Company culture is a complex amalgamation of all the attributes, behaviors and process that characterize a company. It is important for an organization to have appropriate culture to ensure overall productivity in the company.

Can a culture be toxic? Yes!

Company culture can be toxic and detrimental to the company’s growth and success. A toxic culture is a set of behaviors and characteristics in a workplace which causes a serious commotion in the life of the employees.

This term “toxic culture” has both short term and long-term impact on the company is very much visible on a company’s financials. Moreover, the employees in the company waste their energy which is a scarce resource in countering the toxic culture instead of addressing the problem at the grassroots.

Let’s have a quick look at some of the impacts of toxic culture

  1. Infection: A toxic culture spreads toxicity from one employee to another
  2. Financial loss: In one of the reports on “the culture economy”, it was discovered that a wrong culture is costing the economy £23.6 billion a year1
  3. Good employees leave: A negative vibe in the company makes employees disengaged. Out of frustration, some of them leave and it is never easy to hire good employees. Losing your A-talent players is very detrimental to your company’s growth
  4. Internal bickering and energy wastage: Employees waste time by diverting their energy at useless interactions and activities that do not help the company
  5. Bad reputation: When employees leave, they spread negative reports about the company and it is very difficult to correct a bad reputation in this digital age. Likewise, a bad company does not attract good employees

How do you identify a toxic culture?

Some employees’ works are actually not hard, but with the wrong culture, it is quite the opposite. The wrong culture in a company makes work look complex and bulky to the extent that it makes employees be afraid of performing their duties. This directly leads to a decrease in productivity. You, as a custodian of culture in your company, need to be careful of a toxic culture and eliminate it once you see the traits.

How do you then know that the culture of your company is wrong? Keep reading to find out!

Lack of Interaction

The first symptom of a toxic culture is the lack of interaction and communication among the employees. Once you notice that the employees are not operating in an environment that is friendly, this is a warning that a toxic culture is setting it. In a normal company environment, employees should communicate well, smile, and strengthen each other. However, it is usually the opposite in an organization where the wrong culture resides. The managers and the employees create two different parties that rarely interact. Even when they do, it is a one-way communication where the former gives the latter instructions.

Diverting attention to the power structure

To employees working in a toxic environment, power, title, and levels is their major concern. They divert their energy from focusing on the company’s vision and mission to pursuing status and titles. All they want to rise up the hierarchy level and boast of their status quo. They measure their success by their ranks and not by their accomplishment on the company’s project that contributes to the development of the organization.

The fear of passing their boundaries

A wrong culture creates fear in the mind of the employees. They are afraid of getting into trouble so they keep their heads low. A toxic culture does not allow its employees to create and implement new ideas. It does not welcome their employees’ opinion on matters. The employees in the fear of passing their boundaries keep quiet and follow only the laid down rules.

Inactive Human resource department

The human resource department oversees hiring and disposing of employees, upgrading and training employees, maintaining the relationship among employees, managers, and employers. A toxic culture renders the HR department useless. The human resource department might just be ineffective or pretend to go along with the flow.

Lack of recognition

Every employee wants to be recognized and appreciated for the work they do because they see it as a form of reward for their efforts. Recognition is a tool that can boost a company’s productivity when used properly. It is sad that it is quite the opposite in an environment when where toxic culture lies. A toxic culture says NO to the recognition of efforts and rewards for a good job done.

Lack of expression

Expression is important; we make use of it in our everyday social and business life. A toxic culture does not give room for the employees to express themselves. They do not speak if they have issues with their job description; they prefer to complain to outsides (friends and family) instead of settling it with their manager. This does not encourage progress and it leads to a waste of time, which is a scarce resource that should be maximized.

Lack of trust

Trust is a significant brick in the foundation of a company and employee ownership. It is essential for a healthy work environment. Without trust, it is impossible to build respect and collaboration. Employees start conversions with “Do not let anyone hear about this……” Blackmailing sets in, which pulls down a company. A toxic culture creates room for cliques, gossip, and rumors.

What do you do when you encounter toxic culture?

If your company exhibits some of these traits, I guess you seriously need to embark on a mission to change your company culture to the right one. Unless you resolve this, I am afraid your organization would not survive the competition out there.

This is a call to all business owners, beware! Do not be caught up in a toxic culture. It will literally kill your company. This is because a toxic work culture negatively affects your employee’s self-esteem, productivity, and creativity. As a CXO, you need to be able to detect the source of the toxic culture in order to come up with solutions to transform the same.

If you are experiencing trouble and need help, give a shout out at for a discussion.



Culturro helps companies to increase the lifetime value of employees. Culturro's product Agnya helps managers and stakeholders to quantify employee experience and its drivers. Moreover, Agnya also guides managers in real-time to create meaningful experiences for their teams. Know more at or 

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