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The Death of the Toxic Workplace

February 23, 2021

The Enlightened Workplace Project.

According to Gallup, 64% of employees are disengaged,1 leading to higher turnover, stalled productivity, uninspired employees, and toxic work environments and workplace cultures. It doesn’t help that we are living in a time of social upheaval and crisis, which has resulted in chaos, change, and uncertainty in every type of workplace.

Business leaders and managers of today are being asked to do much more than they signed up for in terms of managing mental and physical health, social injustice, socio-economic crises, and political upheaval.

We often hear from leaders that employee engagement and high-performance are top priorities. They understand the proven business benefits of engaged employees—some even report they believe their companies are doing well in these areas. Yet, it’s likely, based on actual engagement numbers, that their teams are not as engaged as they think.

People should love where they work and feel inspired by their organization; because inspired people deliver extraordinary results.

The data show organizations with increased engagement have better organizational outcomes across several business measures.2

The Death of the Toxic Workplace and Toxic Work EnvironmentsAccording to Gallup’s engagement data from 2020, only 36% of the working population are engaged, 51% are disengaged, and 13% are actively disengaged.3 Sadly, toxic workplaces and problematic work environments are in large part to blame.

There are a multitude of definitions out there for what it means to be an engaged employee or a high-performing team. Search online and you’ll find plenty of academic and corporate-sounding definitions of these terms. However, based on decades of first-hand experience helping clients drive employee engagement and build successful cultures, we have simplified the two definitions:

An “engaged employee” is someone who loves their job and helps the company do well.

A “high-performing team” works together with joy and collaboration to achieve shared goals.

Our definition of a high-performing team aligns with McKinsey’s research with over 5,000 executives who consistently identify three key dimensions of great teamwork:4

  • Alignment on direction (shared goals)
  • High-quality interaction (collaboration)
  • A strong sense of renewal and energy (joy)

With engaged employees and high-performing teams, an organization can achieve increased innovation, happier employees, business success, healthier families and communities, and, importantly, increased capacity to address the world’s biggest problems.

It comes down to some basic, core human needs that, when fulfilled, create an environment where anything can be achieved. Managing people with awareness, respect and compassion is not only right from a human perspective, it’s also the smartest thing to do from a business perspective.

Companies that successfully navigate the workplace challenges of today are proactively approaching the employee experience with the goal of helping employees live their best lives so they can bring their best to work and deliver extraordinary results.

When employees experience the workplace as a safe haven from the chaos in the world, a place where they feel supported and fulfilled, they respond by engaging more deeply and bringing their “whole selves” to work.

This is what we call The Enlightened Workplace.

In an enlightened workplace, leaders and managers create a culture where people love their jobs, teams work together with joy and collaboration, and businesses thrive. Creating an enlightened workplace for you and your team is how you become the leader you always wished you had.

  • People are disengaged, dissatisfied and distracted
  • There’s a lack of psychological safety
  • Conflict and dysfunction are norms
  • Inspiration and fulfillment are in short supply
  • People love their jobs and look forward to coming to work
  • Teams work together with joy and collaboration to achieve shared goals
  • There is a strong sense of renewal and energy
  • Everyone is making a difference and experiencing progress

The difference between the two environments could not be starker.

In The Enlightened Workplace Project, our goal is to change aspects of corporate culture that are outdated and ineffective, while at the same time helping forward-thinking companies usher in a new way of leading in the workplace. This will spell the death of the unenlightened workplace and toxic work environments.

Leaders and managers who embrace the concepts of the enlightened workplace, and embed them into the fabric of their team and company culture, will find that they lead to higher levels of productivity, balance, resilience, fulfillment, and, ultimately, business success. Because people who feel seen, acknowledged, respected, and accepted for who they are in their entirety, will be more productive, engaged, fulfilled, and successful at work.

The Enlighted Workplace Project.

Does your workplace inspire you and your team to thrive?

See Also:


Kristin Brownstone ROI Internal Communication Agency Employee.
Kristin Brownstone

Vice President, Strategist

Kristin has nearly 30 years of experience helping billion-dollar companies make a positive impact on the world. A certified executive coach, author, public speaker and Sparketype Advisor, her expertise has been sought out by leaders at Adobe, Apple, CEMEX, Amazon and numerous other businesses.

BFS Headshot Dec_22
Barbara Fagan


Barbara is the founder of ROI. Named one of Silicon Valley’s most influential women and a lifelong nature lover, author and inspirational speaker, Barbara has devoted her career to improving the lives of employees and strengthening their relationship to their families, their passions and their work.