By Lilian Mwaka

An arsonist is a person who maliciously sets properties on fire. An office arsonist described by Pete Havel in the book, The Arsonist in the Office – is a person/fanatic who is untouchable, litigation-happy, and complaint-filing.

Organizational culture is a set of values, attitudes, beliefs, systems, and assumptions shared in a workplace. This is the glue that binds all the people in an organization. However, it is hard to achieve organizational culture, especially among organizations with young employees. This leads to office politics.

Office politics arises when employees misuse power to gain undue attention and popularity. Employees engage in work politics to defame their colleague’s reputations to obtain advantages and please their bosses or other colleagues.

People gain influence from sharing other peoples’ weaknesses and personal lives outside work. This, therefore, creates a toxic work environment, which is dangerous, especially in this wave of mental instability among the youth.

A toxic work environment comprises actions and behaviors that undermine or affect the physical or mental state through spreading falsehoods, negativity, and traumas.

A toxic workplace will never change when management allows gossip, favoritism, unprofessionalism, and office politics to prevail.

In the current workplace situations, career men and women battle with personal problems. They are forced to fight work pressure-related issues, gossip, and unprofessional coworkers.

Employees are suffering at the hands of their fellow employees. Gossip has become the order of the day. Every day there is new gossip. Psychological safety is not guaranteed in our workplaces.

If you dig deep, many employees require professional counseling services, not because of personal issues but because of work-related politics.               

These are the people I refer to as office arsonists. They burn reputation, vandalize self-confidence, and destabilize the mental state, thus affecting the credibility and productivity of other employees.

This can destroy the careers of many hardworking employees. Curbing such poor organizational cultures will encourage productivity and increase the efficiency of employees.

Strict measures should be taken against workplace arsonists. Creating a healthy organizational culture starts with the top management. If you want a great company culture, avoid office politics, favoritism, bullying, gossiping, etc. No amount of money or perks is worth staying in a toxic environment.