From Ambition to Exhaustion: Exploring Toxic Work Cultures in Corporate world

▴ Toxic Work Culture
The performance and long-term growth of the company are both impacted by a positive workplace culture in addition to the mental health of the workers.

HDFC has been facing backlash all over social media about a video that showcases a VP of HDFC Bank from one of the Kolkata-based HDFC branches, trash-talking to his junior subordinates about how the insurance sales were below his expectation. People on Twitter were quick in pointing out how this was not new and not only in HDFC but every other sales-oriented corporate company has this type of toxic culture booming due to its competitive sales-based market.

After this whole incident, HDFC came out with a clarification which stated that the organization was against such behaviour and the concerned VP Mr. Pushpal Roy has been suspended and a detailed investigation has been initiated which will be undertaken as per the Code of Conduct guidelines of the Bank.

But does suspending Mr. Pushpal Roy really the solution to ending the toxic work culture which every other intern is facing behind these polished corporate corridors, and was he the only person spreading toxicity.

Well just like his junior subordinates, Mr. Pushpal Roy is also an employee answerable to the management, not to forget that he was just passing the orders passed onto him by his superiors. This does not in any way supports his rude behaviour and foul language but the chances are high that he was also subjected to such harsh behaviour which he later passed on to his juniors.

According to a staffing firm called Genius Consultants nearly 50% of current employees face toxic work culture, and 40% of employees in India have high-level burnout, and anxiety due to a toxic environment suggests McKinsey Health Institute.

Let us explore the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to this issue.

1) Excessive pressure and unrealistic expectations: Employees are burdened with unattainable sales targets, long working hours, and constant stress, leading to burnout and compromised mental health.

2) Lack of work-life balance: Private companies often prioritize profits over employee well-being, disregarding the importance of a healthy work-life balance. This can result in strained relationships, diminished productivity, and increased turnover rates.

3) Toxic leadership: Toxic leaders may exhibit abusive behaviour, favouritism, or a lack of support for their subordinates. This creates a hostile environment, eroding trust and motivation.

4) High-performance expectations: The pressure to meet aggressive targets, achieve profitability, and outperform competitors can drive managers and employees to resort to unethical practices or engage in cut-throat competition, fostering a toxic environment.

5) Hierarchical structure: Rigid hierarchies in private banks can lead to power imbalances, discouraging open communication, collaboration, and innovation. Employees may feel undervalued or voiceless, leading to frustration and dissatisfaction.

6) Lack of diversity and inclusion: lack of diversity and inclusion initiatives can lead to discrimination, bias, and exclusion. This not only affects employee morale but also hampers creativity and affects organizational growth.

Consequences of Toxic Work Culture: Toxic work culture can have severe repercussions for both employees and the organization

a) Negative impact on mental health: Excessive stress, long working hours, and a lack of support contribute to anxiety, depression, and burnout among employees. This leads to increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, and higher turnover rates.

b) Low employee morale and engagement: Toxic work environments erode employee morale, motivation, and job satisfaction. Disengaged employees are less committed, leading to decreased productivity and diminished customer service.

 c) Reputation damage: A toxic work culture can tarnish the reputation of an organization, resulting in difficulty attracting top talent and retaining clients. Negative publicity and word-of-mouth can have long-term consequences for the organization's bottom line.

How to Protect Your Team from a Toxic Work Culture

  1. Nurturing a Healthy Work Culture: Addressing toxic work culture requires a multi-faceted approach such as Leadership accountability: Leaders must embody and promote values such as respect, integrity, and transparency.
  2. Employee support: Encouraging work-life balance initiatives and mental health support can also foster a healthier work environment. and development.
  3. Employee support and development: should prioritize hr open dialogue, feedback, and suggestions can empower employees and foster a culture of trust
  4. Encouraging open communication: Establishing channels for open dialogue, feedback, and suggestions can empower employees and foster a culture of trust.

Here are some crucial recommendations made by seasoned healthcare professionals from around India regarding the toxic work culture in India and how to overcome such circumstances

1. A toxic work environment can lead to high levels of stress leading to anxiety and depression. Productivity and creativity are lost affecting self-esteem. This leads to losing good-performing employees.

Dr. Ashwini Kulkarni- Advait Mindwin & I Am fine foundation rehabilitation centre

2. These days people spend 60-70% of their time at work. If the work environment is stressful or hostile, it can have a huge impact on their mental health. We see so many patients with burnout, confidence issues, anxiety, depression, panic and some even contemplating suicide because of workplace mental stress/ harassment.

Dr. Sumedha Tiwari -Nimai Healthcare

3. A work environment in which an employee feels threatened or where an employee is labelled, shouted at, or made to feel low can be very detrimental to the employee, team, and the business. This type of environment will affect the mental health of an employee, To focus on goals and achieve the goals good mental health is required as it helps in making the right decisions and coping more effectively with any adversities.

Kumkum Jagdish -PRAFULTA, centre for Psychological Wellness

4. By prioritizing a healthier work environment, we can foster happier, satisfied, and more motivated employees resulting in increased productivity, and ultimately, long-term success for both.

Dr. Nikhil Mankar- WeHeal Polyclinic

5. According to the WHO- poor working conditions and a toxic environment can cause work-related stress or aggravate existing mental health conditions. This drastically reduces employee productivity. All employees have the right to a safe & healthy working environment. Employers should make them aware of what unacceptable workplace behaviour is & how it will be handled.

Dr. Trupti Vedpathak- Psychwellness Clinic

6. The work environment constitutes a critical part of the emotional well-being of any human being. In short, a healthy work culture equates to happy & motivated employees, which in turn equates to highly productive corporations.

Dr. Rahul Kansal- Kansal Hospital

7. Scolding by bosses, daily targets, and trying to stay ahead all the time takes a toll on mental health, which leads to frequent headaches, upset stomach, acidity, anxiety, pain in the chest, pain in the legs, tiredness, and elevated Blood Pressure readings.

Dr.(Prof) Amandeep Goyal,G.B.Pant Hospital (GIPMER) & Maulana Azad Medical College   

8. In India, it is imperative that we put an end to the glorification of long working hours. Setting unrealistic targets and deadlines in the workplace is akin to residing in a city with poor air quality, as extended exposure to it will jeopardize both your physical and mental health. Burnouts can lead to depression anxiety, and psychosomatic ailments. Improving productivity should never be prioritized over the health and well-being of your employees

Dr Pranavjeet Kaldate- CuraMind

9. Like the Pandemic, an unhealthy work environment mainly a Hysterical outlet by any senior person leads to Fear inculcating insecure feelings in those who are at stress hold of Depression.

Dr Beena Sawant- J.J.Group of Hospitals & Govt. Grant Medical College


Tags : #hdfc #pushpalroy #toxicworkplace #toxicworkculture #toxicworkenvironment #corporateworld #mentalhealthatwork #mentalhealth #employeeappreciation #employeebenefits #quietquitting #leadership #selfleadership #companyculture #toxicwork #smitakumar #medicircle

About the Author

Sunny Parayan

Hey there! I'm Sunny, a passionate writer with a strong interest in the healthcare domain! When I'm not typing on my keyboard, I watch shows and listen to music. I hope that through my work, I can make a positive impact on people's lives by helping them live happier and healthier.

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