Treatments for the Toxic Workplace

As we have learned from our studies, the three steps of sound health and safety practices are hazard awareness, risk assessment, and the application of controls. When dealing with physical agents in the workplace such as toxic chemicals, the steps are applied in order to recognize and identify the chemical hazards; assess the risk of harm to employees in the workplace resulting from exposure to the chemical hazards; and finally, to apply controls to the chemical hazards in order to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury or harm to employees.

These same steps must be applied when dealing with psycho-social hazards in the workplace, which include a poisoned or toxic workplace culture. In the same way that toxic chemicals can cause irreparable physical harm, a toxic workplace can cause severe psychological harm resulting in devastating consequences to employee mental health and physical well-being.

Unlike physical agents, psychological hazards are sometimes more difficult to identify and to assess. A recent publication from HRD On-line provides a summary of toxic workplace hazards from the book ‘Culling Culturitis’.

Click here to read the article.

As noted by the book’s author, many organizations leave the development of organizational culture to chance. From a health and safety perspective, this is a high risk strategy. As with any organic culture once an infection begins, if it is not stopped, the disease spreads throughout entire organism. When dealing with toxic workplace culture, it is imperative that the third step of controls is applied in order to stop the spread of workplace infection and it may require the elimination of the root cause at the source.

While there are some remedies provided in the article, there are numerous resources available which provide additional practical solutions for toxic workplace problems, including those provided by the federal government and a leadership blog provided on-line by Inc.

Click here to access the Government of Canada’s workplace mental health link.

Click here to access the Inc. blog.

Health and Safety applies to all workplaces. Mental health and safety applies to everyone within them.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you worked in a toxic environment? What was the impact on you and/or your colleagues?
  2. Why do you think employees stay in a toxic work environment even though it is detrimental to their own mental health?
  3. What advice would you give to the CEO of a toxic workplace culture in order to make a constructive change?


What Is All the Hype about Jazz?


A defining characteristic of many Jazz musicians is their ability to innovate, and to deliver sounds in unique and diverse ways. Jazz Aviation in Halifax is apparently very aptly named.

Jazz is delivering an HR environment for its employees that is both unique and innovative. Thus far, its HR practices have garnered a number of accolades and awards, including:

  • Atlantic Canada’s Top Employers 2017
  • Nova Scotia’s Top Employers 2017
  • Canada’s top employers for young people 2017
  • Canada’s best diversity employers 2017

Click here to read a full list of Jazz Aviation’s awards

In addition to the above awards, Jazz also has some interesting employee programs, such as:

  • Jazz Aviation’s volunteer program, “Jazz Lends a Hand”
  • “Jazz After Hours Club”, a social club for employees

Recently Jazz Aviation has added the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award to its list of accolades.

So what is the value of all this focus on comprehensive leading-edge employee programs? Well, they seem to be paying off for Jazz Aviation. Chorus Aviation, Jazz’s parent company, saw their 2017 second-quarter profits rise 72.5% over 2016 earnings, up from $23.7 million in 2016 to $40.8 million in 2017.

Click here to read greater detail of Jazz Aviation’s financial earnings.

Jazz music may not be loved by everyone, but you have to love what Jazz Aviation is doing in the HR world.

It is no longer good enough to just have an employee of the month program to promote employee engagement. As the world of business becomes more complex an organization’s HR program must evolve and touch on all aspects of employee engagement.


Discussion Questions:

Research two companies that have introduced employee-focused programs such as wellness, diversity, and flexible work hours. What have their successes been with those programs?

Your VP of HR has asked you to rate the potential value of several employee engagement programs.  Create a presentation on the programs you would recommend be implemented, and the benefits of each program.