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  • Writer's pictureAndreea Popa

The Power of Company Culture in Our Lives (Thunder Talks #2)

Is company culture a topic that piques your interest? If yes, then welcome aboard! Our last series of Thunder Talks covered the power of company culture in our lives.

Company culture is the salt and pepper of every business's success. What you do and how you do it are the key factors of company culture. It’s about the feelings and perceptions employees have about the company they work for.

People in a company with a great culture - they communicate, collaborate, and have a great time working together

Suppose you have several job interviews and need to visit the office for discussions about your experience, culture, and benefits. In this scenario, you may encounter three different situations:

First, you walk into the company’s headquarters. The boss greets you, asks if you want a cup of coffee, and talks to you as if you've known each other for a lifetime. You ask for a certain salary, but they can’t offer that amount, so they make you a smaller offer.

Second, you arrive at the company's office, and an employee from the HR department welcomes you. They take you into a room and start discussing how the company works and logistics-related matters. You propose the salary, and they accept it.

Third, your future manager meets you, but doesn't talk too much, so you'll have to ask most of the questions. In the end, they make a better offer compared to the other interviews, but you'll have to work in a corporate environment.

How would you feel about these moments happening to you? Who would you choose? Would you opt for the one that offers the bigger salary package or the one that makes you feel like a part of the journey?

After you’ve decided which one works best for you, let’s dive into the essentials of company culture and how it can influence your life.

What Is Organizational Culture, and What Is Its Real Impact on Us?

In the heart of every company lies a vibrant force – its culture! It's the magnetic energy that unites us, propels us forward, and defines our unique identity. From the moment we step in, it infuses every interaction, every decision, and every step we take.

A company's culture is represented by the sum of values, beliefs, behaviors, and actions that characterize an organization as a unitary whole.

Moreover, organizational culture influences our entire psycho-emotional balance, from the need for stability, contribution, and relationship to our daily level of involvement, motivation, fulfillment, creativity, and performance. It can give us a sense of belonging or alienation, a supportive group or a demoralizing one, a relaxing or tense environment, and foster growth or stagnation.

Its importance has become more and more visible as people have become increasingly aware of its profound effects on our health. Precisely for this reason, it is essential to identify those parameters that indicate whether the place we are in offers us support from all points of view.

So, what are the essential ingredients for a thriving company culture?

What Are the Elements of a Healthy Company Culture?

A healthy company culture is not a mere buzzword or a fleeting trend but rather an integral aspect of an organization's DNA. It sets the tone for how employees interact with one another, how they engage with their work, and how they perceive their employer.

84% of employees who claim their company's culture is positive are also more likely to be engaged. (Moneyzine)

Elements of organizational culture
The elements of a healthy company culture

Let’s delve into the crucial elements that constitute a healthy company culture.

  • Clear vision, mission, and values - Vision, mission, and values lay the bedrock of every company, illuminating the path ahead with brilliance. They are essential for creating a strong organizational structure. If there is a clear direction, a deep sense of meaning, and a shared identity, they will guide all team decisions and create an inspiring work environment for all team members.

  • Open communication and trust - Creating a safe environment where team members can freely express their thoughts, ideas, and concerns is crucial for fostering collaboration and engagement.

  • Mental and emotional health - Acknowledging the interconnection between personal and professional aspects of an individual's life and promoting their overall well-being is vital for a healthy work environment.

  • Continuous personal and professional development - Investing in learning and growth processes will contribute to the long-term success of both the company and its employees.

  • Teamwork and collaboration - Emphasizing the power of collective efforts and working together as a team is important for achieving more significant accomplishments.

  • Individual recognition and encouragement of autonomy - Recognizing the value of each individual member, giving them the confidence they need to develop their autonomy, and familiarizing them with the term "ownership" builds a sense of responsibility.

  • Leadership and mentors - Demonstrating leadership through empathy, integrity, and fairness inspires others to become their own leaders and contributes to a positive company culture.

If a healthy environment is better for us, then why do people continue to stay in toxic culture?

Why Do People Stay in a Toxic Work Environment?

Across societies, various forms of toxic cultures persist, be it in workplaces, relationships, or even entire communities. These cultures often breed negative emotions, stifling growth, and undermining the foundations of well-being. Yet, they continue to attract and retain individuals who, despite being aware of the detrimental effects, seem hesitant to break free.

Why is it so hard to leave a toxic place?
5 reasons why people continue to stay in toxic company culture

But why though?

Denial, Lack of Awareness, Perception of False Growth

Denial, lack of awareness, and a perception of false growth often lead people to develop various coping strategies in response to an unhealthy environment. One such strategy involves dissociating themselves from the negative aspects and creating a narrative that enables them to remain where they are, despite the disadvantages.

Seth Godin wrote in his book, The Song of Significance, about the employees that adopt a 'safety mode' approach, doing the bare minimum to maintain their current job while hoping to find a better opportunity elsewhere. Alternatively, they may convince themselves that material possessions will bring them satisfaction, leading them to indulge in this situation.

It's hard to be productive and thrive at work when our emotional needs aren't being met.

Fear Represented by Financial, Failure, Change, Consequences Factors

These are some of the factors that contribute to why people continue to stay in toxic cultures, even after becoming aware of their detrimental effects. The thought of having to search for, find, and then adjust to a completely unfamiliar new job can become overwhelming due to these fears.

The fear of diving into the unknown job market can be paralyzing, keeping them trapped in a vortex of negativity.

But wait, there's more! Financial fears add fuel to this vicious cycle. Worries about stability and finding a comparable income hold you hostage in a toxic environment.

Fear of failure further shackles your ambitions. Uncertainty about excelling in a new role or meeting expectations grips you, preventing the leap to a healthier workplace.

Ah, change is another formidable factor that contributes to hesitancy! Our human psyche fears change, making the comfort of familiarity, no matter how toxic, strangely appealing.

Consequences are a legitimate concern for those contemplating leaving a toxic culture. They may worry about potential negative repercussions, such as backlash from their current employer or colleagues, tarnished professional relationships, or even difficulty finding another job due to tainted work history.

Yet, there's hope!

Personal Investment Perception and Habit

The emotional bond we form with our work can be incredibly strong, making change feel like an uphill battle. The loyalty and familiarity we've developed might seem like chains holding us back from seeking a brighter path.

Let's face it; you've invested your blood, sweat, and tears into your current position, and the thought of leaving can feel like turning your back on all the progress you've made.

The psychological toll of a toxic workplace can be heavy, leaving scars on our self-confidence and worth.

Lack of Support from Relatives and Existing Social Norms

In the context where such cultures are generally accepted and perceived as normality, both by society and by family or friends, any action contrary to these beliefs becomes almost unimaginable.

The absence of encouragement or understanding from family members can lead to feelings of isolation and alienation for those who wish to break away from these cultural norms.

When one's own support system is rooted in these deeply ingrained beliefs, it can be incredibly challenging to muster the courage to go against the grain and pursue a different path.

Absence of Respect, Confidence, and Self-Esteem

Lack of respect, confidence, and self-esteem can profoundly impact our lives and interactions with others. It forms the foundation of how we perceive ourselves and how we allow others to treat us.

When we lack respect for ourselves, we might find it challenging to assert our boundaries and stand up for what we believe in. Consequently, we may tolerate disrespectful behavior from others, inadvertently perpetuating a cycle of mistreatment.

Our relationship with others often reflects the relationship we have with ourselves. When you radiate self-respect, you become a force to be reckoned with. Asserting boundaries and standing up for your beliefs become second nature, and you break free from the chains of mistreatment.

Conversely, when we harbor self-doubt and self-criticism, we might find ourselves in unhealthy relationships where our needs are not adequately met.

If you’re wondering how to get out of an unhealthy work environment when you feel stuck, we’ve covered that part too.

What to Do When You Are Stuck in a Toxic Work Environment?

From maintaining your emotional resilience to exploring avenues for change, you need to equip yourself with the tools needed to navigate through challenging situations and ultimately liberate yourself from a work environment that no longer serves your best interests.

How do you escape a toxic work environment?
Escape unhealthy work environment

Though, what are some steps you can take to escape from an unhealthy work environment?

1. Acknowledging the environment you are in: You need to be aware of the reality you are in, understand your emotions, and be conscious of the motivations behind your decisions. Until you can see reality as it is, it will be impossible to make a change.

2. Reflecting on your core values: To increase your personal power, it is essential to identify the things that are important to you, the values that underlie your foundation and define you. Then, with the same sincerity, ask yourself if these values are respected by others and integrated into the current workplace culture. Decide to be the first to respect your values, so that later you can demand the same from others.

3. Seeking support and guidance from others: If the people close to you - family, friends - don't offer support in this regard, you need to look for other people who can provide the inspiration you need. And perhaps even various suggestions, opinions, and advice that will give you the impetus to search for and find another job.

4. Developing an exit strategy: The most important step we have to take is to craft a plan to get out of the current context. This includes identifying other job opportunities and improving your resume and professional profile. You can also consider talking to people in the industry you want to work in and investing in developing the necessary skills and qualities.

5. Creating a savings fund: To ease the fear and pressure that comes with the decision to leave your current job, it's wise if you haven't already done so, to start by saving some money and limiting your spending to the bare essentials as much as possible. The goal is to have a savings fund that will give you time to find a new position that suits your needs.

6. Focusing on your well-being: Last but not least, in addition to investing in our professional and personal development, through activities such as reading, taking classes, and talking to other people, it is essential to give our body and mind everything they need to perform at optimal parameters and give us that stability we need. Even when it seems that things are shaky on the outside. We will always find the balance inside if we take care to maintain it.

Changing Cultures, Changing Lives

People often find themselves trapped in toxic cultures, battling a labyrinth of psychological complexities. It takes a combination of bravery, self-awareness, and external support to escape such circumstances.

The power of company culture is a force to be reckoned with. It influences every aspect of our lives, with a huge impact on our beliefs, actions, and overall well-being.

Bear in mind that it’s crucial to look for companies whose cultures align with your needs and positively impact society.


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