Updated: Mar 9
A healthy company culture is crucial for a business to operate efficiently. Given that employee well-being often depends on how well they interact with each other, fostering a positive company attitude helps growth within the business as well as promotes a healthy work environment.
However, it can be easy for leaders to miss noticing when a workforce is turning sour, especially as it’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly is going wrong. To help, we consulted members of Forbes Coaches Council about the telltale warning signs of toxic company culture, as well as how they advise addressing the issues. Here’s what they said:
1. Lack Of Productivity
Lack of productivity is one warning sign that company culture is toxic. The first step to fixing the problem is to talk to employees to determine if they feel they are being empowered to perform at the standards necessary for success. – Elizabeth Ruiz, EAR Enterprises
2. Employee Feedback Being Ignored
One example is a company that does not take input from employees who are not on the executive team. My first step is to implement meetings and facilitate an environment that allows employees to give monthly or quarterly feedback. This can be done anonymously or publicly. – Gabrielle Leonard, Gabrielle Leonard Studios
3. Negative, Ego-Based Energy
One of the biggest indicators a company culture is toxic is negative, ego-based energy that can manifest as gossip, burnout and high turnover. The first step to fixing this is cultivating a culture of being conscious or highly self-aware. No amount of training, policies or systems will resolve the underlying source of the problem without first addressing what’s going on with people from the inside. – Anna Choi, Anna Sun Choi Llc
4. Disgruntled, Rude Employees
Unfortunately, this does occur when employees are disgruntled, complain, gossip, become rude and offensive, or may shut down and isolate completely. Communication is a remarkable solution. As an HR person, I would identify the core of the issue and then have one-on-one conversations to understand the issues. Once I have a good understanding, then I would formulate solutions or policy, if needed, and communicate via a group meet or town hall. Follow-up with individuals, interviewed one-on-one, is critical to ensure resolution is effective. – Jane Gios, HR Solutions Network
5. High Turnover
There are several signs—low production, high turnover rate and lack of input, to name a few. My first step would be to hold confidential interviews with key employees to determine where the culture is falling short. Then, two things would begin: The removal or remediation of what is causing cultural toxicity, and then proactive procedures to rebuild trust and safety, create vision and employee buy-in. – Anita Hodges, Impact Coaching and Consulting
Gossip sucked back in middle school and it still sucks in the workplace. As a leadership consultant and a certified mediator, I spend a lot of time with teams in conflict. Gossiping doesn’t resolve conflict and it doesn’t build trust. The middle school rule applies at the office too: If they are talking about someone else to you, chances are they are talking about you to someone else. Building trust is the antidote to gossip. Team agreements can help a team focus their time and energy on what matters, and not on gossip. – Amy Leneker, Compass Consulting, LLC
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