How Entrepreneurs Can Avoid a Toxic Work Culture

It is important for founders to step up and take note when the work environment they have built has become toxic

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In today’s day and age, the idea of work has changed. People are losing count of the number of hours they spend at work, often burning the midnight oil or even taking work home. Moreover, the competition at work ensures that an employee does not take it easy.


In such a scenario, it becomes important for founders to step up and take note when the work environment they have built has become toxic.

Entrepreneur India spoke to start-up founders about how to know that your workplace is becoming toxic and what you can do to change it.

The Signs of a Toxic Company

Be it a start-up or a business, it’s not just the founder who runs the entire company. As the company grows, the success of its operations depends on its employees. In such a scenario, it is the founder’s responsibility to motivate his/her employees and ensure that they are always looking forward coming to work.

Naren Krishna Madhurakavi, founder and CEO, believes that a sign that the culture is getting toxic is when people don't speak out openly or don't take ownership. And this problem also results in your employees withdrawing from actively participating in regular work activities or being upfront in front of their colleagues.

Madhurakavi believes that another sign is when there is too much blame game happening when a problem comes up.

What To Do

Understand the Happiness Index

When a toxic culture takes over your company it makes your employees frustrated and they are often unwilling to come to work. Thus, the overall productivity at work too decreases. Muheet Mehraj, co-founder, The Kashmir Box, believes that in start-ups its very very common that a toxic culture develops. To combat such scenarios, they have built a happiness index at work. “It’s a rating system with a different set of parameters that determine the happiness quotient of the employee. It involves the management, the reporting executive of the employee and his/her co-workers, giving us a holistic view of their problems at work,” said Mehraj.

Build a Transparent Atmosphere

In start-ups especially, it’s very important to have a transparent atmosphere where the employees can voice their opinion. Madhurakavi rightly said that transparency is often underrated. Being transparent and critical about the company current situation and future growth plans with everyone is needed. “This is important at least in the growth stage. As a leader, you have built a good culture if someone at the junior level or leadership level talks with you in the same boldness,” he said.

An Open Culture

To build the above-mentioned transparency, it is important to have an open culture at work. While Madhurakavi added that he absolutely loves the concept of town halls, Mehraj stressed on the importance of having the doors open. Mehraj said that employees should have direct access to the management while ensuring that their first go-to person is their own reporting manager.