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Positivity is a huge part of building a successful company, and given the importance of company culture, you want to keep your eyes on the multitude of ways that office culture can be improved.

And often, despite our best intentions and all the positive vibes in the universe, the reality of a modern workplace means we are often faced with situations where snap judgments and poor word choice can lead to hurt feelings, lowered productivity and rapidly declining morale among your staff.

If you are noticing that more of your team members seem more down than usual, have seen a spike in exit numbers from particular teams or are just curious what the most typical threats to harmonious workplace culture might be, today’s post is loaded with information that can help. From bad attitudes to poor policies, today we are going to lay out 20 of the biggest offenders in the war on your workplace culture.

1. Big ego

While there is something to be said for self confidence and pride, having a manager with a bloated ego is no fun for anyone. The big ego is an enemy to your workplace culture because it flies in the face of the collaborative, team-based environment you are trying to establish – all “me” and no “we” makes it frightfully difficult for people to have a say in the scope of projects, and lack of acknowledgement for the contributions of others can make it harder still to feel satisfied with a job well done.

Talking to people about using more inclusive language, encouraging those who shy away to take the limelight and giving equal responsibility (and credit) to all members of a team are all great ways to keep big egos in check.

2. Mega micromanaging

Management styles may differ from person to person within an organization but one thing that workplace studies show consistently is that employees do not like to be watched every single step of the way. Part of the beauty of a supportive workplace culture is that people are allowed to think, experiment and fail.

Yes, you read that right, it is important for people to fail in order to grow and learn – making them more competent employees capable of doing even better work in the future. Actively encourage managerial staff to take a wider view of the scope of projects, allowing teams and individuals the latitude to meet targets in their own way – the results can be tremendous.

3. Eliminating perks

One of the easy targets during any cost-cutting cycle is the selection of perks and benefits employees receive. And though having a great office coffee setup, on-site car wash teams and Kegerator Thursdays may be an expense that is vital to any flourishing company culture that you carefully consider taking away workplace perks that already exist. Perks are a quiet way of telling your teams you care for their wellbeing and want them to enjoy their time at work.

4. Pointless bureaucracy

The joke about TPS reports exists because hundreds of thousands of people in businesses across the country are trapped by pointless bureaucracy in the workplace. Eliminating menial steps in your office bureaucracy shows staff that you trust they are doing their jobs correctly, without step-by-step hand holding – that trust plays a vital role in a great company culture.

5. Disengaged employees

When your employees cross the threshold of your firm in the morning, zoom to their desk and work for a few hours and then zip straight to lunch without interacting, you should not be impressed. Employees need to interact with one another, and their office environment, in order to feed your workplace culture.

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6. Calling employees out

Knowing who makes a mistake is one thing; but making a point of saying, “Dave, this is all your fault!” from across the studio helps no one. When you single out a person they automatically feel the need to defend themselves, their colleagues may feel attacked as well and the morale of the team in question will drop like a brick through a glass coffee table.

It is far better for everyone to hold a more intimate triage meeting where team members can discuss and take responsibility for what went wrong without feeling threatened.

7. Dishonesty

There is something particularly awkward about people who lie in the workplace. Whether it is a little lie, like a pepperoni-laced “I don’t know who ate your lunch,” or a more systemic “no layoffs this spring” from a manager who knows the opposite to be true, dishonesty bubbles away and erodes trust.

Trust plays a vital role in successful company cultures, and should be at the core of relationship building efforts, but only really works when the whole management structure walks the honesty walk.

8. Lack of transparency

Similar to dishonesty, a lack of transparency can have dire consequences for an otherwise flourishing office culture. Meetings behind closed doors lead to whispers in the hallway and before you know it, all kinds of crazy things are going on behind the scenes of your business.

9. Threatening job security

The core of your relationship with your employees is the fact that they rely on you to keep their lights on – which means their trust in you is paramount. Making threats that jeopardize a person’s ability to provide for their family, whether in the heat or not, is going to leave them wondering whether they truly have a future with your firm. A company culture can not grow where people feel insecure.

10. “Your paycheck should be thanks enough”

People who work for the sole purpose of getting paid are less likely to engage in their workplace and unlikely to report high job satisfaction. Employees who receive training, a supportive benefits structure, a welcoming environment and the perks that make an office feel more like home will work harder, engage more completely in your company’s mission and stick around through adversity.

11. No training availability

Great company culture means being able to attract and retain solid talent to your business. A lack of training and career development for professionals in many fields will keep the best of the best from joining your teams. It is especially important to provide training opportunities that you agreed on during the hiring process.

12. Poor on-boarding/off-boarding process

The importance of company culture means it is important to focus on your employees needs from day one. People joining the firm need to know what they are getting into – and your recruitment process should showcase that honestly.

Your firm should also develop a clear path for people joining the company to get all the information and equipment they need within a reasonable timeframe. The same holds true for people who are leaving the firm for whatever reason, providing a mechanism for them to hand in their equipment and give feedback regarding their experience in the office.

13. Everyone’s number one goal is to avoid getting yelled at

Successful workplace cultures need creativity and innovation to thrive, so when people adopt the “keep your head down and get it done” approach to working, company culture suffers.

Establish open communication not just between staff and their immediate management, but up and down the entire company, so that if people feel ill at ease with their situation they have a way to discuss that without fear of reprisals.

14. No one wants to hear your ideas

On a similar note, coming up with a new approach to an old problem is one of the best ways businesses can improve their margins or reach into new markets.

However, when employees are unable to share their ideas for innovation, or find their suggestions fall on deaf ears, the impetus for taking the time to think up a new solution or trying to improve processes can be lost. A great company culture provides avenues any employee can use to showcase their big ideas, and celebrate the truly great ones.

15. There are secrets everywhere

We have touched on this in a couple of ways already, but the importance of company culture is so integral to successful businesses that it is worth saying again: be open and honest.

If people feel like they are being talked about elsewhere, when workers fear that “the big wigs” are off in a boardroom debating their futures, nothing gets done well, and no one is truly happy. Fostering that feeling of open communication takes time and deliberate effort, but it pays dividends in the long run.

16. People come and go and no one cares

As your company grows, more and more people will join your teams – which means some of them may leave. If you incorporate a welcome meeting and a farewell-o-gram into your on and off-boarding procedures for employees, it can be great way of showing all employees that you value their time and effort on behalf of the firm.

The opportunity to celebrate new arrivals on a relatively regular basis gives you the chance to bring everyone together and truly welcome the new people to your teams as well as the wider organization. As people leave, their feedback about working at your company should be taken seriously and not just collected in a perfunctory fashion.

Looking at the reasons people leave can give you uncomfortable insights about the management team, or highlight areas where the importance of company culture to employees means they have not found what they were looking for with your firm. The biggest mistake is to let a revolving door effect permeate the atmosphere – if there is a steady stream of people leaving from a particular part of the firm, take action.

17. Your body rebels

Pushing through deadline after deadline can take a terrible toll on a person’s health. This is one place where the importance of company culture can work to protect everyone. A culture that encourages frequent breaks, hydration, snacking and healthy habits generally has happier, healthier staff. Hydration can make a huge difference to overall workplace health, as can taking frequent breaks from sitting at a desk.

Eliminating the symptoms of dehydration, blood sugar spikes and repetitive strains from the body makes it easier for people to recognize symptoms of oncoming illnesses so they can stay home and rest rather than plow ahead at work and share the germs. A string of illnesses racing through one team, then another will quickly show you the importance of company culture to the health and wellness of your employees, and the business as a whole.

18. There is only one way to do things (the boss’s way)

Business leaders find themselves in a unique position, able to lead and even dictate the terms for success and failure in their firm and beyond. When it comes to company culture, a boss needs to be able to consider alternative points of view – not only where goals and objectives are concerned, but particularly regarding the methodology for achieving those goals and objectives.

Finding success with “your method” is great, but having a truly successful company means knowing that you have a fleet of people with alternatives should “your way” become obsolete, be found slow or otherwise inefficient. A great business culture will encourage everyone to contribute to the way things are done, allowing for shared success.

19. Everyone in the office is a clone of one another

While there is plenty to be said for “hiring to your culture” that does not mean you should run around town hiring every bearded, sandal-wearing guy holding a smoothie because the team on third are all like that and they do a good job.

Far from it, by encouraging people to work together, interact as humans and learn from one another on both personal and professional levels, you are actively working to improve your company culture from the inside out – and a diverse population will definitely make your culture stronger.

20. You never hear from your manager – until you mess up

To be a great manager, you need to check in with people on your teams regularly. In a company where the only managerial contact happens after things have gone wrong, enthusiasm for taking on new challenges is bound to be restricted. Worse still, the manager who fails to return message after message asking for guidance and shows up after things have gone wrong offering only criticism of the choices made along the way.

The importance of company culture is such that management of people needs to be supported with adequate training and communication tools to avoid issues such as this. Making sure your team leads and their up-line managers are able to considerately keep tabs on the progress of projects is the cornerstone for success, particularly where relationship management within the firm is concerned.

These are just twenty ways that the importance of office culture, and what it stands for in your business, can have a big impact on your business’s successful future. Some changes you can make quickly and easily without external assistance. There are other points of great office culture, like getting the best office coffee service around, that the gurus here at Corporate Essentials are ideally situated to help your pursue.
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Joe Simonovich

Joe has a strong background in marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). The start to his career as a customer service representative has given him a unique foundation and different perspective on almost all business-related situations. Joe is now the Chief Growth Officer (and Director of Creating Awesomeness) at Corporate Essentials. He brings a unique skill set and a hands-on approach to any leadership role and believes that hustle is simply a way of life.