All you (don’t) need in the workplace is toxic positivity

More employees are discussing what affects them at work, and the biggest detriment to working relationships between colleagues? Toxic positivity.
By: | January 3, 2024

Workplaces and organisations often promote a more optimistic view towards work. However, as employees continue to voice their opinions about trends they are looking forward to changing in 2024, the topic of toxic positivity has been brought to the forefront.

Toxic positivity, or the suppression of negative feelings and valid criticism for overwhelming or forced positivity all the time even when facing sadness or challenges, can have a detrimental influence on the workforce and significantly reshape both organisational culture and productivity levels, said Ali Honig. Owner and Psychotherapist at Therapy Suite.

“When employees perceive a constraint in expressing negative thoughts or feelings, it fosters burnout, fatigue, and resentment toward colleagues, managers or the entire organisation,” Honig told FOX Business. Toxic positivity can also cause a decline in individual performance and work commitment, adversely affecting organisational performance.

Some common symptoms of toxic positivity in the workplace include the dismissal of different ideas that do not “conform,” said Vanessa Matsis-McCready, Associate General Counsel and Vice-President of HR services for Engage PEO. Other red flags may be a lack of transparency, a lack of empathy, a lack of problem-solving or a lack of support for a growth mindset, she said. 

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Embracing the toxic positivity mindset makes it exceptionally challenging to discern the genuine emotions of employees, Honig explained, as they are unable to openly express their struggles or get help for their issues. It then creates an unsustainable long-term work atmosphere, which can then lead to burnout, high turnover rates, and take a toll on employees’ psychological well-being.