Hot topics: Toxic cultures and social media policies

by Cameron Edmond24 Jan 2014
The HC comments section is a great place to share your insights and opinions on developments in the world of HR. This week, toxic work cultures and social media legal problems had our readers sharing their own experiences and views.

Thursday’s article on how to identify and cure a toxic team in your organisation saw reader Jacqui share her story on escaping a toxic team:

I just escaped from a toxic team one month ago, and moved into another part of the same organisation. I was seriously making efforts to leave the company, as internal networking and interviews yielded no success.

The toxic culture became so thick from the individuals, that it was not the work that became unenjoyable that led me to move, simply the relationships and environment in which I performed my work. Little help was provided from HR also, as one HR rep often told me that I was not competent enough to be handed the 2IC role, regardless of the fact that I performed all of the work tasks that are applicable to the role (besides leading the team in the managers absence). It seemed her sole objective to bring me down.

The toxicity came from attitudes from HR, the manager, senior manager, as well as colleagues. From the attitudes of my colleagues, I soon found that they saw it unacceptable that I wanted to be away from my desk for any length of time (whether it be a toilet break, out for lunch, visit work peers at alternative sites, offsite networking meetings, etc.). I truly felt chained to my desk, and yet had no-one that was willing to learn my work as a backup in my absence (lack of colleague initiative and well as lacking support from management). Many more items made the environment hard to put up with.
I'm very thankful I have been given a second chance within another part of the organisation, as I have come to realise just how unpleasant it was and how unsatisfactory the behaviours were. I'm certainly in a good place now.

While Jacqui’s story had a happy ending, a warning to organisations from Yvonne Walker reinforced Monday’s article on the need for social media policies:

A really important element of this case was the lack of exposure to and understanding of social media by the employee concerned.

The FWC observed that it was unlikely that many others would have the same lack of understanding about their actions, and that as time goes on, it will be less likely to allow ignorance as an excuse.

The key takeaway from this is that social media policy training needs to educate any members of the workforce who may not understand social media and how it works.

Thank you to all our commenters this week.


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