Company Culture Problem? 10 Telltale Signs your Organization has one

Company Culture Problem

Company Culture Problem? 10 Telltale Signs your Organization has one


Fostering a strong corporate culture is a goal that every organization should strive for. A great company culture can mean the difference between a thriving enterprise and one that is floundering. 

What Is Corporate Culture?

Corporate culture consists of the beliefs and behaviors that are agreed upon and shared among team members. A company’s culture is usually inferred. It evolves naturally over time from the collective characteristics of the people that make up the enterprise. If there is a company culture that employees enjoy and find to be a good fit, then those employees will generally be happier and more productive. A poor cultural environment can create many challenges to the organization and its leadership and prevent it from excelling. Below are 10 indicators that you may have a cultural problem in your organization. 

High Turnover Rate

One of the greatest indicators of a toxic corporate culture is a high rate of employees heading for the exit. If you are faced with higher than average turnover in your industry and constantly rehiring for the same positions, there’s a good chance that your culture is to blame. Investigate why individuals are leaving to get to the root cause of why employees won’t stay. Be aware that employees may not always be upfront about why they are leaving as to not burn bridges. 

Lack of Core Values

A company’s values should be the driving force behind an organization. If an organization has no core values or those values are ill-defined or lack clarity, then the team will have no guiding principles in which their decisions and actions can be guided. Employers should consider, or reconsider, their values carefully and convey these values in every decision and direction that the company takes. Here are 70 examples impactful company core values as a guide. 

Elevated Levels of Tardiness or Absenteeism

Are you noticing an uptick in employees that are arriving late, or seeing a jump in absenteeism? Unless there’s a bug going around the office, it’s probably not a coincidence. Increased instances of tardiness and absenteeism usually stem from disengagement, laziness, or poor leadership at the top. Whatever the case, you can be sure that these traits are derived from- or will lead to- a negative cultural environment. 

Too Much Office Gossip

If you are seeing a lot of gossip making its way around the office, or an increase in side conversations, then you may have an office gossip problem. The reality is that there will always be office gossip and you can never truly eliminate it, but be aware of the signs that gossip is taking a toll on your organization’s culture. Gossip disrupts the work environment, undermines trust and credibility, and hurts morale- all major contributors of a damaged work culture. Address the rumor mill head on, and make clear to all members of the organization that gossip will not be tolerated in conjunction with focusing on a thriving work culture at the same time. 

Unhealthy Competition Amongst Staff

Competition amongst staff members is good when it is positive. Positive competition can encourage employees to perform beyond their normal limits, creativity in problem solving, and a more interesting work environment. However, when that competition becomes negative it can have dire consequences on the culture of an organization. It can foster an environment of animosity, backstabbing, and fear. Take steps to promote healthier competition by continuing to reward top performers while also encouraging teamwork and collaboration. Make sure that reinforcement is rewards based and not based on threats or intimidation. 

Staff Appears to Lack Motivation and Engagement

Do your staff members appear to be “checked out” regularly? Are they physically present but appear to have no engagement with the work they are doing? Do they run for the door right when the clock strikes 5? Your culture may be damaged. There are more reasons to list than this space allows for what leads to lack of motivation and engagement. However, leadership should assess and identify the root cause of demotivation before taking action, as spelled out in this Harvard Business Review article

Bad Habits

If you are finding your employees engaging in poor habits, leadership should look inward. Bad habits almost always start from the top, or they otherwise are allowed to continue, either explicitly or implicity. For example, if a mid-level manager is regularly coming in late, then you are sending a message that the behavior is acceptable. Maybe leadership regularly walks by a staff member that texts excessively without addressing the behavior. If leadership has set expectations of its team, those behaviors should be upheld, practiced, and reinforced regularly. If not, don’t be surprised to see your staff members develop bad habits that will ultimately be destructive to your corporate culture. 


Micromanagement is one of the many ways that leadership can harm your culture. If staff feels that they are constantly being analyzed, this will lead to a breakdown in trust and morale. This discouragement will naturally feed the cycle of a cultural breakdown with the organization ultimately paying the price. Identify micromanagers and work to reset expectations of managers and develop their leadership capabilities to prevent micromanagement. 

Poor Internal Communication

A failure to properly and effectively communicate within an organization is a major contributor to an underperforming company culture. Considering that 60 percent of businesses don’t have an internal communication strategy or haven’t made communication a high priority, many organizations may be feeling the effects of poor communication. Employees are often eager to share if they feel that the organization’s communication is insufficient or contradictory. Take a pulse on the ability of the business to communicate strategy, priorities, and direction and develop areas of weakness in internal communication, starting from the top down. 

Excessive Focus on Profit and Productivity

Naturally, every business exists and can only exist by turning a profit. However, profit is just one part of a company’s purpose. Companies that create an excessive focus on profit often miss the bigger picture of why employees do the work that they do. An overarching focus on financial performance may be beneficial in the short term, but in the long term it ironically will have the opposite effect. Engagement, morale, and productivity will all suffer, and your business will decline as a result. Focus on employee development, cultivating the right purpose, and monitor your company’s emphasis on the bottom line so that it becomes one sphere of the organization’s purpose and not its only goal. 

In Summary

Make sure that your company’s culture is helping to move the enterprise forward. A company’s culture is like the wind. It’s impossible to see but you can always feel it and it can change direction on a moment’s notice. Management should always be on the lookout for behaviors or signs that could be undermining their company culture.

By understanding the major contributors that are negatively affecting your workplace culture, you can begin to identify the root causes of what is preventing a cohesive culture. Leaders can take action to right the ship to make sure an enterprise’s culture is wind in their sails propelling them forward, and not holding them back.