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Signs of a toxic work culture

09 June 2020 James Short
James Short

What is the most challenging part of your professional life? Is it the tasks? Is it the challenge of establishing proper communication with your team? If you are an entrepreneur, what is the most challenging part of running a business? Is it keeping up with the market? Staying competitive? Whether you are climbing the corporate ladder or trying to grow your business, those things I previously mentioned are just some of the things that come with the territory, writes James Short.

What is rarely mentioned when it comes to work challenges, yet are very common, are office dramas, disagreements between employees, hatred for the bosses etc. These things might seem personal in nature and you might think that they will just eventually resolve themselves. Yes, they MIGHT, but are you going to risk it? Are you willing to allow them to negatively affect your company?

A toxic culture is the biggest problem that is affecting both employees and business owners. The work itself can be done and most of it is easy. Changing a toxic work culture is an entirely different matter. It is already ingrained in the company and is very difficult to change yet not impossible. The first step is identifying if you have a toxic work culture. So, what are the signs?

Too formal


The very first thing that you will notice if an organisation has a toxic work culture is that everyone is too formal. No one smiles. No jokes being thrown around. No one talks unless it’s work-related. Interactions between employees are strictly formal with no hint of friendliness. If you are a person from the outside looking in, you will immediately notice the lack of personal interaction, but for employees who spent months and sometimes years in this work environment, it’s just the norm. Imagine looking for a job and seeing this type of work environment — would you be interested in joining their company? I wouldn’t.

Low morale

What happens when things are too formal? What would happen if no one at work has any reason to smile? The morale goes down. We sometimes underestimate the power of a smile. It’s a contagious act. Anytime we see someone smile, we just can’t help but smile ourselves. We feel good, we become energised. A simple smile is enough to boost your morale and lower stress — which might be all you need to finish the task at hand. A company with employees who rarely find a reason to smile should work on eliminating the toxic work culture.

James Short is a real estate consultant.

Signs of a toxic work culture
James Short reb
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