Look for warning signs of poor company culture

A toxic work environment leaves employees feeling drained, unmotivated, and unfulfilled. Negativity thrives when a culture is unstable.

Look for warning signs. These red flags will help you avoid falling into a bad work situation or staying longer than you should.

Look for warning signs_In Article

1. Lack of team bonding and communication: Poor communication can be a sign of poor leadership, unclear objectives, limited feedback, disengaged employees and damaged reputation. This impacts how employees interact and collaborate. 

2. Unmotivated employees: They damage the company’s overall outlook, and they channel their displeasure into behaviors that hurt the customer experience. 

3. No recognition for work: What gets celebrated says a lot about a company’s culture. When employee appreciation and recognition are not part of the company’s culture – or when it falls through the cracks during challenging times – turnover rates increase and employee engagement drops.

4. Unstable work-life balance: A lack of work-life balance includes employees who are expected to be available online at all hours of the day, work while on vacation, or refuse to take sick time. An unstructured work-life balance can lead to employee burnout, reduced productivity and turnover.  

5. A lack of company and project direction: When leaders and managers don’t offer clear, consistent direction, it may be time to find a new opportunity.

6. Scope creep: Sometimes, employees are asked to do work outside their defined job responsibilities. If employees are not properly trained or the workload gets too much, the effects include wasted company resources, missed deadlines, weakened team communication, reduced morale and unhappy customers.

7. Extreme criticism: When leaders and managers call out errors and failures in public, the negativity impacts employee motivation and confidence.

8. Bad reputation and reviews: A company’s bad public image, poor reputation, or low client satisfaction rate can affect you personally and professionally. 

9. Aggressive political opinions: The workplace should remain free of politics. When opinions and emotions run high, it is easy for political talk to escalate. Political discussions can contribute to stress and tension.

10. Competition over collaboration: When competition overtakes collaboration, it can cross from friendly banter to aggressive behavior. As competition becomes fierce, employees can sacrifice teamwork for individual success.

11. The absence of core company values: Clearly stated company values are a powerful declaration. Look for a statement of core values. If you can’t locate them, that could be a problem. Companies that do not live their values lose the confidence of employees.

12. High turnover rates: A healthy workplace culture makes employees more likely to stay. A poor culture drives them away. Many job seekers will avoid accepting their dream job if they discover a company has high turnover.

13. Pay does not meet the responsibility level: If possible, see how salaries compare to industry standards. Employees with lower-than-average wages may often lack motivation and quickly leave for greener pastures.

14. Employees rarely take breaks: If people feel they have too much work to take a break, or that their superior would look poorly on them for doing so, this can lead to burnout.

15. Boredom or unhappiness: Try to gauge the enthusiasm of employees at a company. Avoid places where employees look bored or unhappy; that’s a sign of a poor culture.

Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s partner for Top Workplaces.

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