Employee Toxicity in Shared Messages
Bullying, racial slurs, sexual harassment at work – are all examples of toxic employee behavior. These distracting behaviors make peers feel unsafe, isolated, and harassed. And a toxic employee, one whom engages in these activities, is one of the worst things that can infiltrate the workplace.
How is Workplace Toxicity Measured?
A toxicity score measures the level of distracting behaviors that make peers feel unsafe, isolated and/or harassed.
Toxic employees have a way of spreading their behavior to others around them, similar to a nasty virus; crippling others morale, performance, and productivity.
While not all employees are toxic, all employees are capable of adopting toxic behaviors and people who are close to a toxic employee are more likely to become toxic themselves.
The Impact of Toxicity in the Workplace
Most organizations want to track and understand toxicity in the workplace. A toxic culture is 10.4 times more indicative than compensation for predicting employee turnover, and culture-related turnover costs employers over $44 billion annually.
Tracking individual employee toxicity over time can help identify and differentiate habitually toxic employees from those who begin to trend more toxic than previously.
Using these insights, organizations can dig deeper to understand why an individual might suddenly exhibit toxic behaviors by looking into the context around the toxic messages.
The 3 Categories of Toxic Messages in the Workplace
- Unprofessional - The message uses harsh language, slurs, phrases or innuendo that is not appropriate for a work environment, but wouldn't necessarily qualify as inappropriate in a personal setting.
- General Harassing - The message contains off-color jokes that might offend a person or group; or includes a sexual innuendo that may be offensive to others, but is not targeted at the message recipient.
- Discrimination - The author expresses a strong dislike of a person or group of people; the message contains racial, religious or sexual slurs; the messages creates an unpleasant or hostile situation.
Our data reveals that messages in private groups are 135% more likely to be toxic and messages in private, one-to-one conversations are 250% more likely to be toxic than messages in a public setting.
Additionally, individuals who only communicate in private groups or conversations are 160% more likely to send toxic messages.
At one organization an individual revealed his or her sexual orientation and was subsequently harassed via private messages from colleagues. Using this scenario, if the harassment continues over time and goes unaddressed, the victim might begin to feel unsafe and unwelcome in the workplace, leading to disengagement and potentially toxic behavior.
However, if an organization quickly identifies the harassment, or begins to see that the victim is trending negatively, leaders can intervene appropriately.
With 43% of all messages occurring in private groups or conversations, organizations face the potential for toxic messages to proliferate out of control.
In addition to harassment, employers must also deal with toxic behaviors such as drug usage, discrimination, sexual misconduct and more. As expected, private messages are nearly 160% more likely to contain words associated with illicit and pharmaceutical drugs.
- As expected, private messages are nearly 160% more likely to contain words associated with illicit and pharmaceutical drugs.
- Somewhat surprisingly, 1 out of every 170 messages, including public messages, contains words associated with sex.
- 1 out of every 132 individuals sent a not-safe-for-work (NSFW) or toxic message within the first quarter of 2018.
In an organization with 15,000 employees, this translates to over 130 individuals who sent a message that could, at best, potentially harm workplace productivity, and at worst, cause a major PR crisis and open an organization up to risk of legal action.