How to Improve a Toxic Company Culture

Raffa Financial ServicesRaffa Financial Services on 06/11/2020

Company culture may be one of the most valuable and fragile aspects of a healthy business. Your culture dictates your employee experience, your ability to innovate, your mobility in times of uncertainty, and even your customer experience. Without a healthy company culture, your business will begin to slide backward, missing important deadlines, rolling out low quality work, and damaging your brand image and relationship to your community 

There are several common red flags to look for when monitoring the health of your company culture.  

  • A loss of multiple employees in a small amount of time 
  • Lack of accountability to deadlines and an inability to identify where/why projects were mishandled, flawed, or forgotten about 
  • Overall high turnover rates, low productivity rates, and low engagement 
  • Low input from specific groups and teams  

Whatever it is that tipped you off to realizing your company culture needs some TLC, make sure you spend time narrowing it down to its source. 

Identify the problem  

Whether it stems from tensions between departments based on miscommunications, a lack of accountability from leadership, a bad hire, or worse, a bad manager, it’s critical you understand precisely where the toxicity is coming from.  

Employee surveys can be valuable tools to identify the source of issues. But they can also be useless or even backfire if not used effectively. As a leadership team, ask yourselves a few questions before jumping in: 

  • Is it really possible to keep it anonymous? Even if the survey itself is anonymous, if your company is small, it might be easy to identify whose responses you’re reviewing. 
  • Are you asking the right questions? Questions such as “Would you recommend this company to a friend who’s looking for work?” will give you minimal information other than general feelings employees have about the organization. Direct questions such as, “Do you trust your manager?” or “Do you feel safe sharing your ideas?” are going to get the intel you need to hear. 
  • Are you ready to follow through once you get a clear picture of the problem? If so, are you willing to communicate that intention to your employees?  

One big mistake made with employee surveys is not being ready to make changes after receiving responses. If you want to send out a survey, but aren’t prepared to use the information to make positive changes within your company, then don’t send it. Asking your employees how they’re doing and then not addressing their frustrations will only result in a loss of trust, further damaging your culture.   

Create a strategy 

Whether your company culture is being damaged by a person, flawed processes, inadequate benefits, or a smelly conference room, you can’t fix the problem by merely dealing with the source.  

Your company culture is a relationship. Like any relationship that’s been struggling, there are ripple effects that can impact many parts of it. So approaching the problem with a one-and-done solution isn’t going to fix the issues plaguing a broken culture.  

Approach the problem in a multifaceted way to restore a healthier culture. Think about how you can rebuild the trust, confidence, and communication lost during this time.  

  • Increase communication. 
  • Give your employees a chance to hang out outside of work: host a happy hour or game day or lunch.  
  • Improve employee feedback channels and encourage employees to use them. 
  • Improve response strategies moving forward. Get input from your team—find out how they would like to see change implemented.   

Don’t give up 

Healing a toxic company culture can feel incredibly daunting. Sometimes even harrowing. You may have to let some employees go. You may have to change ingrained processes. It’s seldom an easy fix. But taking accountability for it is the first step towards nurturing a healthier culture. 

Taking accountability for a poor culture can be hard. It can feel like a real blow to your confidence to take responsibility for it. You may find yourself wanting to blame the source of the problem, but doing so won’t help you gain back control. By taking on the accountability, you’re openly acknowledging the issues and paving a path towards resolution.   

Just like people, companies can change. We can learn new habits and do away with things that aren’t serving us. It takes time, effort, accountability, and, most of all, it takes a belief in yourself and your company.  


If you’re looking for a corporate employee benefits consultant who is a true business partner, Raffa is here for you. We help clients identify organizational challenges, create big picture strategies, and put customized solutions in place. From tailored benefit programs to custom retirement plans to risk management services, we’ve got you covered.   


Photo by Shutter B

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