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Here are key indications that your work culture stinks

Every workplace culture needs a healthy amount of respect, accountability and cooperation. These traits will be even more important as the economy recovers from the pandemic.

3 min read


Here are key indications that your work culture stinks

Unsplash photo/SmartBrief illustration

This past year has been devastating to most businesses. A December 2020 report issued by the National Restaurant Association found that over 110,000 restaurants have closed permanently due to the pandemic.

As the economy slowly improves and vaccinations are more widespread, companies are talking about reopening. Small businesses are starting to rehire staff, and larger companies plan to bring employees back into the office.

The biggest issue facing leaders during this transition is that for many, the work culture in place pre-pandemic wasn’t very healthy. Simply “turning on the lights” again will not help your organization thrive in the months ahead.

This moment is the right time for leaders to pause and examine the quality of their work culture — before committing to “back to normal.”

Many leaders have not been charged with examining their work culture in the past. These three critically important culture characteristics can help leaders understand how their current work culture operates.

  1. Respect: To what degree do leaders and team members treat each other with respect in every interaction? How frequently do leaders and players thank others, validate others’ efforts, and recognize accomplishments in your workplace?
  2. Accountability: To what degree are leaders and team members held accountable for both results and respect? What consequences exist if players deliver expected results? Are they recognized for it? What if they model your values and behaviors daily? Are they validated for it? Are missed deadlines and disrespectful interactions proactively and promptly addressed — or not?
  3. Cooperation: To what degree do leaders and team members proactively support each other? Do they willingly ask how they can help their peers, then engage to get a job out the door or solve problems? Willingness is a great thing, but it means nothing if players don’t demonstrate cooperation daily.

Monitoring these characteristics — and honestly reflecting how frequently these positive practices and behaviors are demonstrated in your workplace — is an important way for leaders to learn whether their work culture is purposeful, positive, productive — or sucky, or somewhere in between.

If you find the health of your work culture lacking, it’s time to engage your senior leaders in culture refinement — by defining, aligning, and refining your desired work culture. Learn more at

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