How to Help Fix a Toxic Work Culture
At the heart of every organization is its culture. A company’s core values provide direction and help increase engagement for its team, which may keep the organization running at maximum productivity.
Unfortunately, just like a virus, a toxic work culture may be damaging to your workforce. Productivity, camaraderie, and retention may all suffer a huge hit when employees become disengaged. TINYpulse’s 2014 Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture Report uncovered this disheartening fact: A startling 64 percent of employees don’t feel like they’re surrounded by a strong work culture. Thankfully, there are ways to help fix a broken company culture.
Create and Maintain a Transparent Environment
Sometimes leaders operate behind closed doors. There may be a reason, but shutting yourself off from being open with employees about information may backfire. In the TINYpulse report mentioned above, we found that transparency is the number one factor that contributes to employee happiness. Few people like to be shunned and kept out of the loop.
Do your employees constantly butt heads? Are they out to sabotage one another? If so, there’s a chance you’ve built a cutthroat, competitive culture
It may help if your employees know what’s going on in the organization, whether it’s suffering from financial pains or landing a huge client. Along with holding one-on-one meetings with your employees, you might consider having biweekly company meetings to maintain transparency. Regardless of how big or small your organization is, gathering everyone into one room may trump sending out a company-wide email that has a chance of getting lost.
Ensure That Community Doesn’t Equal Competition
Do your employees constantly butt heads? Are they out to sabotage one another? If so, there’s a chance you’ve built a cutthroat, competitive culture, and this is sometimes a prominent characteristic of a toxic environment. When employees can’t get along with each other, your business may have a hard time succeeding.
To build and cultivate a culture of camaraderie, you may need to be consistent in measuring a culture fit during the hiring process. However, that doesn't mean you won't ever come across a bad apple in your organization. If employees' behaviors or actions aren't aligned with your company's values—they sabotage their colleagues, consistently have a bad attitude or refuse to follow policies—you may want to consider letting them go. Even if this person is a top performer, the negative air they spread in the work environment may wreak havoc on other employees' productivity and engagement.
Listen to Your Employees Constantly
Leaders who put their employees’ voices on mute may be putting their business on the road to failure. On the other hand, a manager who asks for feedback and does nothing about it may be practically doing the same. When it comes to listening to and gathering employee feedback, there are three vital steps you might take:
- Close the open door: When was the last time your employee came waltzing through your door with a problem? Consider an anonymous pulse survey instead. These can be sent out weekly or biweekly and feature only one question. That way, managers may stay up to date with the ebbs and flows of employee sentiment.
- Share the feedback: If you want to help reinforce transparency, you might let your employees read through the anonymous responses so they can get a gauge on how their colleagues are feeling.
- Find a solution together: Schedule a meeting or set aside some time during the company meeting to discuss the survey responses. Getting your employees involved in finding solutions to these issues might help them understand that you want to improve the culture for them, not just you.
Ensuring transparency, fostering camaraderie and asking for employee feedback may be the keys to rebuilding a broken company culture. Once you put your employees at the center and build a culture around their needs, you may just create a thriving environment.
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A version of this article was originally published on July 20, 2015.