7 Warning Signs of a Bad Company Culture

A good company culture is essential for success in any business. A strong corporate culture can promote employee engagement, productivity, and loyalty to the organization. Unfortunately, there are many signs of a toxic company culture that can have a negative impact on employees’ job satisfaction and morale.

In this article, we will explore some of the warning signs of a bad company culture. When leaders recognize these red flags early, you can take steps to improve your workplace culture.

By understanding these red flags associated with troubled company cultures, leaders can make changes to create healthy working environments where employees feel valued and supported.

7 Red Flags of a Bad Company Culture

Leaders can’t fix problems if you don’t know they exist, but how do you know if you have a culture problem?

Every workplace is different, but there are some common potential red flags of company culture. If you notice one or more of these issues in your workplace, then it’s time to take a proactive approach to improve your company culture.

1) Lack of Connection Among Employees

The Problem: A lack of connection within an organization can create feelings of isolation and detachment among employees. Without connection, employees won’t build open and trusting relationships with each other, especially outside of their immediate teams. Connection is necessary for open and honest communication. Without it, employee engagement and productivity will suffer.

The Solution: To help build connection in your workplace, focus on creating opportunities for employees to interact. Encourage employees to get to know each other by hosting team retreats, team connection exercises, or lunch and learns. In addition, establish a safe and trusting work environment by encouraging open communication between team members.

It’s important that everyone feels comfortable speaking up and expressing their opinions. Leaders should also take the time to get to know their employees, listen to them, and offer feedback when appropriate.

“Connect” is the first of four culture habits we teach in both our free workshops and our paid trainings. If you want to learn more, we’ve written a detailed guide on the power of connection and how to improve connection in the workplace.

2) No Shared Values

The Problem: A lack of shared values can be a problem in two ways. First, if your company hasn’t established shared values, that’s an issue. Second, if your company has shared values, but managers aren’t following them, that’s also an issue.

Shared values are essential to a company’s success because they provide employees with a sense of direction and purpose. When everyone within an organization shares the same values, they are more likely to work towards common goals and objectives, resulting in increased productivity and overall success.

When your company doesn’t have stated values, or if your employees aren’t following them, your organization lacks purpose and direction.

The Solution: Establish and communicate your company’s values. Make sure that everyone in the organization understands these values.

Once again, we recommend focusing on connection in the workplace. Connection is critical for both establishing values and for getting everyone to follow values.

3) Teams Working in Silos

The Problem: Teams working in silos is another warning sign of a bad company culture. When teams focus only on their individual goals and do not collaborate or communicate with other groups, it can lead to a feeling of isolation and disconnection within the organization.

The Solution: Encourage cross-team collaboration by providing an opportunity for employees from different departments to come together and work on projects. This will help break down silos and promote a sense of camaraderie among coworkers.

4) Unmotivated Employees

The Problem: Employees do the bare minimum. They routinely show up late to work and leave early. In the workplace, they come off as bored and apathetic, or worse—they’re constantly negative.

Unmotivated employees are a big red flag of a bad company culture because so many details affect employee motivation.

The Solution: First, find out why your employees aren’t motivated.

Is there a lack of recognition in the workplace? Employees need to feel valued in order to be motivated to do their best work.

Do employees feel disconnected from the company’s purpose and results? When people don’t understand why their work matters, they stop caring about their work.

Are employees able to provide feedback and offer suggestions? Does leadership listen to team members? When workers aren’t able to influence results, they become disengaged.

Make sure to recognize your employees for their hard work. “Recognize Others” is a key leadership habit that we encourage all leaders to follow.

Continue to build connection in the workplace. Employees should know why their work matters. They should also be given the opportunity to freely share ideas and provide input on their work.

5) Employees Feel Like They Can’t Be Themselves

The Problem: If you don’t have an inclusive workplace, employees won’t feel like they can be their authentic selves. This hurts employee engagement, which can lead to high employee attrition.

The Solution: To create an inclusive workplace, company leaders should work on creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions without fear of judgement.

6) Employees Lack a Work-Life Balance

The Problem: Employees don’t take breaks during the day. They work through lunch. They routinely work outside of typical business hours. Even while on vacation, they respond to emails and call in to meetings. This kind of overworking can be detrimental to employee health and morale.

When employees routinely work outside expected hours, it’s a sign of one or more culture problems. First, employees could feel like they aren’t allowed to take breaks, or they might fear repercussions if they don’t work long hours. Second, employees could have too many responsibilities to handle, and they can only keep up by working long hours.

The Solution: Encourage your employees to take advantage of their paid time off (PTO) and to schedule regular breaks throughout the day. Make sure they understand that taking time for themselves is beneficial for both their physical and mental well-being, as well as their work performance.

If workloads appear to be too heavy, reevaluate priorities. What is critical, and what can be postponed or stopped? If most tasks are critical, can you bring on a new employee to redistribute the workload?

7) High Employee Turnover

The Problem: Employees keep quitting. High employee turnover can be a sign of a bad company culture, as employees may not feel valued or supported in their roles. This can lead to decreased morale and productivity within the organization.

The Solution: Take the time to understand why your employees are leaving by conducting exit interviews. Multiple cultural issues can lead to employees quitting. Taking the time to understand the root causes of employee turnover can help you identify areas for improvement.

Build a Thriving Culture

These are just some of the common red flags of a bad company culture. While we briefly describe each problem and offer a solution, remember that these problems are actually just symptoms of a larger problem:

Bad company culture.

Each individual solution can help, but a company culture overhaul is the best path forward if you truly want to improve your workplace.

Now that you know the red flags of a bad company culture, how do you feel about your company culture? What’s going well? What could be improved?

If you recognize a need for improvement, sign up for our free workshop, How to Build a Thriving Culture. In this 90-minute interactive workshop, you’ll learn the four habits that will transform the culture of your team and your workplace.

How to Build a Thriving Culture. In 90 minutes, learn 4 habits to create connection, unite teams, and solve problems.