A toxic company culture can affect your productivity and how your employees perceive their value. Toxicity is not always visible from the outside of a company. For instance, one New York Times article exposed the culture at Amazon as far from ideal, where workers were encouraged to tear each other’s ideas apart in meetings and work well past midnight. Unfortunately, for an employee looking for a new job, it’s not always easy to see the culture until they are already inside.
A competitive environment may instead be cutthroat, the company may only pay lip service to diversity or the politics may be overwhelming and toxic. Public humiliation and criticism may be tolerated from the top down and the bosses may believe there’s only one way to do things.
Changing the culture is a challenging process, but it is not impossible and it reaps great rewards. A toxic culture can result in unmotivated employees and a dissatisfied workforce that’s constantly looking for a way out. Here are indicators that your culture is becoming toxic and some suggestions on how to fix it.
Being all things to all people
Unfortunately, in some companies managers are encouraged to be everything to all people inside the organization. This creates exhaustion and means opportunities are missed to recognize individual strengths and leverage those to get the work done. Although it may be easier to believe that the only one who can get the work done is you, this path of least resistance creates more problems than it solves. Instead, encourage managers who have this attitude to seek out those in their department who may be able to take on additional responsibilities. This communicates trust, drives performance and energizes employees.
Lack of core values
One clear sign a company has a toxic culture is when there are no clear core values on which every employee understands the rules of behavior are based. It’s a little bit like letting the children determine the rules in your home. If you find your company has inadvertently headed down that road, put the brakes on and schedule a day-long meeting for your management staff to develop the core values for your company. Communicate these through every layer of the staff so everyone is aware of the values and the roles.
Lack of empathy
A toxic culture exists anywhere when there is a lack of empathy. Whether at home, at work or in any recreational team activity, when there is no empathy it’s hard for people to believe that anyone cares about them. Leaders who are indifferent to their employees needs or performance drive a downward spiral into low morale. Encourage your management staff to invest time in small talk and personal conversation with their staff. This engenders trust and improves professional relationships. A combination of core values and improved empathy in your management staff helps your employees to feel appreciated and valued, giving them a sense of stability, safety, and recognition.
In an economy in flux, employees will sometimes switch to survival mode. This is a bit like working under a cloud of fear about losing a job, the company is being sold or the company going under. When employees are more worried about keeping their job than they are about productivity and raising the level of the company, questionable choices may be made or behavior not normally accepted will go unnoticed. Employees need reliable information, including bad news. Most people would rather have the straightforward truth to allow them to make better plans. Sometimes leaders are tempted to sugarcoat the information but most would prefer a clear “no” to a “we’ll see.”
If your company is struggling with a shortage of employees or needs to fill a few key positions, Stellar Staffing Solutions makes accurate placements to boost the productivity of your company. Contact one of our professional recruiters today, and let’s get started growing your company’s staff.