How to avoid toxic positivity in the workplace

It’s no surprise that a positive workplace environment can be hugely effective in boosting things like employee performance, wellbeing, motivation, and much more.

On the other hand, we’ve all experienced negativity at work that has increased our stress and had us question if our job was really the place we wanted to work. 

When talking about working experiences, you’ll often hear individuals say, ‘the people and the environment at work make a huge difference’. But can your workplace be too positive? And when does that become detrimental to performance and productivity? 

The answer is, yes it can be. This excessively positive environment can be described as toxic positivity. Toxic positivity at work is when any negativity or negative experiences are denied and ignored. This overly positive environment can lead to repressed emotions and a ‘fake’ state of denial within the workplace. Ironically, this is incredibly negative!

Digital coaching experts at EZRA identified when to know if you’re working in a toxic positive environment (and we’re sure everyone’s experienced these at some point!)

Some examples include, if your concerns are brushed under the rug with ‘it’s all going to be fine’, or ‘it could be worse’. Or, if real-life employee issues are branded as ‘they’re just complaining’, rather than being taken seriously and investigated. 

How to prevent toxic positivity at work

Toxic positivity at work is something that every employer should avoid. Here are some ways you can prevent it: 

  1. Listen to employees and ask for feedback – Make them feel as though you really care about their experiences.
  2. Look to promote transparency and openness at work – Having transparent processes helps to build trust, whilst being closed and discreet can promote toxic positivity.
  3. Ensure leaders are held accountable – Hold leaders accountable for their decisions and actions, and make sure employees are aware of these. 
  4. Recognize and reward your employees – Avoiding toxic positivity doesn’t mean not being positive at all! Reward your employees for their successes.
  5. Always be ready to provide support to employees – Even if the issue seems small, if an employee is struggling with something, always be ready to give them support.
  6. Avoid advice like ‘it could be worse’ or ‘be grateful for what you have’ – This is toxic positivity! Because, while yes things could well be ‘worse’, there is still an issue that needs addressing.
  7. Look to implement a coaching culture – Grow a culture of coaching that shares and encourages healthier communication.

How to spot toxic positivity at work

Check out the infographic below for more tips on how to spot and change toxic positivity at work.