The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Company Culture

An unhappy work situation, as we know, can affect our whole life, leaving us unfulfilled and just straight up down in the dumps. But did you know that the culture of the company you are working for has more to do with your work life satisfaction than you are probably aware of?

A healthy company culture leads to more productive, motivated, energized, and satisfied employees, while an unhealthy company culture can leave you stressed, exhausted, and overwhelmed. So, how do you know if the company you’re working for has a healthy culture? Here are four ways to tell:

Are you clear on the goal you’re working towards?

In a healthy company culture, there is a clear goal for the company which everyone is aware of; you are all aligned for the same purpose. When the goal is clear for everyone, it also means you’re working alongside others who share the same values. This helps strengthen your working relationships, making for not only a more tightly knit culture, but also a more enjoyable working environment. Additionally, when you are clear on your goal, it allows you to be more effective in producing results.

In an unhealthy culture, however, only some people are aware of the goal, and out of those who are, some may not even understand it. Being unclear on the higher purpose or goal causes confusion, and may result in the inefficiency of producing desired results. This can lead to frustration and angst…not fun! You can’t properly do your job if you don’t know what you’re supposed to be working towards, can you?

Is there a guiding set of rules?

Let’s look at it like this. If you were put in the middle of some kind of court that had two baskets on either end of it, and someone came and handed you a ball and told you to play the game, but you had NO idea what the game was, what the rules were, or how to play it, do you think you could possibly win? Of course not. The same is true with companies. In a healthy company culture, a clear set of values have been laid out –and clearly communicated – as guidelines as how to behave, interact, and approach work in that company. It is much easier for you to succeed because you have the rules to the “game” you are playing.

When no core values have been established or communicated, or the guidelines and rules are fuzzy or constantly changing, it indicates an unhealthy company culture. With no rules, unclear rules, or rules that change, it makes it pretty difficult to succeed. And even if you do, the road to that success is paved with frustration and confusion, because you’re unclear how to ultimately win that game.

Are you being recognized for a job well done?

Supervisors in companies with a healthy culture recognize an employee for a job well done. This not only acts as fuel for the employee who has been recognized to keep up the good work, but can also motivate and inspire other employees in their work, knowing that what they do can, and hopefully will, be acknowledged. As we all know, a little recognition goes a long way!

In an unhealthy culture, not only do supervisors not acknowledge the job well done, but some may also take credit for their employee’s work. This contributes to lack of morale, as well as a feeling of separateness. Feeling unappreciated, as well as the lack of recognition, or worse – having someone else accept the recognition for your work – can lead to resentment. When we feel like this, it is hard to stay motivated, and certainly hard to feel good about going to work.


Do you feel unified or alone?

In a healthy company culture, there is a sense of unity among employees, who, as a team, are clearly working towards something bigger than themselves. This is positive on a few fronts. One is that, as research has shown time and again, we are social beings. We need other people around to be healthy and to thrive. Feeling a part of something contributes to this happiness and overall satisfaction with our lives. Additionally, when people come together to work towards the same goal, it greatly contributes to the likelihood of success in achieving it. And we have all experienced the gratification that comes from reaching a goal; it contributes to our overall happiness, well-being, and sense of fulfillment.

Employees that work in an unhealthy company culture, unfortunately, tend to feel a sense of division. The feel that they’re just working for themselves or that it is a competition, where everyone is against each other, rather than with each other. As such, using the same principle about people needing other people in order to have an overall sense of well-being, working in a company where you feel separate and alone can contribute to feelings of depression and isolation. It can also contribute to a lack of motivation or inspiration in doing your job, and result in lower performance results.

A healthy work environment makes you feel good about coming to work and better about your life in general. That is why it is important to work in a company with a culture that is not only healthy, but also compatible with you and your core values. If you are currently looking for a job, asking yourself these questions about companies you are considering working for can act as a sort of treasure map. Use these questions to guide you to a company whose culture is healthy and, therefore, a job that is more likely to bring you fulfillment.

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