Five Signs of a Toxic Culture

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Posted by: CEA's HR Advisor Team on Thursday, March 29, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

A corporate culture can be a significant factor that leads to ethics violations and, in its worst case, is the direct cause for a violation, said presenters at a webinar entitled, "How Corporate Culture Impacts Compliance – And What to Do About it!"

Warning Signs of a Toxic Culture:  

1. A sense of urgency or fear, used to justify toxic incentives;
2. Isolation: groups and teams isolated from headquarters, which can lead to authoritarian, competitive group leaders;
3. Organizational complexity and lack of clarity in roles, which leads to justification of conditions in which decisions are judged in isolation;
4. Success and impunity, in other words, overachievers getting a pass and leaders looking the other way; and
5. In-group language: sports and/or war metaphors or code words for unethical activities shift the blame from individual choice.
A "classic feature" of a problematic culture is employee loyalty rather than company loyalty. Other red flags include:

- Favoritism;
- Employees walking on egg shells in constant fear of discipline;
- Bad workplace behavior such as cliques and competitiveness;
- Lack of development/training;
- Information hoarding by managers;
- Lack of accountability for ethics violations;
- Overly aggressive goal-setting;
- "Pressure cooker" environment for setting goals;
- One-way communication from executives; and
- A culture of perfection, where there is an unwillingness to deliver bad news.

Source: CCH HR Answers Now. Full article

Improving culture.

Improving and maintaining corporate culture starts at the top.  A strong tone from the top includes well-drafted policies and procedures, investment in training, well-developed hiring practices, emphasis on staff development, and a commitment to investigating unethical behavior.

Utilize your CEA membership benefits and keep your company culture healthy!

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