “Wow, I’m glad I got out of there,” you’re not alone.

A report from the MIT Sloan Management Review names toxic workplace culture as the biggest factor inflaming companies’ employee attrition rates right now.

While many blame the “Great Resignation” on poor wages and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sloan Management Review’s report finds that those factors don’t come close to affecting employee attrition in the way a toxic workplace does. In fact, the study found an unhealthy corporate culture is more than 10 times more likely to contribute to employee departures than a company’s compensation.

After toxic workplace culture, the top predictors of employee turnover are job insecurity and reorganization, high levels of innovation (i.e. frequent internal changes), failure to recognize employee performance and poor response to the COVID-19 crisis.

What does a toxic workplace look like? According to the researchers, elements of an unhealthy work environment include failure to promote DE&I initiatives, employees feeling disrespected and unethical behavior.

How can companies prevent employee attrition?

The study authors offer four solutions to companies that are bleeding talent:

1. Provide lateral career move opportunities.

2. Offer flexible or remote work options.

3. Sponsor social events for employees.

4. Institute predictable work schedules.

Have you left a job because of a toxic culture? Employers, which of these four steps might you implement first?

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