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Book helpful to companies as workers return from COVID-19 shutdown

June 24, 2020


Teresa A. Daniel, JD, PhD
Dean & Professor-Human Resource Leadership Program
Sullivan University

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Sullivan University Dean and Professor Dr. Teresa Daniel, a leading expert on the management of human capital, has written a timely and unique book titled Organizational Toxin Handlers: The Critical Role of HR, OD, and Coaching Practitioners in Managing Toxic Workplaces Situations. The book examines HR’s role in helping employees deal with toxic workplace emotions that are caused by difficult organizational decisions and situations. The numerous return to work issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic are a prime example of the types of issues causing stress to both employees and their organizations. HR practitioners have never been more relevant or more in demand. The book is being published by Palgrave Macmillan and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

"The term ‘toxin handler’ is a new one for many. These are people in organizations—usually in HR and OD positions--who help employees deal with organizational toxicity and difficult emotions at work so that they can stay focused and productive," Dr. Daniel said. "With the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy in freefall, and difficult layoff and return-to-work decisions currently being made by organizations across the country, many employees are worried about staying safe and also about the health of their families and co-workers. What that means is that many are returning to work stressed out and worried about whether their organization will even survive. Bottom line: they are bringing a lot of angst back with them. As a result, we need toxin handlers more than ever."

Other workplace stress points that could cause problems for HR include layoffs, restructurings, harassment, discrimination, personality conflicts, or an abusive boss. Unfortunately, these types of events are predictable and somewhat inevitable, but it is the way organizations handle the situations that can create a serious problem for employees. Her book focuses on the balancing act that HR practitioners must perform of caring for employees and championing their causes while at the same time driving toward organizational goals.

"This book provides strategies that HR and OD practitioners can use to help them to anticipate and navigate the organizational toxicity caused by some of the inevitable and difficult people-related situations that are likely to come their way, especially during these unprecedented times" Dr. Daniel said.

“Toxin handlers will help people feel better about returning to work; in turn, this will allow them to become focused and productive more quickly. That's good for both the employee and also for their employer."

The book grew out of a popular 3-part series of articles Dr. Daniel wrote for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) last year. The research study which served as a foundation for both the articles and this new book was funded by a faculty research grant from Sullivan University.

"While HR practitioners frequently deal with these types of issues, nobody really talks about it—likely because they didn’t have a term for it. Now they do—organizational toxin handler—and it is a critical and valuable contribution to both employees and to their organizations," she said.

Dr. Daniel is the co-author of Stop Bullying at Work: Strategies and Tools for HR, Legal, & Risk Management Professionals (2016) and two other HR-related books, The Management of People in Mergers & Acquisitions (2001) and Cash Balance Pension Plans: A Practical Primer (2000). 

She holds a PhD in Human & Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, CA, a Juris Doctorate from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, and a Bachelor of Science degree from Centre College with a double major in psychology and education.

Dr. Daniel was named as an Initial Fellow of the International Academy on Workplace Bullying, Mobbing, and Abuse in 2014, a Fulbright Senior Scholar in 2004, and she was honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumnus at Centre College.

About Sullivan University

Sullivan University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097, call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Sullivan University or visit them online

The University offers numerous certificates, diplomas, and degrees in career-orientated programs, ranging from business, pharmacy, human resources, I.T. and cybersecurity, supply-chain management, culinary and baking and pastry arts, hospitality studies, conflict management, nursing, allied health sciences, HVAC-R, interior design, and legal studies. Sullivan University has campuses in Louisville and Lexington, an extension in Fort Knox on the U.S. Army Post and Learning Centers in Louisa and Mayfield. Sullivan University also has many programs available partially or wholly online. For more information, visit