Workplace Wellbeing – Culture Matters What does that mean?

Workplace Wellbeing – Culture Matters What does that mean?
Unlock Your Wellbeing Blog

Workplace Wellbeing – Culture Matters What does that mean?

Research shows that 57% of people say that their Mental Health was negatively affected by the Covid pandemic – either a new mental health issue was or a previous mental health issue returned. 

Workplaces are an important part of the causes and solutions

They are where most people spend the majority of their time. If employees are going to a workplace where they feel valued, where they will enjoy themselves and where they will feel psychologically safe, recovery will happen for the vast majority 

Getting this part right is important for EVERYONE – including employers

You may have heard of the “Great Resignation” – many people decided that spending time in a workplace where the culture is not aligned to their values or is toxic in some way, will no longer cut the mustard – they are voting with their feet and leaving – not always with a new job to go to – but to salvage their precious mental health from. Some workplaces are struggling to recruit good quality staff and the reputation of their workplace may be the problem. The existing way of working appears to many to be broken.

Workplaces need to change – but how and in what way?

Toxic Cultures are costing businesses dearly. Culture may be defended as “what/how you have always done” but that is NOT what employees – your most important resource – are willing to put up with anymore. A realisation has emerged from the pandemic that positive mental health is vital and NOT to be jeopardised by unhealthy workplace practices.

What do we mean by a Toxic Culture and how would you grade yours?

Which of these factors (identified by Forbes) have the biggest negative impact in your workplace?

  • Hustle Culture?
  • Blame Culture?
  • Clique Culture?
  • Authoritative Culture?
  • Fear Based Culture?

Hustle Cultureyou know when this is happening because it feels like the rat race/hamster wheel of your nightmares. Someone says jump – you say, “how high?” Someone says, “get this done by tomorrow morning” – you stay up all night if that is what it takes. Lunch breaks??? Don’t make me laugh.  Annual Leave – use it to catch up on work.

What’s getting sacrificed here? Your mental health – you are being chewed up and will, when you burnout, be spat out.  Yes – toxic at the extreme.  Private life? Family time? Friendships? Hobbies and interests? Forget them, hustle, hustle. The bottom line, the profit – it’s all that matters. You don’t.

Blame Cultureyou know you’re in such a workplace when it feels like every (wo)man for themselves.  If things go wrong, the toxic landslide of blame will be overwhelming – so don’t commit or admit to anything – it’s the safest way to survive.  Mistakes are not just bad but punishable in many ways from direct shaming to undermining you forever. Any mistake marks you out as a personal failure. To avoid being publicly humiliated for not coming up with the goods in the timescale you will shirk responsibility, try to shift timescales, blame anyone and everyone for holding you back and generally try to dodge the blame bombshell, hoping it lands somewhere else. Or try to cover up your mistakes rather than admitting them and learning from them. Colleagues? No! Others are viewed as competition rather than team members. Unhappily, this leads to gossip, backstabbing, undermining or taking credit for other people’s work.

Clique Cultureyou will recognise this when you join in with inappropriate comments, banter or remarks that are against your values. You do this because you feel unsafe – HR or managers will not be there to protect you if you complain. If you don’t join in you will be excluded and life will be made as unpleasant as possible for you. You will be isolated and possibly experience bullying too. Depending on what the dominant clique is, others will feel under threat and inferior. For example, if the male majority clique is sexist, women will struggle to be heard or part of any decision making and have to put up with demeaning and belittling language. They will feel ostracised and discriminated against.

Authoritative CultureYou will know you are here when you see that power and control are held by the “Boss”.  An authoritative culture is filled with favouritism, nepotism and “yes” people – it’s the only way to survive. No transparency about anything, the Boss plays everything close to his/her chest. If you disagree with something your opinions will NOT be valued. You will be labelled as a troublemaker and forget any thoughts of promotion – troublemakers are NOT team players and will be ostracised.  Decisions will be made and only communicated if they HAVE to be – employees will rarely have any sense of what is going on. Changes will often be presented as a “fait accompli” with no room for discussion, collaboration or opinions.

Fear Based Cultureyou will know you are here when you see the absolute lack of trust in, and fear of, management. Employees are fearful of repercussions if they make any mistake or complain about conditions – hence conditions can be basic at best. Employees will fear punishment so will cut corners, be silent about bullying and do all they can to appease their boss.  They will fear losing their job and will put up with a LOT to hang on to it, including poor workplace practices. They are at risk of, or already are, being intimidated, silenced and abused.

Recognise any of the above? Why would anyone want to work at such a place?

Not everyone has a choice – but don’t bank on this.  Plenty of other employers are out there with better conditions and cultures. People will, and are, leaving. This means increased costs for replacing people, which, depending on which industry you are in, could be extremely difficult if there is a skills shortage.

We have solutions 

 See our next Blog – “Investing in Workplace Wellbeing Initiatives”.  

Things CAN change for the better.


—– See our next Blog.—-

Leave your thought here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *