According to a 2023 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, “92% of workers said it is very (57%) or somewhat (35%) important to them to work for an organization that values their emotional and psychological well-being.”

With this statistic in mind, people leaders should constantly be monitoring the health of their organizations with respect to workplace culture. The landscape of modern organizations is fraught with challenges, not the least of which is the prevalence of toxic workplace cultures. From stress-induced burnout to pervasive negativity, the consequences of toxicity ripple through every aspect of organizational life. Fortunately, with intentional practices, people leaders can chart a course towards healthier, more sustainable workplaces.

  1. Understanding the Impact of Toxicity

The American Psychological Association’s 2023 Work in America Survey presents a sobering reality: a staggering 76% of employees experience work-related stress. What’s more alarming is that 28% of employees report experiencing stress frequently. This pervasive stress not only undermines individual well-being but also takes a toll on organizational performance, leading to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and higher turnover rates.  Organizations cannot afford to ignore the human cost of toxicity within our organizations.

2. Fostering Psychological Safety

Psychological safety is the bedrock of a healthy workplace culture—one where employees feel safe to voice their opinions, take risks, and innovate without fear of judgment or reprisal. Research cited in the APA survey reveals that organizations with high levels of psychological safety are 2.5 times more likely to be high-performing. This statistic underscores the importance of cultivating an environment where trust, respect, and open communication are the norm. People leaders must prioritize initiatives that promote psychological safety, such as regular feedback sessions, team-building exercises, and leadership training focused on empathy and active listening.

3. Promoting Work-Life Integration

In today’s hyperconnected world, achieving work-life balance has become increasingly challenging. The APA survey sheds light on this issue, revealing that 42% of employees regularly check work email outside of working hours. This constant connectivity blurs the boundaries between work and personal life, leading to burnout and diminished well-being. People leaders must champion initiatives that promote work-life integration, such as flexible work arrangements, telecommuting options, and policies that encourage employees to disconnect from work during non-working hours. By fostering a culture that respects and prioritizes employees’ personal time, organizations can enhance employee satisfaction and retention while mitigating the risks of burnout.

4. Nurturing Emotional Resilience

Emotional resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks and thrive in the face of adversity. In today’s fast-paced work environment, cultivating emotional resilience is essential for maintaining well-being and productivity. The APA survey highlights the importance of supporting emotional resilience in the workplace, particularly in the face of stress and uncertainty. People leaders can support emotional resilience by providing access to resources such as counseling services, offering stress management workshops, and promoting self-care practices. By equipping employees with the tools and support they need to navigate challenges effectively, organizations can build a more resilient workforce capable of weathering the storms of change.

5. Cultivating a Culture of Accountability

Accountability is a cornerstone of organizational success—one that ensures individuals are held responsible for their actions and behaviors. The APA survey underscores the importance of accountability in fostering trust, integrity, and high performance within organizations. Research shows that organizations with high levels of accountability experience lower turnover rates and higher levels of employee engagement. People leaders can cultivate a culture of accountability by setting clear expectations, providing regular feedback and recognition, and holding individuals and teams accountable for their actions and outcomes. By fostering a culture of accountability, organizations can promote a sense of ownership and responsibility among employees, leading to increased productivity and performance.


People leaders have a responsibility to create environments where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to do their best work. By leveraging insights from the APA survey and implementing proactive strategies to address workplace toxicity, people leaders can foster healthier, more productive workplaces. Together, let’s move beyond toxic workplaces and build a future where every employee can thrive.


  • Ms. Childress is the managing attorney and founder of the Childress Firm PLLC, an employment law firm based in Washington, D.C. Ms. Childress holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government and African American Studies from the University of Virginia and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law. Ms. Childress graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with High Distinction from the University of Virginia in 2007. After law school, Ms. Childress served as a federal judicial law clerk in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Ms. Childress has served as an associate at two global law firms and as an attorney for the United States Department of Justice. Ms. Childress represents clients in all aspects of employment law. Ms. Childress has litigated retaliation, discrimination, sexual harassment, non-competition, trade secret, unfair labor practice, and whistleblower cases before various tribunals. In addition to being an attorney, Ms. Childress is the creator and author of the Juris P. Prudence children's book collection, featuring fictional 11-year-old lawyer, Juris P. Prudence. Ms. Childress has held leadership roles in the National Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division and the Washington Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. She has been the recipient of several honors, including the National Bar Association’s 2018 Young Lawyer of the Year Award, the Washington Bar Association’s 2017-2018 Young Lawyer of the Year Award, the National Bar Association’s 40 under 40 Best Advocates Award, the Kim Keenan Leadership & Advocacy Award, the Greater Washington Area Chapter of the National Bar Association’s Rising Star Award, and recognition by the National Black Lawyers as one of the top 100 black attorneys. Ms. Childress has been featured in numerous publications, including Forbes, Essence, the Huffington Post, Success, and Entrepreneur.