How to give negative workplace culture the flick!

- February 20, 2023 3 MIN READ


A negative workplace culture can be one of the biggest, and most challenging, issues businesses face today. This is further amplified by the recent increase in redundancies globally, the severe talent shortages that put pressure on existing teams to do more with less, and workplaces that are still coming to terms with the aftermath of COVID, writes Rudy Crous, co-founder and CEO,  Compono.

Building an effective work culture is more challenging than ever with the emergence of concepts such as ‘quiet quitting’ and ‘rage applying’ where employees react to feeling undervalued in their workplaces.

However, it would be a mistake to think the recent focus on work culture is a new phenomenon. Workplace culture is something businesses have struggled with for decades, with the consequences of a negative culture ranging from unproductive and unhappy workplaces to catastrophic events. BP’s corporate culture was recognised for playing a key role in the disastrous Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, while a lack of safety culture was identified as a key contributor to Chernobyl’s nuclear power plant explosion. And the list goes on …

Even on a smaller scale, the consequences of a negative company culture can be devastating. And in 2023, businesses are faced with the reality that a poor workplace culture will negatively impact business performance, and disgruntled employees may share their frustrations with the world on social media. With productivity and reputation at risk, a negative workplace culture is something businesses can’t afford to ignore.

Work team in hard hats and hi-vis clapping and cheering

How to benchmark culture

We all know company culture is important – that’s nothing new. But despite the widespread knowledge about the importance of culture, many businesses still struggle to adequately define what their culture is, let alone measure it, create it, and evolve it.

Before a company can improve its culture, it needs to know where it stands. Every business should be able to identify ‘who’ the company is, its qualities, and the kinds of people it attracts. Are they innovators or risk-averse? Do they work collectively or individually? Are they cooperative or competitive?

Culture assessments must be carried out to provide businesses with useful, tangible data that can be used as a benchmark for improving performance, getting hiring right, and identifying initiatives to drive a more positive culture. Without fully understanding the makeup of a company and its people, it’s impossible to make any real, measurable improvements.

Greater than the sum of its parts

Getting workplace culture right is more than just having a few ping-pong tables in the office or providing free lunches every Monday. It’s about carefully and deliberately hiring the right talent and understanding what it means to build teams that work well together. Ultimately, it’s about knowing your company’s ‘personality’ and its main characteristics that either help or hinder your business from achieving its objectives.

Bridging the gap between your company’s current and desired personality characteristics can be a delicate process of change and evolution to get right – and one that’s almost impossible to do on ‘gut feel’ alone.

As the world embraces new ways of working, with disparate teams of hybrid and fully remote workers logging in from different countries and time zones, the ability to create teams of people who work well together has never been more important. As HR technologies continue to improve, people leaders will be able to better monitor their teams, keeping an eye on burnout, the impacts of remote working and getting a better sense of how employees are working together. And by doing so, they will be able to catch any culture issues before they spiral out of control.

Recognition of the role culture plays in shaping an organisation’s overall success is growing, but there is still a long way to go. By better understanding your people and how they work, you and your business will be better able to attract and retain the right talent. And by doing so, you can create a company culture that excels.

Want more? Get our newsletter delivered straight to your inbox! Follow Kochie’s Business Builders on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Now read this:

Culture is the most underrated business growth tactic of all time. But most companies get it wrong.

KBB Sales and Marketing Workshop