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HCI Webinar: Identify and Responding to Toxic Work Cultures, with Aoife O’Brien

In the latest HCI Webinar, Dr. Jonathan H. Westover talks with Aoife O’Brien about identify and responding to toxic work cultures. Below is a summary of the main points from their conversation! Check out the full episode and let us know what you think!


Watch the episode here:


Quick Recap


The conversation between Jonathan and Aoife focused on identifying and dealing with toxic workplaces. Aoife shared her personal experiences and emphasized the importance of asking the right questions before joining an organization, being honest about challenges and expectations, and connecting with others in the organization to understand the company culture. Jonathan agreed with her points and suggested reaching out to current employees for a better understanding of the company culture. They also discussed the importance of recognizing the difference between constructive disagreement and toxicity, and the potential impact of toxic workplaces on one's mental health and career progression.


Toxic Leadership and Company Culture


Aoife emphasized the importance of asking the right questions when joining an organization to ensure it's not toxic, sharing her personal experiences with toxic leadership. She encouraged others to know they're not alone in such situations and highlighted the importance of honesty and understanding in the job market. Jonathan agreed with her points, and suggested reaching out to current employees for a better understanding of the company culture. They concluded the conversation by discussing the importance of being upfront about challenges and expectations on both sides of the employment relationship.


Toxic Work Cultures and Advocacy


Jonathan and Aoife had a conversation about identifying and responding to toxic work cultures. They shared their personal experiences and emphasized the importance of recognizing the difference between constructive disagreement and toxicity. Aoife, as the founder of happier at work, aims to support women in the workplace and to build healthier cultures. She also shared her journey from surviving a toxic environment to advocating for better workplace cultures.


Professional Journey and Toxic Workplace Experience


Aoife shared her professional journey, working in the fast-moving consumer goods sector with a focus on market research. She highlighted her positive experiences working in large agencies with global and local clients, analyzing data, and her ambition. She also discussed a toxic work culture she encountered when living abroad in Australia. She noted the high turnover of employees, lack of transparency, and a mismatch of values, which made her question her own confidence. She expressed regret for not recognizing the red flags earlier and for not understanding the magnitude of the toxicity until she began to research it.


Creating Positive Work Environments


Aoife shared her experiences about not feeling satisfied in a role where she couldn't excel and work to her strengths, described as not a toxic environment, but a poor fit. Jonathan agreed and emphasized that work doesn't have to be miserable and that leaders can create healthier, more collaborative environments. They discussed the importance of being intentional about creating positive work environments and the possibility of finding better opportunities. They also highlighted the importance of understanding personal needs and preferences when selecting a workplace, as what might be toxic or unsuitable for one person could be ideal for another.


Toxic Workplaces: Strategies and Impacts


Jonathan and Aoife discussed strategies for dealing with potentially toxic work environments. Aoife emphasized the importance of connecting with others in the organization to understand the company culture and consider options such as leaving or staying and advocating for change. They also discussed the potential impact of toxic workplaces on one's mental health and career progression. Aoife suggested that if one cannot leave, it's crucial to shift the mindset towards choosing to stay for personal reasons and focusing on making a positive impact. She also highlighted the need for companies to hold their employees accountable for upholding the company's values.


Toxic Workplaces: Strategies and Resources


Aoife and Jonathan discussed the topic of toxic workplaces, with Aoife sharing her personal experiences and strategies for dealing with such environments. They emphasized the importance of speaking out against toxic behavior and establishing appropriate boundaries. Jonathan highlighted the need for recognizing and accepting change in toxic workplaces and the potential for growth and improvement. Aoife mentioned the availability of resources such as employee assistance programs. They concluded by encouraging the audience to recognize and alter their mindset when dealing with toxic workplaces.


Listen to the webinar here:




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