Signs of Toxic Work Culture and How to Fix It

For 46 percent of job seekers, work culture is an important factor when considering whether or not to join a specific team. Furthermore, 86 percent of job seekers say they will avoid a company that has a bad reputation or is known for having a toxic work culture.

Are you concerned about the culture at your company? Continue reading to learn more about work culture, the warning signs of toxic work culture, and how you can start making improvements today.

What Is Work Culture?

Work culture is an umbrella term. It describes all the behaviors and attitudes of both a business and its employees. It’s also known as company culture, organizational culture, and corporate culture.

Every workplace has a culture, whether its employees realize it or not. Culture is shown every day in the ways team members interact with each other, their values, the decisions they make, and the actions they take.

Why Does Work Culture Matter?

The culture at your company matters because it directly affects your employees, customers, and clients.

When people are part of a company with a positive culture, they tend to be more engaged, motivated, and productive. This sets them up to provide better service to their customers or clients and create higher-quality products.

Workplace culture impacts recruitment, too. If your company is known for providing an uplifting culture, you’ll have an easier time attracting talented and driven applicants. You’ll likely notice a decrease in employee turnover as well.

Warning Signs of Toxic Work Culture

The following are some of the most well-known warning signs of toxic work culture:

Minimal Enthusiasm

Do your employees constantly seem tired, bored, or unhappy while on the job? If so, that’s a bad sign.

Everyone has off days, of course. However, if there’s rarely — if ever — any enthusiasm among your team members, that may be a sign of toxic work culture at your company.

A lack of enthusiasm contributes to a negative vibe across the entire business. It may eventually start to hinder productivity and performance as well.

Constant Conflict

Does there seem to be a lot of tension and conflict between your team members? Are colleagues often at odds within your company?

Increased conflict can contribute to a hostile work environment. It creates unnecessary competition, prevents team members from trusting one another, and can also make it harder for them to collaborate and be productive.

Ongoing Gossip

Do you overhear a lot of gossip between employees at their desks or in the breakroom?

Ninety-six percent of employees admit to engaging in office gossip at some point, so this isn’t exactly a rare phenomenon. However, if you’ve noticed an uptick in the amount of gossip being passed around at your office, that may be a sign of other issues brewing beneath the surface.

It’s best to nip it in the bud as quickly as possible — before it has a chance to escalate into a more serious problem.   

Results Are Prioritized Over People

It doesn’t matter if you’re the head of a sales team, a marketing team, or a web development team. Every leader wants their employees to perform well and accomplish their goals.

At the end of the day, though, results and numbers should not take precedence over the people at your company.

When you only care about results and neglect the people who produce those results, you create a culture of fear.

Employees who are petrified by the idea of failure may be hesitant own up to their mistakes or admit that they’re struggling with a specific project or task. This can lead to small problems getting worse over time, which have serious implications for the entire company.

High Employee Turnover

Are you constantly having to put up ads saying that you have open positions at your company? Do you find yourself losing employees left and right?

A high rate of employee turnover is often a sign that something bad is happening behind the scenes. If you’ve noticed your employee turnover numbers starting to trend upward, it’s time to take a closer look at work culture and how it may be contributing to this problem. 

How to Improve Work Culture at Your Company

If you’ve noticed any of these warning signs among your team, it’s time to take action. Here are some steps you can take today to begin improving the work culture at your company:

Refresh Company Mission and Values

When was the last time you shared the company’s mission and values with your team? When was the last time you reviewed them yourself?

Taking some time to remember what the company is all about can help team members to work with more purpose. It also encourages them to be more intentional with their decisions, as they can ask themselves whether or not they’re acting in a way that aligns with the company’s values and objectives.

Offer More Recognition

Recognition is one of the most important drivers of employee engagement and satisfaction.

If your team members feel appreciated for their hard work and know that you see all that they’re doing to make sure the company succeeds, they’ll be more inclined to continue working hard and going the extra mile.

Make sure you’re giving plenty of shout-outs and recognition, both in group settings and in one-on-one meetings. 

Prioritize Transparency and Communication

Encourage team members to communicate with you regularly. Let them know they can be open and transparent with you during meetings, too.

Keep in mind, as well, that one of the best ways to build a more transparent company culture is to walk the walk.

In other words, don’t just tell people they can be open with you. Open up to them and be transparent about how the company is doing (whether your message is positive or negative). This will encourage your team to reciprocate.

Schedule More Team-Building Activities

If you don’t notice a lot of closeness among your team, or if you feel that employees don’t trust one another, consider scheduling more team-building activities. These can be remote team-building activities where everyone joins the same Zoom meeting, or they can be in-person events like a trivia night or a team dinner.

In either case, team-building events help to foster deeper connections and create more trust and closeness between team members.

Encourage Autonomy

Finally, take steps to encourage more autonomy among team members. Make sure you aren’t frequently breathing down people’s necks or micromanaging them.

Let people do their own thing and just check in every once in a while to make sure they’re on the right track or answer any questions they might have. This shows that you trust your employees and believe they can accomplish their goals.

Tools to Improve Work Culture

Investing in the right tools, including those listed below, can also help you to carry out the tasks listed above and combat signs of toxic work culture:

Team Compass

Team Compass is a robust team management software. It’s the perfect productivity toolkit that uses OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to help you improve company culture in the following ways:

  • Set and track team goals
  • Monitor progress
  • Generate weekly team reports to enhance meetings
  • Schedule one-on-one meetings and distribute pulse surveys to easily check in with your team and offer guidance as needed

Team Compass makes it easier than ever for you to connect with your employees, be transparent about project status, and easily provide feedback and recognition.


Asana is a work management platform that helps teams stay organized, track progress, and manage assignments with ease using boards, lists, and timelines. It can improve work culture by providing more transparency and creating an easy-to-use space for team leaders to offer feedback, provide notes, and check in with employees.


Slack is a popular chat tool that allows you and your team to easily stay in touch with one another. In addition to providing a platform for team conversations and one-on-one meetings, you can also use Slack for document sharing, scheduling, and other important tasks. 

Combat Toxic Work Culture Today

Positive work culture is essential to any employer, manager, or team leader who wants to set their company up for long-term success.

  • Positive work culture increases employee engagement, motivation, productivity, and retention.
  • Engaged, motivated, and productive employees provide better service and perform at a higher level.
  • Improving work culture also improves recruiting and makes your company more appealing to job seekers.
  • Common signs of toxic work culture include reduced enthusiasm, increased conflict, more focus on results than people, and increased employee turnover.
  • You can combat toxic work culture by offering a refresher on the company mission and values, offering more recognition, prioritizing transparency and communication, scheduling more team-building activities.
  • Investing in the right technology can also improve work culture and help you to create a better environment for your team members now and in the future.

Weekdone Team Compass is the perfect tool to help you accomplish all your company culture and team-building goals. Check it out for free today.