“Toxic,” “Retaliation,” “Unfair.” The three most frequently reported words from survey.

83% of self-identified faculty and staff disagree with the statement that "Overall, the workplace culture at CVM is positive,' according to a recent, anonymous, opt-in survey conducted online from April to August, 2023. The most common words and phrases reported were "toxic" or similar, "retaliation" or similar, and "unfair" or similar.

In the same survey, 85% disagree that the "the workplace culture at the Teaching Hospital is positive." Of note, those who 'strongly disagree' increased when asked about the Teaching Hospital.

The question was also asked in a different way, exploring whether survey respondents, regardless of their own experiences, felt that the rest of the team experienced a positive culture.  The purpose of this question was to explore whether someone with a uniquely personal experience might observe different experiences for those around them.  There was virtually no change, with 79% of respondents reporting that they don't believe the culture is positive for people other than themselves.

To understand the implications of reported workplace toxicity this stark, we spoke with a tenured professor at another university who teaches topics that deal with management and Human Resources.  "These numbers are pretty scary, but it's not the first time I've seen something like this" they said. "Workplace culture is a lot of times delicate and contagious, goes either way pretty fast. Great leaders see it coming, bad ones it can spiral way out of control. That's what these numbers tell me."

This person described the challenge of leading a modern workforce as a "complicated mish mash of liabilities, new laws, Me Too, EQ, protected classes, new attitudes, you name it. Your head will spin right off if you're on top of an organization that you don't understand how to manage in today's world."  This professor said all of these "make the workplace better, fairer, makes us empathetic and that helps us handle problems like this. But only if leadership is skilled at negotiating all these things. Understand your people, how they see things, what they need to be successful. Trust is the hardest thing to build and the easiest thing to break."

Of particular concern to this professor is the threat of legal liability. "I guarantee you, just looking at these numbers, guarantee there are legal problems boiling up somewhere down in those 85% toxic ratings," they said.

"If I were consulting an organization that showed me these numbers, I'd be looking hard at the leadership from the top down.  If the negativity were just isolated somewhere down the hall, and you had a good leader, they'd see it and they would know how to operate the organization around it.  But with reports like this, that high on the toxic work thing, guarantee it's been going on a while and it probably bleeds down from the top.  Negativity breeds negativity, and that's how you get to 80 whatever percent toxic at a place that saves puppies and kittens all day. That's hard to pull off."

Testimonials and Comments

  • "So many times I cried because I was so overwhelmed and didn't have enough support. I started to dread a job I once loved so much. I had to leave before I became another statistic."
  • "It is a HORRIBLE place to work. The HR dept knowingly allows staff to be treated poorly. They say they're helping but nothing gets done. Dr's are overworked.'
  • "Toxic culture. I was one who left due to lack of support and discrimination by senior administration."
  • "Incompetent administration and toxic environment."
  • "OSU is a toxic environment. Some departments function well, while others do not. For example, technicians are not trusted to do simple tasks (billing, patient care, procedure set up) that are the mainstays of their job. This creates a toxic environment where the technicians are not treated appropriately and their skills are not valued."
  • "Over 50 people have quit or been fired in just the past few years. Money, location, poor facilities, yes those are all issues, but many of us would have stayed if it wasn't such a difficult place to work.  College admin uses lots of excuses but nobody asks us, because we'd tell them the real answer: It's toxic here and the job is already hard enough. Other colleges are just run better and at some point, you have to pursue happiness."
  • "The environment is toxic and students are not receiving the help and resources they need."
  • "Toxic work environment and being over worked. When issues brought up, absolutely nothing is done."
  • "The culture in the hospital is unaccepting of change - the response to new ideas is always 'this is just how we do it' even when that is outdated or substandard practice. Minimal support staff and vacant clinician roles leaves double or triple responsibilities on the ones who are there, leading to burnout, exhaustion, and substandard care quickly."
  • "Very toxic environment, no leadership, miscommunication, uncompetitive compensation."
  • "Some supervisors are judgmental, cruel, and unethical. No care for their workers and act like they are all beneath working at the hospital. Some of them should not be allowed to work there."
  • "People leave because they are not valued as a human beings. Expected to take on the role of 2-3 people with no increase in pay. Management also kept hiring supervisors who were incompetent, bypassing other dedicated and loyal applicants."
  • "Toxic workplace, lack of diversity cases, and pay.
  • "Toxic work environment. Retaliatory Administration. Lack of knowledge of procedures in Veterinary Medicine. Corrupt/deceitful hiring standards. Horrifically poor treatment of staff and terrible pay."
  • "Working here you will experience unfairness and lack of respect. When you put in your heart to a place to make it the best when management doesn't care."
  • "Certain people in administration are two-faced. Given the opportunity they will get you fired and throw you under the bus and lie about you. It's not just that they target one person they target lots of people. It's why everyone just shows up, says nothing, and goes home. No one wants to get on the wrong side of those people."
  • "Toxic environment where staff are dominated by faculty, supervisors, administration."
  • "Hospital staff are so afraid that administration will come after them that everyone literally will not use the wi-fi because they are afraid certain people are spying on them."
  • "Toxic environment, feelings of a social class or elitist view environment, lack of communication or consistent communication, inconsistent work environment, unfair treatment/favoritism, concerns;problems;issues are not satisfactorily addressed or even resolved, policies; procedures not followed with any consistency across depts, work areas(some act like rules don't apply to them), atmosphere of distrust towards admin, HR, upper management, individuals, no support from supervisors, HR, management, no accountability when under performance is an issue and high performers are rewarded with more work, pay rate is not comparable to other places."
  • "I have been yelled at, witnessed workers pushed to the point of tears, and falsely accused of things I didn't do. The problem is in the management. Student workers are overworked, underpaid, and treated terribly. Some people haven't even lasted 3 shifts before quitting. The drama, shaming, and unethical environment should be changed."

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"I have been yelled at, witnessed workers pushed to the point of tears, and falsely accused of things I didn't do. The problem is in the management. Student workers are overworked, underpaid, and treated terribly. Some people haven't even lasted 3 shifts before quitting. The drama, shaming, and unethical environment should be changed."

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"Exhausted and overwhelmed residents are left to run the clinics for weeks at a time with no senior contact. Technical support often consists of barely trained undergraduate students. Staffing is unsafe for workers and patients. Doctors are required to cover technician shifts with no compensation - just out of fear that the patients will not survive otherwise. Senior technicians are ignorant of basic standards of care. If residents try to complain, they are threatened with withholding of their publication funding or certificate of completion."