In an environment that is positive, encouraging, and empowering, employees are often able to thrive and grow. A positive cycle starts when good environmental factors lead to successful employees, who then create even better environmental factors for themselves and those around them. In the same way, a bad environment has the power to start a negative cycle, with detrimental effects on everyone. Morale and engagement suffer in a difficult setting, and employees are left feeling depleted and discouraged.
Not every work environment can or will be perfect, but there are specific factors that greatly contribute to a bad environment. It’s important to be aware of these factors and how they affect staff members. By being proactive toward cultivating more positive contributing factors, you have the power to turn a bad environment into a better one.
Imbalance Seems to Be a Theme
It’s often said that achieving various forms of balance in life leads to happiness. In the same regard, achieving balance at work can be a good step toward happiness in your job. When things seem to be out of balance in your work environment, as in your home environment, things can get difficult.
We constantly hear about achieving “work-life balance” and how important it is. But in many cases, this is easier said than done. While a perfect balance may not be attainable, allowing things to get completely out of whack can contribute to dissatisfaction and thus a bad work environment. If employees are overworked and their personal life suffers as a result, eventually their work-life will as well.
On top of that, if there is an imbalance or a perceived imbalance between duties and responsibilities and compensation and rewards, this may also lead to employees feeling undervalued and thus contribute to a bad environment. If people are working their tails off and are being underpaid for the work they’re doing and/or not recognized or rewarded for their achievements, the lack of being valued may well deter them from making the same efforts in the future.
Overall Low Morale
A lack of morale can show itself in countless different ways, and it can be caused by a lot of different things. It can be as obvious as just a persistent bad mood, or it can show itself as an employee’s lack of loyalty to the company. When employees are unhappy from being overworked or being badly treated, stress can build and this can contribute to dysfunctional relationships within the work setting.
If an employee feels the need to keep a low profile when coming in to work, this is a great big red flag. An employee should not be afraid to work with management or other team members. You don’t want anyone to feel like they are in a “get in-get out” setting.
It’s important to try to be aware of the moral level within your company. If things seem to be in a bad way, or heading in that direction, you need to try to get to the root of things. Even if things seem just a bit off, you’ll want to nip it in the bud and try to fix it before it becomes an issue. Listen to your employees. They will often let you know exactly what you need to do in order to fix things.
Leadership is Lacking
Leadership in an organization is so important, and it can be less than stellar in many different ways. Sometimes it is the level of immaturity new managers display once they are given their role. Some leaders turn into bullies who use threats or scare tactics to influence their employees. Sometimes leaders disappear, becoming absent when they are needed most. And sometimes it is a communication issue, when a manager doesn’t properly communicate with or set expectations for employees, leaving them in the dark.
Leadership needs to be present, supportive and involved. And the essence of a good leader is being a good communicator. Management workshops can go a long way towards rectifying these kinds of leadership lacks.
The Office is a Mess
The more you care about something, the more likely you are to take care of it. If people throughout your office treat it like a dump this could be an indicator of just how much they value it, or in this case, don’t value it.
When you see these telltale signs, it’s time to take action quickly. Unaddressed, these tendencies will only get worse. Hold an office cleanup day, with a goal of gathering as much material to recycle as possible. Make sure employees are made to feel part of the company’s overall goals and successes. You can start a positive cycle to counteract the negative spins, by addressing one factor at a time.
Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a global platform for complete candidate skills and job fit assessment. eSkill’s online skills testing is used by thousands of employers for pre-employment assessment and staff benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they're best at, and that they enjoy.