7 Signs Your Company is a Toxic Place to Work

Has Your Company Become Well Known As a Terrible Place to Work?

It’s Time to Face Some Ugly Truths

Maybe you don’t realize it. Or maybe you do and you just don’t care because you think you’re too busy. But somewhere along the line, it seems you created a monster.

Your company is now a terrible place to work. And that should alarm you, because it has far more dire consequences and repercussions than simply being unpleasant for you to hear. As with everything in life, it’s all about reputation. Unfortunately, you’ve now got a bad one. That means you’ll have a tougher time hiring qualified employees, retaining the workers you’ve already got, and staying profitable. And since the fish rots from the head down, pretty soon all eyes are going to be on you as the cause.

But the first step is recognizing you have a problem. So if you’re a small business owner or manager wondering why something smells rotten in your little business state, here are some surefire signs you’ve got some issues on which to work.

7. Lots of Turnover

Are you constantly filling open positions despite the fact you’re experiencing no growth? If so, you’ve got a turnover problem.

Your qualified employees are leaving. Heck, even your average workers are jumping ship. You figure it’s because the economy and job market is improving — and maybe it is a bit — but that’s not the reason they’re fleeing. The reason is because they’re unhappy. And that kind of discord starts with leadership.

If morale is suffering then employee engagement is likely down, as well as profitability. Turnover costs will start killing your business as you struggle to attract the kind of employees who can help right the ship. If you want to stem the tide, you need to start figuring out what your employees value and working with them to implement new and better policiies.

6. Bad News

They say any press is good press. I’m not so sure.

On one hand it’s great that your company is in the news. Name recognition and staying relevant are both very important things. But what has the news been? Layoffs? Not meeting revenue projections? Three straight quarters of declining profits? Lawsuits from former employees? The good news is you’ll certainly get your fair share of name recognition, but the bad news is you won’t want the kind of recognition that comes with it.

Meanwhile existing employees get nervous about all the bad press, and potential job candidates are scared away because they view taking a job there as a risk. Now your company is fully radioactive unless you do something to stop the bleeding.

5. Lack of Diversity

Does everyone at your company look the same? Act the same? Think the same? Then you probably have a diversity problem.

This starts with skin color, ethnicity, and sex. Sure you should seek out the most talented people for the job, but at the same time you need to recognize the importance of bringing different cultures into your company culture. However, it goes far beyond outward appearance. You also need diversity in thought and style. If you don’t have some out of the box thinkers or creative types to balance the more orthodox employees, then that has to change. Often times there isn’t just one right way to do something, and some diversity in all respects will pay off in the long run.

4. Unclear Company Culture

Quick, describe your company’s culture in one sentence. Could you come up with anything? Well you’re the boss, so if you can’t articulate it then you can’t expect your employees to do it.

Too many leaders don’t take this part of the business seriously, but they should. Clearly defining and maintaining your company’s culture is vital to building a successful business and leading your employees out of a toxic work environment. It should be the foundation of all that you do, and all planning should be done with it in mind. Your employees should know it by heart as well, so they understand what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Without a road map, it’s all too easy to get lost.

3. Failure to Innovate

If you’re not innovating, you’re falling behind.

It’s fine that you’ve identified a serviceable way of doing things that works for now. But while it’s unnecessary to reinvent the wheel, it’s a good idea to brainstorm new ideas and keep things fresh. In addition to allowing your employees some much needed creative freedom, innovation allows you to potentially streamline efficiencies and come up with new breakthroughs that could bust your company right out of the rut. It’s always better to be a company that embraces and supports new ideas, instead of relying on how it’s always been done.

2. Failure to See Employees as People

A company is only as good as its employees.

It’s fine to expect hard work and dedication from workers. After all, you’re paying them. But don’t forget, they’re human beings. They have families and hobbies and interests that extend beyond the cubicle walls. Many of them are going through illnesses, divorces, new babies, and even death. You don’t have to be best friends with all of your subordinates, but knowing a little bit about them will help you be a better boss. You should also be aware of societal trends such as more women than ever before entering the workforce and becoming breadwinners, as men seek out things like flexible scheduling to focus more on work/life balance.

1. Inefficiency

There is nothing more frustrating to motivated employees than crippling inefficiency.

Whatever you do, avoid “analysis paralysis.” It’s very disheartening to workers when they have an idea or a fix to a problem, but they have to send three emails to different supervisors to get clearance to schedule a meeting to form a committee that will then plan a meeting about when the best time is to hold meetings. I know Office Space was a fictional movie, but those nine different bosses and hearing about the TPS Reports as many times, well, that’s not so fictional in a lot of places. Try not to be so bound by red tape you discourage creativity, problem solving, and progress.

Business, Company