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Toxicity in the work place

Today is valentine’s day. Some people ere excited because they have given and or received gifts. Definitely if you are in the business of retailing any of the gifts and the flowers etc, you are laughing all the way to the bank. If you are not laughing, don’t give up, there is Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and so many other opportunities coming up to sell gifts en-mass.

We are going to be talking about toxicity in the work environment today. Toxicity is simply described as the quality of being toxic or poisonous. Usually this is used for substances alone. I will however be using it today for both substances and human behaviour.

Why should we be concerned with this? Remember human resources are a factor of production and just like our machines we need to be careful they don’t break down. So, I will start with human behaviour. Often, we recruit people and put them in teams based on their skills and experience without any recourse to their personality profiles and any sort of compatibility profiling.

This may result in a toxic working environment because there may be resultant personality clashes that make it almost impossible for the team to work together. The toxicity may actually go on to negatively affect the physical health of the workers. This believe it or not may result in auto-immune diseases that end up in their having to leave work either for while or forever in some cases.

Unreasonable goals can lead to a toxic work environment where unnecessary rivalry and almost unattainable deadlines are the order of the day. The grapevine, office gossip and office politics can lead to a very toxic environment that can be very bad and lead to death. Besides death from shear exhaustion, there could be illness and murder.

Bullying in the office environment could also lead to a very toxic environment for the victims. This is usually quite subtle but can be a nightmare. There is also the sexual harassment which has become a staple in many office environments. Believe it or not women also sexually harass men not always as directly as the men though (even though sometimes it is very direct.

That woman with a heavy chest who insists on wearing very low cut tops or the woman whose clothes are always so tight you can see all her cellulite, is actually sexually harassing the men in her environment because they are forced to turn their heads whenever they see her or else their eyes are glued to her cleavage. They are then accused of sexual harassment.

Toxicity can also be physical and material. There are offices that have mould in them that the staff are breathing in. Mould is dangerous to health period; it does not depend on the type. Breathing in the spurs means one is breathing in live organisms that take root in the lungs and start to multiply. I don’t know the intricacies but I know it is dangerous.

The air conditioning system can also be creating a toxic environment. Many offices don’t take the maintenance of their air conditioning system as seriously as they should. They think everything is fine once the unit is still working. However bad air conditioning can lead to very bad respiratory tract infection leading to respiratory tract disease. Some of them don’t manifest until way after the employee has left the employ of the organisation.

The same thing can be said of generators. Many people don’t know that there are cancers that come from being exposed to diesel engine generator emissions. Not servicing the generators is really unhealthy for both generator and people. Not attaching a proper exhaust pipe to the generator is definitely going to breed a toxic environment. Even the noise pollution can be terrible.

Many air freshers and diffusers are also very toxic because they are emitting heavy metal into the atmosphere which is then inhaled by the employees. This can cause very serious un-wellness and un-wellness that is seemingly mild but is very uncomfortable.

Carpets that are not properly cleaned can be a nightmare to allergy sufferers. Offices that are not properly cleaned can wreak havoc with staff wellness. Canteen food that is not properly supervised or cooked is toxic to the human body. Overweight staff will definitely have wellness challenges.

Why should the organisation care about the wellness of their employees? Above I said, so they don’t break down as they are a factor of production. The truth however is that the success of the organisation depends on the wellness of the employees. Wellness covers a multitude of things from mental wellness to physical, material and financial wellness. Some people can operate for a while even though they are unwell but it is almost to operate at optimum when unwell in any shape way or form.

Please be aware because mental wellness can be disguised unless noticed quickly.

Today is Valentine’s day? What did you do for your employees? We need to show each other lover everyday but this is an opportunity to splash out on your staff as much as the company can afford. It will boost employee morale no end.

All the above things when rectified will go a long way to increasing employee wellness all the way. A pat on the back for a job well done will also help to increase wellness and therefore, organisational profitability. Finally, education will also help because even though you are taking care in the office are, they taking enough care in their various homes

Well as is usual, have a great weekend. Begin to think wellness in small doses until you have an office environment that promotes wellness in all its ramifications.

Lamide Balogun

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