Practical Steps for Positive Workplaces (online)


Being able to enjoy our lives and our work is important. In our post-pandemic age, the focus on wellbeing at work is sharper, and we are beginning to consider the elements of workplaces which are problematic.

This course introduces delegates to the fundamentals of human performance in the workplace: motivation, personality, and interpersonal behaviour through culture. These are all elements where toxicity can creep in, where we might see toxic workloads, toxic cultures and toxic people.

We will look at how unmanageable workloads, those which are demanding and stressful, which eat into recreational time and sleep cycles, can be better managed. Suggestions for regaining optimal performance levels -good engagement for the long term, will be offered.

We will also consider the effects of toxic cultures (e.g. where individuals are singled out, where the environment is not psychologically safe, where equity is not guaranteed), and what can be done to improve the situation, or re-frame it such that the toxicity is mitigated.

The third kind of toxicity we see in workplaces comes from individuals, and it is these individuals who can do the most damage: capable of devious and careless behaviour which can destroy people, teams and ultimately, their organisations. We will explore the underpinnings and the outcomes of the behaviour from these toxic people, when often people find they lack a proper vocabulary to define what is happening to them, and unaffected co-workers seem unable or unwilling to recognize the problem.

This course takes a positive view of the potential sources of toxicity in our workplaces, opens the lid on otherwise unspoken toxic behaviour, and provides the terminology to recognize, identify and verbalize toxicity. Participants will learn about psychological tools and techniques to recognize and protect themselves, and be introduced to self-repair strategies to facilitate better mental health.

Programme details

This course is open to all and uses the context of the workplace to discuss toxic culture and pathological behaviour.
Using an evidence base and case study, participants will explore toxicity in culture and workload.

You will also have the opportunity to consider the nature of toxic individuals, explore their pathological personality traits, and learn to identify the signs and strategies they employ. Finally strategies to combat toxicity, and recover from it, will be explored. 

Key Themes 

  • Identifying elements of culture, and how they might be toxic
  • Expectations and management of toxic workloads
  • Identifying Pathology in Personality: toxic people
  • Recovery and maintenance of optimal performance for good mental health
  • Survival strategies

By the end of the course you will be able to: 

  • Identify and describe elements of workplace toxicity 

  • Recognize the signs and strategies of the pathological personality in the workplace 

  • Use strategies to protect yourself from some of the effects of toxicity 

  • Use strategies to recover from some effects of workplace toxicity 

Dates, times and delivery 

Sessions will be held over Microsoft Teams. 

The course will be delivered in four 1.5 hour sessions, dates and times to be confirmed.

To support the online sessions, you should actively engage in offline activities, such as the introductory tasks. Please build in extra time around each online session to allow for any technical issues. 

A world clock, and time zone converter can be found here: 

This is a ‘virtual classroom’ course. To replicate the experience of a classroom, the sessions are live and are not recorded. 

No attendance at Oxford is required and you do not need to purchase any software.

Accessing Your Online Course 

Details about accessing the private MS Teams course site will be emailed to you during the week prior to the course commencing.  

Please get in touch if you have not received this information within three working days of the course start date. 


To complete the course, you will be required to attend and participate in all of the live sessions on the course in order to be considered for a certificate. Participants who complete the course will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course.

The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will also be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so.


Description Costs
Standard course fee £425.00


Fees include electronic copies of course materials.

All courses are VAT exempt.

Please note that places are subject to availability, with classes limited to 20 people.

Register immediately online 

Click the “book now” button on this webpage. Payment by credit or debit card is required.


Dr Jane Pollock

Course Director

Independent Consultant and Researcher

Jane is a Chartered Psychologist, an Independent Consultant in Organisational Psychology, and a tutor and lecturer in Psychology and Statistics. She has a history of highly successful courses in both Psychology and Business streams, and takes a practical approach to a subject crucial to the success of people in organisations.


If you would like to discuss your application or any part of the application process before applying, please click Contact Us at the top of this page.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online using Microsoft Teams. You will be required to follow and implement the instructions we send you to fully access Microsoft Teams on the University of Oxford's secure IT network.

To participate you must be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.
It is advised to use headphones with working speakers and microphone.