Toxic work culture is killing vibrant brands and top talents

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If micro-management thrives and there is no trust in your organisation, then you are looking down the barrel of a toxic work culture.

Toxic work culture has totally engulfed most work places especially in the mid-class countries where employers view employees as destitute beings. Employment is considered as a favour rather than an exchange venture hence killing employees desire to exploit their potentials towards building of an organisations brand.


In a toxic culture, new ideas can’t thrive, people can’t be honest, bullying unfortunately occurs, leaders are given power that can go to their heads and fuel their egos, and an eerie feeling occurs at your company’s town hall/all hands when leaders ask for questions.

High performers, talented employees and even the loyal ones quit toxic work cultures. Most of them won’t hesitate to explore new opportunities selling the dream that the grass is greener. At the end of the day they have nothing to lose.


Top performers know what they are bringing on the table and are also smart enough to realise that if they can perform well in a toxic work culture, they can thrive in a Culture First company that looks after its employees.

Here is how a toxic work culture looks like

The numbers of hours you work matter

Judging people by when they start work and how late they work is irrelevant. We all know that the number of hours we work has nothing to do with output.

You can be at your desk for 9-hours straight and be doing nothing other than surfing the web and complaining to your pals about the company you work for.

Culture First companies understand that output produces results and that on some days you will be productive, and on other days you may have suffered the loss of a loved one or be feeling unwell. Regardless, all that is taken into account is results.

Entrepreneurship is given a dirty look

Toxic work cultures hate entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs because they are scared to death that they are going to leave and steal their ideas.

Thriving work cultures take people that have experience owning a business and utilize them like their secret weapon. They promote entrepreneurship because they want people to feel as though it is their business and they can make decisions.

Working from home is seen as lazy

Management does not allow people to work from home because they want to watch them. Even during weekends the company insists on employees going to the office. To them working from home is considered unproductive.

Management Receives preferential treatment

Leaders are referred to as management and the front line staff are told that the company is cutting costs.

Meanwhile, the leaders are having deliciously catered for meals off silver plates, while the front line employees who earn peanuts are left to salivate.

In a non-toxic culture, management and staff are one and people are accountable. Sentences like “Management needs to do…” are not relevant because staff can make decisions and the two sides of the business are one.

Shaming low performances

People who are under-performing are called all sorts of nasty names and treated unfairly. They are seen as stupid or not good at their work. Shaming people won’t make them perform better; it will make them hate the leadership team and the company even more.

The appreciation that comes from being helped rather than shamed converts into long-term loyalty that rebuilds careers, and becomes the basis of a thriving culture.

Forcing staff to write reviews to cover up the toxicity

In a toxic work environment, the management forces the staff to write fluffy reviews to cover up the toxicity the bad ones.

You can’t hide toxicity for long it will eventual erupt, the best solution to change how your company treats its employees.

Work Values are rarely spoken of

A toxic work environment rarely speaks of the values which are written on their websites and painted everywhere.

The so called management, overlook the values and implement their own local arrangements that fits them.

In established work places, you can’t even be hired if you do not demonstrate highest forms of work values.

A rotating door policy

When people decide to leave or mention they are thinking of leaving, they are talked about as traitors.

Having people leave regularly is normal and acceptable in toxic work environments. There are no exit interviews or questions around why a particular leader has had so many people leave in a short space of time.

Each time, the excuse is “Johnny was crap, so it’s a good thing he is leaving.”

When you scour the company’s staff on LinkedIn, you see that staff don’t last long at the company.

Fixing the toxic work culture

If you want to find out if you’re nursing a toxic work culture,use one of the many employee engagement products to find out for yourself.

Tell the people in your company that you are going to be surveying them every three months and they can say whatever they want because it’s completely anonymous. After the first survey, watch the comments and feedback pour in. Keep encouraging your people to say what they think.

You will find out if the employees are happy working for your organization or it is just a forced relationship.

But, a toxic work culture can be fixed. Identify the problems of your company’s culture, own them, and then become obsessed with asking your people how you can change them. Then, implement the changes.

Fight toxic work cultures by making your company transform into being Culture First. It starts with people.

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