Toxic mangers trigger employee depression

Don't let bad practices bring your team down

Toxic mangers trigger employee depression

Employers who turn a blind eye to the emotional and mental health of their employees are exposing them to greater harm. That’s because poor leadership culture has been found to impact workers’ wellbeing, new research from the University of South Australia showed.

A toxic culture can come from a combination of bad management practices and values systems which do not take into account workers’ psychological and emotional health. An example of this is when managers make unreasonable demands to staff.

Read more: Mental health: Are employees 'too busy' to seek help?

Working in these hostile environments can prove detrimental to employees. “Evidence shows that companies that fail to reward or acknowledge their employees for hard work, impose unreasonable demands on workers, and do not give them autonomy, are placing their staff at a much greater risk of depression,” said lead author Dr. Amy Zadow, commenting on her research published in the British Medical Journal.

Another study on toxic workplaces, meanwhile, found that psychologically unsafe environments – as seen in companies with a low PSC rate (psychosocial safety climate) –  was a predictor of emotional distress and the incidence of workplace bullying. An increase in the number of cases of burnout and bullying in the workplace is thus commonly associated with the company’s tendency to neglect the mental wellbeing of their employees, according to research published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology.

Read more: Give me a break! Why you need a mental health day

Having a bully on the team can negatively affect the entire group. “Bullying in a work unit cannot only negatively affect the victim, but also the perpetrator and team members who witness that behaviour. It is not uncommon for everyone in the same unit to experience burnout as a result,” said study author and workplace mental health expert Professor Maureen Dollard.

“Sometimes stress is a trigger for bullying and in the worst cases it can set an 'acceptable' level of behaviour for other members of the team. But above all, bullying can be predicted from a company’s commitment to mental health, so it can be prevented,” the expert said.

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