Talking To HR About Toxic Individuals

Posted November 24, 2017 by Mary McGinley

No one should ever have to endure a toxic work situation. When a team or even a boss makes work time nearly unbearable, the only option for some workers is to simply walk away.

In an article appearing on the Huffington Post, Heather Spruill, HR Manager, recently recounted a letter she received from a reader asking how she could most effectively convey to her company’s human resource department that the reason for her departure from the organization was due in large part to the toxicity of her teammates.

Spruill suggests that if indeed the worker did decide to quit, then after a gracious resignation letter along with the effective date, to ask for an exit interview. It would be during this time that the worker could give feedback and raise important concerns that the organization could then address.

She also suggested that perhaps rather than quitting, workers can begin to potentially heal a stressful work environment by asking themselves key questions. These questions may include asking if there is something that they could do in order to be a part of a potential solution or is there someone within the company to ask for help in addressing a toxic situation. If it is annoying social behavior, it may be possible to simply ignore it.

If on the other hand, a worker feels uncomfortable or even unsafe at work, they should be able to turn to someone within the company for help. A manager to whom the worker directly reports may be a good place to start. By being able to cite specific examples of troublesome behavior and also asking for frank feedback regarding how they can best help as well as their own role in the company’s culture may be an alternative solution.

The exception to this would be in the case of incidents of harassment or unethical behavior that a worker has experienced. When behavior at work touches on either of these areas, incidents should be reported to a manager or directly to HR.

Pointing Out Possibilities

If all of these areas have been addressed and if a worker is determined to walk away from the job, the best time to bring up potential solutions and ways to change a situation for others who may have similar concerns is during the exit interview. If it is a manager that is a problem, HR may have a different perspective that is more objective and be able to help a worker decide to stay or if searching for a different opportunity outside of their current organization might be best.

Coming to work every day should not be the source of stress for anyone. Team dynamics can be challenging and for some workers overwhelming. Bad or even toxic behavior can cost you in terms of valuable human capital. The best practice is to try to lessen the chance of friction and bad feelings before they start.

At EinsteinHR we are committed to providing every aspect of human resource service and management above and beyond what our clients expect. EinsteinHR along with our alliance partners will provide all areas of service in order to help you in your HR and PEO decisions. If you have a small or medium-sized company, contact us today at 888-981-3622 (emc2) to find out how we can help.