Corporate leaders should carefully assess their work environments to identify issues that could be holding their organizations back. Large companies do not miss their goals based on the performance of a single employee and do not develop high turnover rates without an underlying problem in the culture. In many cases, a toxic workplace environment leads to low employee morale, productivity losses, reduced profits, and high turnover rates.
When a corporation’s culture is toxic, employees will be unhappy and will be likelier to quit without being honest about their reasons for leaving. Corporate leaders should understand the signs that they have a toxic work environment and take steps to rectify the situation. Here are seven signs that your corporate environment is toxic and needs to be addressed by the employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler.
1. Lack of Flexibility to Allow Employees to Set Their Own Goals
Many companies make the mistake of setting rigid goals that flow from the top-down. Lower-level employees are not given any flexibility for being creative or setting their own goals for how to accomplish the tasks of their jobs. A rigid, inflexible, top-down approach to goal-setting is stifling for most employees and can quickly lead to poor morale.
2. Too Many Policies and Procedures
Some companies have too many policies and procedures. Before people can do anything, they are told to check the policy manual or to ask their managers if they are allowed to do something. While having some strong workplace policies is important, having policies for everything can make the work environment akin to working in a prison instead of in a creative community.
3. There Is No Discussion When Employees Quit
When employees quit, they should be asked to answer some questions about what they think about the work environment and what would make it a better place to work. Instead of asking departing employees about their experiences, some companies fail to discuss anything with them. If your company doesn’t talk to departing employees about their experiences, you might have trouble pinpointing why so many are choosing to leave.
4. Human Resources Only Focuses on Policies and Rules
If your human resources department tends to focus on topics like benefits, compensation, and policies but tends to ignore other issues such as workload, workplace conflicts, overlapping roles, work/life balance, and the general energy in the workplace, employees who are encountering difficulties are less likely to bring these types of issues to their attention. Employees might also avoid providing suggestions for improvement when human resources staff only focus on basic HR tasks and acts as if dealing with anything else is a waste of time.
5. Employees Are Not Valued
If your organization views employees as basic cogs in the corporate wheel, they are not being properly valued. Similarly, constantly reminding employees that they are employed at-will gives them the idea that their employer does not care about their personal lives. Failing to weigh the value of your employees’ obligations outside of the workplace and requiring them to be available during weekends and evenings to answer calls or read emails can quickly lead to burnout.
You can solve a culture problem easily if you can step out of the traditional frame in which managers give the orders and employees carry them out. You can get to the heart of what’s broken in your culture and you can fix it.
By contrast, if you take steps to improve your workplace culture and demonstrate to your employees that they are valued for both who they are as well as the work they perform, they are likelier to want to continue working for you. If you devalue employees, they will likely start looking for employment elsewhere.
6. Poor Management Styles
Managers can have an outsized impact on corporate culture. If your managers spend most of their time enforcing rules and disciplining workers instead of working to coach and inspire them, the culture can quickly degrade. Employees might feel like they are not free to question whatever their managers tell them to do, and the managers might have no interest in understanding how their supervisees feel. Completing an annual engagement survey among your employees is no substitute for good management styles, especially when the survey does not result in any meaningful change.
7. Micromanagement of Employees
When employees are constantly scrutinized and micromanaged, they will likely want to leave. Constantly comparing and ranking your employees can lead to poor morale and conflict within the workplace. Reminders that employees are free to look elsewhere for jobs if they are unhappy is a good way to prompt them to move along to better, more positive opportunities. This type of environment also tends to make employees fear bringing anything to management’s attention, allowing problems to fester and spread.
Speak to an Employment Attorney
If your corporate culture is toxic, it could also open your company up to potential legal liability. It is important for organizations of all sizes to treat their employees with respect and to avoid engaging in practices that violate the law. To learn more about how to improve the culture in your workplace, contact the employment law team at Swartz Swidler by calling us at (856) 685-7420.