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Published date: January 17, 2020
Last modified: January 17, 2020

5 warning signs of a dangerously broken company culture

In the corporate world, company culture defines nearly everything. Throughout the last decade, the success and failure of companies were often indicative of their internal culture. The signs were there long before closure that things weren’t right.

Take WeWork, for example. Externally, the company seemed to be plying workers with all the trappings of a modern startup culture-centric business. Social media was awash with images of the company’s impressive offices, of unlimited alcohol on tap and constant fun corporate events – however, these were simply a façade; a face that the company put on externally to make themselves look good. Internally, the culture was crumbling with lightning-fast turnovers, reports of harassment, rolling firings and redundancies, directionless leaders and a CEO with no grounding in ensuring that his people’s wellbeing was taken care of.

It could happen to you

WeWork is a dramatic example, yet the signs of poor culture don’t have to be as in-your-face. It’s possible for a culture to be just as toxic and broken, without the signs being immediately obvious to leaders.

Understanding the indications that you have an issue can be the difference between being in business and not being in business. INC stated that employees subjected to poor culture in the workplace “markedly loosened bonds with their work-life,” whilst nearly half of employees “decreased [their] work effort” and intentionally spent less time at work. 38% “intentionally decreased” the quality of their work.

What are the signs?

Whilst the core offending elements may differ from company to company, a study of 1,000 workplaces by Culture Vigilance found that there were some key elements that generally defined whether employees considered their culture damaged or broken.

Value for the company over company values (37%)

If the whole company is aimed solely at making money and drawing as much ROI as possible from each and every employee and not on how you can improve employee wellbeing, then chances are your people don’t feel valued at all. Undervalued employees perform worse than those who feel engaged.

Reprehensible behaviour from top leaders (32%)

Employees take cues from those at the top, both good and bad. When CEOs at stalwart companies like Barnes & Noble and Papa John’s (to, unfortunately, name just a few) engage in sexual harassment or racist behaviours, how are employees supposed to feel? Usually, betrayed.

It’s essential that when things aren’t as they should be, workers know exactly where the line of accountability leads, and understand who they can talk to about it. Without an outlet (usually either a direct manager of HR), workers will become disillusioned and disengaged.

Insufficient investment in people (25%)

Its people are the best asset that a company has. Retaining key talent has a direct effect on productivity, depth of company knowledge and the satisfaction of your customers. To retain people, they must feel cared for and invested in.

Lack of diversity and inclusion (18%)

The key issue with hiring for ‘cultural fit’ is that often, this simply creates an echo chamber of like minded individuals, bringing no new or outside perspective to the creative table. Diversity and inclusion are essential as it adds a variety to companies that is imperative to success, let alone being fair and equality-driven.

Thanks to Executive Grapevine

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