Accounting Made Awesome: Tough vs. Toxic Work Environments | 08.14.15

Is Your Workplace Tough — or Is It Toxic? [K@W]
Holy cow, I hope this doesn't describe your firm:

Think of the type of workplace in which employees feel personally threatened in one way or another. While relatively rare in most sectors, toxic workplaces appear to be on the rise, experts say. The distinction between extremely difficult and downright toxic work environments can be fuzzy, but in general, the toxic workplace is one in which the dynamics resemble an abusive personal relationship.

“That language doesn’t get used in the management literature per se, but that is how I would define it,” says Wharton adjunct management professor Gregory P. Shea, adjunct senior fellow at Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. “It can be psychological, it can be emotional, it can be physical. Twitter  Obviously in extreme cases it would be hitting, but it could also be people who feel physically intruded upon, who feel there is no safe place to go.”

Physical abuse is not common in accounting firms (I hope!), however, psychological and emotional abuse is something that we've all heard about, witnessed or, sorry to say, been on the receiving end of. 

But recognizing a tough firm as opposed to a toxic firm may not that easy. In fact, if you're a leader in your firm, you might not be the best person to identify the difference. In a profession that's known for long hours and high pressure, it's important to stay cognizant of employee morale and knowing that empathy will do more to motivate your people as opposed to pushing them to the brink. 

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