5 warning signs of a poor work environment

By Robert Half on 14 March 2022
Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

Have you noticed that your staff are unhappy at work lately? Or have you seen an increase in staff turnover?

It’s all too easy to go about your daily business and overlook your corporate culture. However, it’s important to look closely at your business, to ensure that you see the kind of culture that both you and your employees would be proud of.

As you reflect on your work culture, here are some key signs to look out for that could indicate your office might have a poor work environment that needs to be addressed.

How to spot signs of a poor work environment

If you get your company culture right, it can mean having happy, loyal employees who produce their very best work.

Unhappy and overworked employees can be stressed, less productive and make more mistakes. They can also feel unappreciated and are more likely to look for employment elsewhere.

Related: 4 tips for conducting a performance appraisal of your staff

So how do you know if you have a poor work environment in your company? Here are five important signs to look out for:

1. You rely on perks to keep staff happy

It can be easy to jump to the conclusion that because you have TV screens on every wall, a foosball table and a fully stocked kitchen with free food and drink, your work culture is great.

However, there’s far more to creating a positive company culture than just providing employee perks.

Action: Take a close look at whether the perks you offer your staff are adding any benefit to their work day. Consider asking your staff, via a survey or open discussion, what really motivates them. You could then change your benefits package accordingly.

Whilst you may have assumed that buying beanbags for staff to sit on was important, you may discover that supporting corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives or having greater job flexibility is more important to them.

2. Office cliques have formed

Cliques in the office environment can be extremely toxic. These groups of people can often leave others feeling isolated.

They may also spread negativity, gossip and lead people to undermine company culture.

Action: Try to shut down cliques as soon as possible through fostering a work culture that is collective. Consider organising outdoor group lunches or arrange team building exercises.

This can help split up cliques, encourage greater team engagement and can help form more positive, supportive working relationships. You could also arrange group discussions about promoting a happy working environment.

Related: Why is employee engagement so important?

3. You lack strong leadership

If you notice a high level of employee turnover, or targets being regularly missed, there could be a lack of strong leadership skills in your business.

Strong leadership is necessary to provide a clear sense of direction and accountability. It also ensures that the rest of the workforce feel inspired, motivated and understand where the company is heading.

Action: Avoid a poor work culture by ensuring employees are provided with a clear set of goals to work towards. A strong leader should review and amend these regularly, as well as discuss them with each member of the team.

This ensures that employees constantly have a clear goal to work towards and they understand how their efforts support the wider business.

4. There’s a lack of respect

When managers or employees show a lack of respect for each other, this can be extremely damaging to the business.

Not only can it breed hostility, but it can also promote demotivation.

Related: The benefits of good staff morale

Action: Listen carefully to any employee or manager that approaches you with concerns about interpersonal relationships in the workplace. Consider whether employees have received proper communication training.

Invest in ensuring you have good staff in place that understand the company goals, culture and values.

5. You don’t offer employees flexibility

Have you created a poor work environment whereby employees feel they’re tied to their desk from morning to night?

New employees will rapidly follow suit and before long, you will have an office full of burnt out, and very unhappy workers.

Action: Review your working practices:

  • Can you offer flexi-time to employees, to help fit around their personal commitments?
  • Could remote working become an option?
  • Do you have a designated area for staff to eat their lunch or to take a break?
  • Can you encourage walking meetings, so staff can get outside in the fresh air while working?

By being flexible you can ensure that your staff achieve a good work-life balance which will in turn, boost their happiness at work.

Related: How to motivate staff, and why it matters

Ensuring that you fix any signs of bad work culture will help ensure you have happy employees that will work hard to help your business succeed.

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