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It’s a label that has become depressingly familiar recently, used to describe – among other firms – the CBI, Thames Water, the BBC and the Met Police. Susan Hetrick outlines what employers can do to clamp down on insidious behaviour.

When a firm is accused of or found to have a toxic working environment, it can suffer significant reputational and huge financial losses. More alarmingly, a toxic workplace can be a life-or-death matter. In one UK hospital, a “persistent toxic atmosphere” in a surgical department contributed to a higher death rate in patients.

So how do toxic workplaces emerge? And what can we do to address them? In my latest book, Toxic Organizational Cultures and Leadership, I present four stages in the evolution of a toxic workplace culture, typically triggered by pressures for performance.

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