Kelly Clarkson Says She Was 'Blindsided' by Toxic Work Environment Claims at Talk Show

The host of 'The Kelly Clarkson Show' says there is a plan in place to create a better work environment.

Kelly Clarkson has plans to change how work is done at her talk show after some staffers said it was a "toxic" environment.

In a Rolling Stone expose published in May, one current and 10 former employees of The Kelly Clarkson Show spoke out about their time working on the NBC program.

"Kelly has no clue how unhappy her staff is," one former employee told Rolling Stone. Among the allegations lobbied against the production, the employees told Rolling Stone that they were overworked, underpaid, and that their mental health suffered as a result of working on the show. 

Now, in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Clarkson says she was "blindsided" by the comments from the anonymous staffers. 

And while the claims were shocking for her, Clarkson wants to learn from this. "I think the important thing is, I think we get into this mindset of canceling everything or everyone. And I think that’s not unhealthy because it’s like, 'OK then…' Because what you’re saying is every time somebody says something, then it’s just over," she explains. "And it’s like, that’s not how you work on things. You have to progress. You have to go, 'Oh man, well maybe we can do better at this. Obviously, we might have missed the mark here, so what can we do better?'"

The 41-year-old entertainer is moving herself and The Kelly Clarkson Show to New York City ahead of season 5, and says her team has a plan in place to create a better work environment, especially upon merging some of her L.A. staffers with new employees in NYC. 

"Our whole thing is connection, inclusivity, everything like that. So we were already planning on [addressing], 'How are we going to marry these groups and make sure everybody feels like they’re valued and a part of the team?' And that there’s not like, 'Oh, they’re the L.A. team, the New York team,'" she shares. "So we already had that mentality before any of this happened."

While Clarkson admits "it sucks to have something, anything happen behind-the-scenes that you maybe didn’t know," she's says "it’s a great point."

"Season five, let’s start, let’s remind everybody who we are, not only on the outside, but on the inside and how we like to carry ourselves and how we like to… I don’t know, just proceed in everyday work life," she tells THR. "A lot of us are older now. I’m 41. I’m like, 'I don’t want to come to work with people not having a good time.' I don’t need to, I’d rather be in my ranch if I’m being real. So I want everybody to feel happy and feel empowered and inspired. And I think that’s all that did for us is one, recognize: 'OK, there’s something wrong, maybe.' I didn’t know when that first came out. So, how do we fix this? How do we be better and better examples? So we’re already doing that, and adding onto what we already had planned initially, just to make sure everybody feels included and a part of the team."

Clarkson couldn't be happier to be relocating to NYC following her divorce from Brandon Blackstock. "My ex does not like living in a city like this, but I just never had done it and I literally called one of the heads and was like, 'Listen, my life has been a dumpster fire and I'm really unhappy in L.A. and I don't know if I'll continue in L.A. What are our thoughts about possibly moving this to New York?'" she shared with Andy Cohen for a SiriusXM Town Hall special earlier this week. "And luckily, right from the get-go, NBC was like, "...It was like I can't exist [in L.A.] any longer. Like, I'm so lonely. My whole family is across the country. I think COVID pointed that out too for everybody. It was like, wow. You can like experience a different depth of lonely."

She added, "This city, that's the thing that attracts me most is that everybody here has their own life, supportive of people, but not living vicariously through your life. They have their own stuff going on and it's just like, awesome. Like, people say 'Hi' and they'll be like, 'What's up?' and then you go on about your day. I love that."

Prior to doing interviews in promotion of her upcoming album, Chemistry, out Friday, Clarkson did address the "toxic work environment" claims by posting a statement to Instagram. 

"In my 20 years in the entertainment industry, I've always led with my heart and what I believed to be right," she wrote just after the expose came out. "I love my team at The Kelly Clarkson Show, and to find out that anyone is feeling unheard and or disrespected on this show is unacceptable. I have always been, and will continue to be, committed to creating a safe and healthy environment at The Kelly Clarkson Show. As we prepare for a move to the east coast, I am more committed than ever to not only ensure that our team that is moving, but also our new team in NY, is comprised of the best and kindest in the business."

"Part of that build will include leadership training for all of the senior staff, including myself," she continued. "There is always room to grow and ensure we are all being/becoming the best version of ourselves in any business, especially when it comes to leadership, to ensure that any notion of toxicity is eradicated."

Clarkson's statement on Instagram came just after a spokesperson for NBCU addressed the article, telling ET, "We are committed to a safe and respectful work environment and take workplace complaints very seriously and to insinuate otherwise is untrue."