10 signs your organizational culture is down in the dumps

It's easy to tank organizational culture. If you see one of these 10 things in your workplace, chances are things are going south fast

10 signs your organizational culture is down in the dumps

Business Strategy


by Laura Troyani

Wondering if your organizational culture has taken a turn for the worse? If you see any of the signs below, chances are you have a problem on your hands.

1. You can’t recruit fast enough to keep up with attrition. It’s one thing to be growing so quickly you can’t recruit quickly enough. It’s another if you’re constantly making up for the revolving door of employees leaving your organization. When attrition is that high, you know you have unhappy, frustrated, burnt out employees on your hands.

2. Your IT department has forgotten how many websites it’s blocked. A culture of trust means you don’t care that your employees are checking out Facebook, ESPN, or their favorite food blog at the office. You trust that they are adults who can manage their time and get their job done. The second you start blocking websites, you’re sending the opposite message.

3. You’re rabid about tracking sick days. This goes back to #2. If your employee is sick, do you really want her in the office? Limiting sick days means you expect an employee to control when a virus takes hold. Unless you’re offering extreme pathogen protection, this is absurd. Trust your employees to take the days they need to fully recuperate.

4. The words “That’s not my job” are heard often. If you have a culture of accountability and ownership, you’ll never hear those words. But if you build up walls and silos, it’s all too easy for employees to distance themselves from important tasks.

5. You can hear a pin drop at 5:01 PM. Engaged, energized employees don’t care that the 5PM bell has rung. They’ll take some extra time to finish up their tasks before they head out. If your office sounds like a graveyard by late afternoon, you have a culture of non-invested employees.

6. It’s always noisy at 2 AM. This is the opposite of #5. If you have a full house at 2 AM, people are overworked. It’s time you really considered hiring a few more people to your team before exhaustion takes hold.

7. People walk the other direction if they see The Boss coming. Does no one like the CEO or President? If employees are actively avoiding that dreaded individuals, you’re not just creating a culture of fear, you’re also minimizing the trust put in senior leaders.

8. Know one knows how the organization is performing. This is a major indicator that you have an opaque culture. If no one has shared financial performance or the traction that new products or services are receiving, your transparency is terrible.

9. You’re using Windows 98 as an operating system. No, this isn’t a jab at Microsoft. It’s a jab at outdated technology. More than one in four employees does not have the right tools to do their jobs. This is demoralizing and frustrating, and means nothing is being done as efficiently as it could be.

10. The phrase “Thank You” is rarely heard. That simple phrase goes a long way to showing recognition and appreciation for a job well done. If those words are barely used, it means your employees are feeling undervalued, and probably thinking about where they’d rather work instead.

If you see one, two, three, or more of these happening in your workplace, you know you have a culture problem. It’s time to start actively soliciting employee feedback to see where you have the most grievous issues (might we suggest online employee engagement surveys?). It isn’t until you start putting numbers to your challenges that you know how bad the situation is, and where your attention is most needed.

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