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15 Signs That Your Company Has a Poor Work Culture

Imagine this, you have just been hired as an employee in a large company with a global presence. You’re excited about your first day of work and that excitement stays with you for the first few months.

There’s a lot of negativity and complaining in the office. There are tons of crises and you bear the brunt of workload pressures. Management is busy and running around and no one seems to notice the unrest. Over time you begin to feel anxious and frustrated about going into the office daily. A feeling of resentment starts to build and one day you realize that you are part of a large group of your peers who have the same feeling of disengagement in the workplace. One fine day, you realize this is not what you wanted and you decide to quit.

Now let’s look at what happened to you. How did it feel to be disengaged? Terrible, right?

That’s how every employee feels when they are part of a poor work culture. That is why poor work culture is one of the top reasons for high employee attrition.

While there is a lot of noise about solutions to create a happier workplace, you might want to first identify whether or not your organization or department has a poor culture.

There are specific indicators to recognize when the culture is not encouraging for your employees. Surprisingly, most people don’t always recognize these signs and this can enormously affect the productivity and image of the company.

As you read further, brace yourself as you could end up realizing that your workplace culture isn’t what you think it is.

So, ready to find out? Read on…

Signs of a Poor Work Culture:

Increasing Number of Regular Late Comers

An emergency doesn’t come too often. Reasons to skip work like ‘Personal Issues’ or ‘Stuck in Traffic’ mentioned too many times is a clear indicator that your employee feels indifferent to the workplace or just straight-out hates coming to the office. Many a times, this is because of unfriendly working conditions or unreasonable deadlines resulting in too much overtime.

Regularly checking in late is not just a sign of deteriorating passion of an employee but also gives a rather sad picture of the level of respect one has for his/her position, job and the organization.


Sub-par Performance

Organizations like Google don’t just create top performers, they attract them through their employer brand image (which people keep talking about) and their culture of work which motivates employees to go above and beyond their limits to get and keep a job in the organization.

You can’t expect a stellar performance when you don’t provide the optimal conditions for your talent to perform.

Or on the other hand, a lack of sufficient and timely recognition when your staff produces quality results, can cause them to care less about performance in the future.

Frequent Breaks

Most employers hate those who take breaks too frequently and certainly see this as a sign of poor productivity. Only a few realize the actual cause of these frequent breaks is often a lack of interest and passion for work.

Although enthusiasm and drive is intrinsic, frequent breaks speak volumes about the unsatisfactory culture of an organization.

Most employees working in large corporations take every opportunity to get outside and grab a cup of coffee or a snack. Don’t be surprised when I tell you that most of this break time is spent ranting and cribbing about every single annoying detail of the workplace.


No Employee Interaction Outside Work

A strong relationship with peers, trust, and camaraderie are important characteristics of a great work culture. Besides that, friendly colleagues will certainly motivate your staff to wake up and check-in fresh in the morning.

You know your culture needs work when the only conversation your employees have with each other is regarding work. Conversations that almost always begin with “Did you get that work done?” or “Hey, I need your help with this task” are warning signs.

Repeated ‘Work From Home’


Some companies offer options of working within the comforts of your house. It is a popular practice in the startup world and by companies with multiple locations.

Even though it is understandable at some point to work from home (WFH), especially if it is on a schedule, watch out for too many unscheduled WFHs. Frequent emails by your employees regarding this matter calls for immediate attention.

Very similar to my first point, repeated excuses like “WFH, a little under the weather.” or “WFH, got some personal work” may not be genuine. It screams poor work culture.


Coming Up With A New Idea Isn’t My Job!

Well, in some instances, you could let this is one slide assuming that it’s because of lack of confidence or lack of innovative thinking. Although a subtle one, it is most definitely a possible indicator of an organizational culture that has a narrow minded, closed approach towards employees’ ideas and opinions.

In short, what I’m trying to say is ‘No one likes talking to the wall’. Don’t be the wall.

Referrals? No way!

If your Employee Referral program is the least active part among the various things going on in the company, it’s a big red light.

When you get suggestions of a potential employee from your current staff, it implies that they market the brand and the company for you. Employee referrals have proven to be an effective, surefire source to recruit the best.

Multiple, Quick ‘Good-Byes’ to the Company

During my time at a large banking firm, I witnessed four resignations in my first six months of being there.

I took that as a sign saying, ‘Get out while you can’ and ultimately gave in my papers few months after.

After some research, I realized that this wasn’t rare. According to Gallup, 21% of millennials had changed jobs in the past year, while 60% were willing to consider a switch.

One or two fall outs after a year or so is acceptable. Beyond that, consider it a terrible work culture.

Cold and Distant State of Relations

Understanding and identifying this evidence requires patient, subtle and systematic observations.

Apart from peer-to-peer relations, the interactions between a boss and a subordinate is sufficient indicator to judge the level of comfort employees have in general. A bad boss-employee relationship leads to 75%  of the causes of employee turnover.

Office, Not a Second Home!

When you enter the office early in the morning, do you see a shabby dump in work spaces?

Do most of your employees have a desk with a heap of stuff lying around?

That’s okay, why would they care about the office, right? …….WRONG!

When your employees feel pleasant and comfortable at work, you bet they’d keep their office even cleaner than their own home.


Uhhmm..I Have Nothing to Say

So, you’re looking to get some feedback on a project or on other work issues but nobody seems be saying a word? This can be due to two reasons:

One, they don’t care enough to do so. (Because they’ve tried, and nothing changed).

And second, they are afraid. (Because they’ve tried, and things became worse for themselves).

Both these reasons should be an eye-opener to employers to work on how they handle and interact with their talent’s criticisms and opinions.


Blame Game

No one likes to be the scapegoat of another person’s screwups. This leads to dissatisfaction in the long run.

It’s a sign of bad leadership when blame has been trickled down to your staff. In some cases, it can get worse and lead to finger-pointing within groups.


Not Sure What The Plan Is

“Do you have an idea about what the organization’s strategy is? “, “Write down five of the most important company policies and goals.” 

These are some popular questions employees are asked. If you aren’t getting the right answer, it is an indication of poor work culture. It might be because of multiple changes in company strategy or lack of transparency to the team.


Fear to Take any Step

Are you getting a lot of requests with the subject ‘Please Review’? Does your team need your guidance on everything?

This can be a sign of fear where employees are afraid to take even the tiniest step without confirmation. This restricts employees from tapping into their full potential.

Additionally, one of the ways you lose employees is when they are stifled due a lack of freedom, and a perceived lack of confidence in their abilities.


Why Didn’t You Tell Me Earlier?!

In a company with a poor work culture, you’ll never hear the bad news on time. Your employees may be too afraid or not bothered to let you know when it actually matters.


Let’s Summarize

Around 64% of the employees feel that they don’t have a strong work culture in their company which is one of the major reasons for them leaving their jobs.

This can be due to numerous reasons and the first step to solving this problem is to understand the situation, using the indicators mentioned above.

Once you’ve identified that you have a problem, make sure you don’t waste the opportunity to improve it. Look for an effective but budget-friendly solution.

Featured in Silicon Review as one of top ten tech startups, Sproutlogix offers cutting edge solutions at affordable rates to help companies Engage, Develop, and Retain their top talent.

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