Posted by Nisha Amin on Aug 15, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Has Your Company Culture Gone All Wrong?

Negative Workplace Culture

Identifying and dealing with toxic corporate culture

Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires.1

Given the nature of how corporate culture emerges, organizations can easily find themselves stuck in a toxic environment. Think about your current workplace or one that you’ve worked in before. If you were dealing with rumors, negative reinforcement, punishment versus praise, work to rule mentality and never experienced a work social event, chances are you were part of a negative corporate culture.

Identifying and dealing it is not always easy but a critical step to ensuring the future success of the business.

Here are five ways to identify if your corporate culture has gone toxic.


This work environment is easy to detect. Look for employees that have limited positive interaction, chatter or laughing. You can basically feel the tension as you walk into the office and no one is interested in addressing or fixing the problem. Tension can be caused by several factors but things like a lack of communication across the company or the allowance of rumors or hearsay to flourish are also big contributors to workplace tension.


The leadership style of any organization is a huge contributor to the overall culture. If managers are quick to take praise for the team doing well but plays the blame game when they fall short, employees will follow the same behaviour. Are leaders motivating or discouraging? Are employees micromanaged and monitored, constantly worried about being reprimanded? Do employees feel like their bosses don’t trust them to do their jobs, forcing them to always feel like they have to convince leaders rather than be mentored to do better? These are all typical behaviours in a toxic workplace environment. 


Organizations that have like-minded individuals on board, working towards a common goal typically have a positive environment. A toxic workplace can develop when employees, management and leaders lack the commitment towards reaching these organizational goals.


When there are uncommon values across the organization, things can start to go wrong very quickly. Consider a manager that values time management and an employee who is consistently behind with deliverables but gets the job done. Because priorities for the two are different and not aligned with what is important to the overall company, conflict is very likely. Finding the right set of employees and leaders for the organization means also ensuring that every new hire shares similar values in their work-style and ethics. Those that are already part of the company need to also remember what shared values are of importance.


Seems like a no brainer but there are many toxic workplace environments that lack common respect for the company and colleagues. Respect can become an issue when someone is seen an incompetent at their role or if there are simply ignorant individuals within the organization.  Lack of respect can flow in any direction from co worker to co worker, leaders to employees or employees to management

What kind of corporate culture does your organization have?

Download this free Organizational Culture Assessment worksheet from TrainingFolks. Taking the time to answer these key questions will provide you and your team with a detailed description of what makes up your organization's culture.


Day to day operations can easily sidetrack any action, even if the company is in dire need. It may be assumed that employees should look past the negativity and simply get the job done. The thing is, productivity isn’t the only thing that is impacted by poor culture. The cost of fostering a destructive corporate culture actually trickles through all facets of the business 

Companies can spend millions in trying to replace lost talent, implement the latest technology and even train employees until they’re blue in the face, however, if all of these things are happening within a toxic workplace environment they’re bound to fail. 

So how can companies turn corporate culture around?

Consider implementing some or all the following depending on the state of your current corporate culture:

Addressing a toxic culture requires buy-in from top down. This means that leadership needs to accept that there is a need for change-easier said than done. Only once the people leading the company make necessary changes can they expect the rest of the company to follow. 

Changing corporate culture will take time and affects every single person in the company. Clearly defining your culture will also enable it to evolve positively into the future as new hires are added to the company. 

Corporate culture may not be a line item on your annual budget, but it could be the most important thing to ensuring the success of your business.



Topics: corporate culture, corporate training services, negative toxic culture

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