News for HR Professionals


Spring detox: cleaning up your corporate culture

March is Pet Poison Prevention Month, so now is the perfect opportunity to remind your employees to check their homes for toxic substances that could harm their four-legged friends. At the same time, it’s important to remember that not all poisons come in a bottle. Workplace cultures can be toxic too, eating away like acid at loyalty, motivation and self-esteem. And with a 2016 Gallup poll reporting that only 32 percent of U.S. employees are fully engaged—involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and their workplace—your primary focus should be on building a positive culture where workers can thrive.

That Bitter Taste

So how can you tell if your company's current culture is bad for employees' mental and emotional health? According to a recent article by Forbes, there are several things to look out for. An abundance of gossip, complaining and negativity are bad for morale and lead to high turnover, but never talking about problems isn't a positive sign either—it may mean that workers think their opinions don’t matter, or feel unsafe expressing them.

Employee contentment is another important measure of a culture's success. Satisfied employees are productive employees, according to multiple studies, and you may be surprised to learn that money is only one measure of satisfaction among many. In fact, when employees are engaged and thriving in at least four elements of well-being—encompassing purpose, social, community, physical and financial—they're 59 percent less likely to look for another job in the next 12 months. This is where the importance of a comprehensive benefits package becomes clear: When you support employees' happiness outside the workplace with options like wellness coverage for the whole family, including pets, their sense of well-being and contentment automatically increases

Toxic Talk

As with most workplace issues, communication—or the lack of it—is at the root of a bad corporate culture. Only 15 percent of employees say their companies are doing a very good job fostering communication, so odds are good that your communication plan could use some work. In particular, if the office grapevine is spreading more information than official company channels, or if management and employees live in different worlds and seldom interact, you most likely have a problem that needs addressing. How to resolve it? Consider following Fast Company's four steps for building open communication, and be sure it’s not a one-way channel—ask your employees for their feedback too. They can be a great source not only of insight into things that are going wrong, but of new ideas and additions, such as pet insurance, that could boost morale.

Deliver the Antidote

If you recognize the signs and suspect your company's culture may be a simmering witch’s brew, you're far from alone. In a 2015 study by Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, only 15 percent of executives said their culture was where it needed to be, while 94 percent believed that improving the culture would improve the company's value. The task can seem daunting, but don’t despair or give up—in the wise words of author and poet Maya Angelou, "All great achievements require time." Start the detox process now, and by the time next spring rolls around, you’ll have a corporate culture to be proud of.