How to Reel in a Toxic Workplace and Create a Better Team Environment

Toxic Workplace

Ever walked into your pharmacy and felt a knot in your stomach? Or noticed a colleague who used to be keen now looking drained and disengaged? These are clear signs of a toxic workplace—a scenario too many of us know all too well.

A toxic work environment is more than just a hassle, it’s a serious issue affecting everything from employee morale to overall productivity. Addressing this isn’t just about making the pharmacy nicer; it’s crucial for your team’s health and your business’s success. 

By tackling these toxic elements head-on, you can transform your workplace into a thriving environment where everyone can perform at their best.

Let’s explore how you can reel in a toxic workplace and create a better work environment.

What is a Toxic Work Environment?

A toxic work environment in the pharmacy industry is one where negative behaviours and attitudes are pervasive, creating an atmosphere of fear, distrust, and dissatisfaction. This can manifest in various ways, from bullying and exclusion to poor communication and unrealistic demands. 

For example, constant understaffing can lead to unrealistic workloads, causing pharmacists and staff to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Additionally, poor communication from management about policies or changes can exacerbate feelings of uncertainty and distrust.

When employees feel constantly stressed, undervalued, or unsafe, it takes a toll on their mental and physical health, leading to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and potential errors in patient care. In the pharmacy setting, this can have serious consequences, such as medication errors or lapses in patient safety, which further strain the staff and undermine trust in the service.

For the organisation, the impacts can be just as severe. A toxic culture can result in high employee turnover, a tarnished reputation, and ultimately, a decline in overall performance and patient trust. 

This is especially critical in the pharmacy industry, where maintaining a high standard of care is paramount. Recognising and understanding these characteristics is the first step in making meaningful changes and fostering a healthier workplace. 

Warning Signs of a Toxic Workplace

A toxic work environment in the pharmacy industry often reveals itself through several warning signs:

Social Cliques and Bullying

These manifest as exclusion, favouritism, and outright bullying. In a pharmacy setting, this can create feelings of isolation and undervaluation among pharmacists and support staff, leading to a divided and hostile work environment.

Poor Communication and Unrealistic Workloads

Poor communication from management about policies or changes, combined with unrealistic workloads, causes stress, illness, and fatigue due to unclear instructions or impossible deadlines. In pharmacies, this can lead to medication errors and compromised patient care, further exacerbating the toxic atmosphere.

Employee Anxiety and Absenteeism

Frequent sick days or lateness indicate distress and lack of motivation among pharmacy staff. This reflects the significant impact of a toxic workplace on employee well-being and overall productivity, potentially jeopardising patient safety and service quality.

Unsafe or Immoral Working Conditions

When employees are asked to perform dangerous tasks or work in unsafe environments, it is a clear sign of a toxic and neglectful work culture. In pharmacies, this might involve handling hazardous substances without proper safety measures or working in conditions that do not comply with health regulations.

Discriminatory Policies and Wage Gaps

Unfair treatment based on gender, race, or other factors creates division and resentment, severely impacting morale. In the pharmacy industry, this can lead to a lack of cohesion and trust among team members, affecting the overall efficiency of the workplace.

Management Ignoring Concerns

When leaders dismiss or overlook employee issues, it reinforces the toxic culture and exacerbates employee dissatisfaction. In a pharmacy, ignoring concerns about workflow, patient safety, or staff well-being can lead to significant operational problems and a decline in service quality.

Recognising these signs is the first step towards fixing a toxic work environment and creating a better team environment in the pharmacy industry. 

Methods to Reel in a Toxic Workplace

Here are key methods to reel in a toxic workplace culture:

  • Engage with Employees in Positive Ways: Encourage regular interactions that are friendly and supportive. Be visible and accessible to build trust and make employees feel valued.
  • Create a Safe Space for Healthy Discussions: Foster open communication where employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns without fear of backlash. Encourage emotional intelligence within the team.
  • Lead by Example: Demonstrate the behaviours you expect from your team. Living the company’s values and policies sets a standard for everyone to follow and helps build a positive workplace culture.
  • Express Gratitude for Your Staff Members: Show appreciation by recognising and acknowledging the efforts and achievements of your staff. Specific praise boosts motivation and loyalty.
  • Tap into the Unique Strengths of Each Team Member: Assign tasks that allow employees to shine and utilise their skills fully. This approach reduces frustration and increases engagement.
  • Show Respect for Employees’ Needs: Acknowledge personal boundaries and and accommodate requests for time off or HR issues. Respecting employees leads to reciprocal loyalty and hard work.
  • Provide Constructive Forms of Criticism: Offer supportive feedback that focuses on improvement. Constructive criticism helps employees grow and improves overall morale.
  • Establish and Maintain a Standard of Fairness: Treat everyone with respect and equality, honouring their diversity and individualism. Fair treatment creates a harmonious and productive environment.
  • Facilitate Opportunities for Inclusive Team Bonding: Organise regular social events for team-building activities to build camaraderie and make the workplace enjoyable.
  • Allow Team Members to Own Their Roles and Performance: Give employees the freedom to make decisions and take ownership of their roles. Trust fosters confidence and reduces toxicity.


The importance of addressing and fixing a toxic work environment cannot be overstated. 

It’s about more than just improving morale—it’s crucial for the health, productivity, and success of your team and business. Management must take the initiative to implement these changes, setting the example and fostering a culture of trust and respect.

At LocumCo, we understand the challenges of navigating a toxic workplace and are committed to connecting pharmacies with talented professionals who foster positive and healthy work environments across Australia. 

If you’re dealing with a toxic workplace or have questions about recruitment, get started with LocumCo.

Frequently Asked Question


What role does management play in fixing a toxic workplace?

Management plays a crucial role by leading by example, fostering open communication, showing appreciation, respecting employees’ needs, and maintaining fairness.

Can a toxic work environment be turned around?

Yes, with committed efforts from management and employees to address the issues and implement positive changes, a toxic work environment can be transformed into a supportive and productive one.