One in five Brits quit their job due to toxic culture

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Surprised it’s not higher!


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One in five (21%) Brits quit their job due to toxic workplace culture, according to Breathe’s Culture Economy 2020 report.

The HR software provider’s research predicted this toxic culture was costing the UK economy £15.7 billion per year.

Women were more likely (23%) to leave a job due to culture than men (18%) and 18 to 34-year-olds had a higher percentage of culture-related resignations (23.5%) compared to those aged over 35.

Tech was the most common sector (36%) for those who quit their job due to culture.

A shocking one-third (33%) of SME decision-makers experienced or witnessed workplace bullying in the past year, with 31% of leaders experiencing or handling harassment cases.

Most employees (57%) said senior management had handled the situation poorly, with women especially likely to be disappointed.

London had a particular problem with workplace cultures and especially with bullying and harassment at work.

Almost half (48%) of London employees reported experience of harassment in the last 12 months, while 36% of Londoners left a job due to poor company culture.

Yet despite the percentage of employees leaving their company due to culture remaining high, it is still down 13 percentage points compared to 2018.

Forty-three per cent of UK employees said they positively trusted their management today, down 16 percentage points from our 2018 report.

Speaking to HR magazine, CEO and co-founder of Breathe Jonathan Richards said it’s vital for HR managers to regularly check the pulse of a company culture.

He said: “HR can conduct engagement surveys, conduct honest and open exit interviews and monitor employee churn. Informal catchups are more likely to expose worries and concerns and will give managers a change to spot any red flags before they escalate or drive staff to leave the company prematurely.

“Trust is the aim here, and promoting honesty both among staff and management will allow senior leadership to understand the ‘good, bad and the ugly’ of their culture.”

With the government lockdown set to continue for at least another three weeks, it can be challenging for HR to measure and keep up to date with company culture.

Richards added: “It’s important we’re communicating regularly but not just about work things because there’s a risk feelings of isolation and alienation will fester if the only messages we receive are tasks.

“To ensure that company culture is kept alive and kicking whilst we work remotely there are a number of things employers can do. Making videoconferencing mandatory and hosting regular check-in meetings with the team will ensure that team productivity and collaboration are not interrupted.

Opinium Research ran the online survey with a nationally representative sample of 2,003 UK adults, supplemented by 500 SME senior decision makers between 17 and 21 January 2020.

Further reading:

What lessons can leaders and HR learn from observing a toxic work environment

Legal ease: Handling grievances

The need for HR expertise at start-ups

What we've learned about culture over the past 10 years

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