A new survey suggests that some banter can quickly taint workplace culture. 

According to the survey from the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment and Focal Point, 40% of respondents said that banter about them made them insecure and hindered their mental health. 

While banter can have its place, when jokes single out, mock or exclude an employee, company culture can come crashing down and soon turn very toxic.  

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But how can workers determine what the tipping point is? 

Simply put, if the purpose of the joke is to make someone uncomfortable, it should be assumed that this is taking banter too far. 

The findings revealed what workers considered inappropriate banter, which ranged from outright sexist or racist behavior, to comments about weight or appearance.  

For instance, one respondent said that despite being a well-respected middle manager, jokes about his shorter-than-average height from higher ups led him to feel humiliated. Not only did these “jokes” come from a person in a position of power, it also normalized this behavior to other workers.  

In fact, the survey finds that workers contribute 69% less in meetings due to banter, while one-third have even considered looking for a new job. 

While no one wants to be viewed as a party pooper, power dynamics in the workplace further complicate the situation. Workers are often taught to speak up when there is a workplace issue, but when the inappropriate banter comes from leaders, it can make employees fearful of retaliation.  

Twenty-six percent of respondents said that they avoided this type of confrontation because they did not feel like any action would be taken.  

Luckily, there has been a significant shift in workplace expectations. As employees increasingly take matters into their own hands, leaders who ignore signs of a toxic culture are expected to see an increased chance of turnover rate. 

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