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Top 3 Signs of a Toxic Company Culture

Top 3 Signs of a Toxic Company Culture

A study carried out by the talent management software provider Bridge Instructure revealed that over half of employees purposely partake in workplace politics in a bid to get ahead. With promotion in mind, 43% of employees even feigned interest in their “boss’s dumb story.” The results showed a workplace culture where unspoken expectations pressured employees to act in unproductive ways in the hopes of promotion.

What are Workplace Politics?

Workplace politics are the dynamics of power and advantage within a business or company. Bureaucratic structures are usually put in place with the best of intentions, but what happens when they become outdated or start to have a negative impact on company processes?

Factors that can lead to Distress in a Companies Culture

At Barometer, we carried out an in-depth analysis of existing employee reviews from Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work of 2020. Here are our findings as they apply to office politics, bureaucracy, and poor organization.

Workplace Politics

Frivolous promotion requirements, biased management, and inter-team rivalries were listed by employees as key contributors to workplace politics. In turn, this led to an overall diminished culture and an environment where “internal politics was the worst part of the job.” Office politics were noted in nine out of the ten companies analysed, and 65% of these mentions were negative. As a result, some employees were left feeling discouraged about their employment. One employee review read “There were also perceptions that office politics, not merit, lead to promotions causing otherwise productive employees to sour on the whole enterprise.”


A bureaucracy allows a business to create a set of rules and establish a protocol for decision making. These are typically made up of several layers of management. In our analysis, bureaucracy was found to interfere significantly with the day to day work of employees. Communicated in 7% of company reviews, bureaucracy was mentioned negatively 86% of the time. Employees noted “resistance to change,” “too much red tape,” and “slow progress” as barriers that prevented them from carrying out their duties.

Poor Organization

Chaotic team distribution, communication breakdowns and unclear direction from leadership are all attributes recognized by Barometer as poor organization within the workplace. Often, “organization growth” was reviewed as leading to “growing pains,” and as causing confusion within the workplace when not done correctly. Breakdowns in communication and criticism of leadership skills were mentioned in 6% of employee reviews. A “sense of friction” is what one employee described as the result of poor organization within their workplace.

Identifying the Problems and Deciding on Solutions

If you are wondering if these issues are affecting your company, then there are steps you can take to find out. Internal surveys can offer a lot a value and help identify any issues your staff are encountering that you may not be aware of. Keep in mind, employees are more willing to be honest when they are guaranteed anonymity. If you find there are issues present, then it might be time to review your processes. This can involve discouraging undesirable behavior and creating incentives for the results you are striving for. Performance reviews are another excellent opportunity to encourage change in an organization. For more information on our Barometer study, you can click here!

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Published by Éimear O’Reilly July 13, 2020
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