Navigating Workplace Waters: Combating a Toxic Company Culture with Compassion


Navigating Workplace Waters: Combating a Toxic Company Culture with Compassion

Workplace culture isn't merely a buzzword; it's the lifeblood of an organisation. The culture and atmosphere within a company can either nurture employees' growth, satisfaction, and overall wellbeing, or it can act as a silent but potent toxin eroding their happiness and productivity.

The Subtle Erosion: Quiet Quitting

In the shadowy corners of many workplaces, a quiet phenomenon unfolds—quiet quitting. It's the gradual, unspoken exit of employees who, though physically present, have mentally checked out. They may not actively voice their disengagement, but their lack of enthusiasm, motivation, and passion speaks volumes.

Quiet quitters often become disenchanted with a company's culture that fails to nourish their sense of purpose and growth. When their concerns and needs go unheard, they disengage emotionally from their work. Over time, this insidious phenomenon can lead to a workforce filled with employees who merely go through the motions, doing the minimum required to get by. This quiet erosion of morale and productivity can be challenging to detect but has a significant impact on a company's overall performance.

The Dark Cloud: Actively Disengaged Employees

‍Some employees don't merely go quietly into the night. Instead, they become actively disengaged—openly expressing their dissatisfaction and frustration. These employees may voice complaints, resist change, and display negative attitudes. Actively disengaged employees can become a dark cloud over the workplace, affecting the morale and motivation of their colleagues.

Actively disengaged employees not only reduce their own productivity but can also drag down the performance of those around them. Their negative energy and resistance to company goals can create a toxic atmosphere that stifles creativity, innovation, and collaboration.

The Loud Exit: Resignations and Turnover

When the strain of a poor company culture becomes unbearable, some employees choose the loud exit—resigning from their positions. This is the point at which the company culture has eroded their commitment to the extent that they are willing to walk away.

High turnover rates are often a clear indicator of a toxic workplace culture. The cost of replacing employees, both in terms of time and resources, can be exorbitant. Moreover, the loss of institutional knowledge and the disruption caused by frequent departures can severely impact a company's performance and stability.

The Domino Effect: Affecting Productivity and Performance

‍A poor company culture doesn't operate in isolation. It creates a ripple effect that permeates every aspect of an organisation. As quiet quitting, active disengagement, and loud quitting continue, the overall productivity and performance of the company begin to suffer.

Decreased Productivity: 

Engaged employees are more productive. When a significant portion of the workforce is disengaged or resigning, the productivity of the entire organisation takes a hit.

Reduced Innovation: 

Toxic cultures stifle creativity and innovation. Employees in such environments are less likely to share ideas or take risks, which hampers the company's ability to adapt and grow.

Higher Costs: 

Frequent turnover and disengagement increase recruitment and training costs. These costs eat into the company's bottom line.

Reputation Damage: 

A negative company culture can tarnish an organisation's reputation, making it difficult to attract top talent and retain loyal customers.

‍In essence, a poor company culture is not merely a minor inconvenience; it's a ticking time bomb that can silently undermine an organisation's health and success. Recognising the signs of quiet quitting, actively disengaged employees, and loud quitting is the first step toward addressing and rectifying these issues to foster a culture that supports employee wellbeing and drives organisational excellence.

How to Improve Your Company Culture

Alright, so we've covered the gloomy side of company culture. Now, let's talk solutions. It's not all doom and gloom; there's a way out.

It Starts with You: The Vibe Guardian

Ever heard of "vibe guardians"? That's you – the leaders. You set the tone. Your actions and decisions shape the company culture. So, here's the deal: to improve your company culture, you've got to lead the way.

Level 5 Leaders: Humble Ambition

According to Jim Collins (author of Good To Great), "It takes a very special kind of leader to bring a company from goodness to greatness." and he calls them 'Level 5 Leaders'. These folks aren't just highly capable; they possess two important qualities; humility and ambition.

These are leaders who are highly ambitious for the greater good. And because they're ambitious for a greater good, they feel no need to inflate their own egos. These are the type of people who, according to the research, make the best business leaders. 

If you look at these qualities in the context of compassion, we find that the cognitive and affective components of compassion - understanding people and empathising with people - tones down the excessive self-obsession that's in us, therefore creating the conditions for humility.

Creating a Culture of Compassion

The first compelling benefit of compassion is that it creates ambition for the greater good. The more your employees are invested in each other, the less they will want to let each other down. They work together as one unit - as is found in an ant colony. A single ant alone would struggle to survive, but operating as one - they have the ability to build sand dunes, lift objects over 5000 times their own weight and move more than 50 tonnes of dirt every year.

The second compelling benefit of compassion is that it creates an inspiring workforce. Employees mutually inspire each other towards greater good. This creates a vibrant, energetic community where people admire and respect each other, and so - this mutual inspiration promotes collaboration, initiative and creativity. That creates a highly effective company.

How to Cultivate Compassion

1. Create a culture of passionate concern for the greater good

So always think: how is your company and your job serving the greater good? Or, how can you further serve the greater good? This awareness of serving the greater good is very self-inspiring and it creates fertile ground for compassion to grow in.

2. Autonomy

If you already have a culture of compassion and idealism and you let your people roam free, they will do the right thing in the most compassionate way.

3. Focus on inner development and personal growth

Leadership training which places a lot of emphasis on the inner qualities, such as self-awareness, self-mastery, empathy and compassion, because leadership begins with character.

Learn From The Best: Google’s 7 Week Emotional Intelligence Training

Google's seven-week leadership training program is an Emotional Intelligence Curriculum for adults- which they jokingly call “Searching Inside Yourself” (get it? Google Search).

The program distils emotional intelligence into a set of practical and proven tools and skills that anyone can learn and develop.

It was developed by one of the earliest Google engineers, Chade-Meng Tan (Meng). As he explored the topic of personal growth, he ended up teaching the company’s employees how to apply mindfulness to increase their wellbeing in the office and beyond.

“Created in collaboration with a Zen master, a CEO, a Stanford University scientist, and Daniel Goleman (the guy who literally wrote the book on emotional intelligence), this program is grounded in science and expressed in a way that even a sceptical, compulsively pragmatic, engineering-oriented brain like Meng's can process.”

Search Inside Yourself unveils the art of effortlessly soothing your mind and rediscovering your innate happiness, nurturing self-awareness to bolster self-confidence, channelling empathy and compassion into remarkable leadership, and forging highly productive partnerships grounded in trust and open communication. In essence, it's your guide to cultivating inner joy while achieving professional success. As Meng puts it, "Some people buy books that teach them to be liked; others buy books that teach them to be successful. This book teaches you both. You are so lucky."


How Do You Learn Emotional Intelligence?

The answer is; you can’t. You can learn about EI, but you cannot learn EI.

In the same way as this analogy: You can learn about fitness and what you need to do at the gym in order to get fit or gain muscle. But, the only way to actually get fit and gain muscle is to exercise or… training.

The same goes for EI. So therefore, to acquire emotional skills requires training, just like to acquire muscles.

The question then is: What should we be training?

Training Emotional Intelligence in Three Easy Steps

Attention Training

Attention is the basis of all higher cognitive and emotional abilities. Therefore, any curriculum for training emotional intelligence has to begin with attention training. The idea here is to train attention to create a quality of mind that is calm and clear at the same time. And this creates the foundation for emotional intelligence.

Self-Knowledge & Self-Mastery

Using the supercharged attention from step one, we create a high-resolution perception into the cognitive and emotive processes. What does that mean? It means being able to observe our thought stream and the process of emotion with high clarity, objectivity and from a third-person perspective. And once you can do that, you create the kind of self-knowledge that enables self-mastery.

‍Create Useful Mental Habits

Imagine whenever you meet any other person, any time you meet a person, your habitual, instinctive first thought is, "I want you to be happy." Imagine you can do that. Having this habit - this mental habit - changes everything at work. Because this good-will is unconsciously picked up by other people, and it creates trust, and trust creates a lot of good working relationships. And this creates the conditions for compassion in the workplace.

‍So there you have it. We've told you what creates a toxic workplace, what it accumulates to and causes, how to improve it, how to cultivate compassion, how Google does it, and how to train emotional intelligence.

In a nutshell, company culture isn't just a buzzword; it's your organisation's lifeblood. It affects everything – from employee happiness to your bottom line. So, it's time to be the vibe guardian, the Level 5 leader, and the compassionate creator of a workplace where everyone thrives.

After all that reading, you deserve a cuppa. So, if you fancy a coffee and a catch up on how Vyou can support you on your quest to a compassionate, humble, ambitious, and thriving workplace, drop us a message or click the button below. 👇

Until next time... 🙋

A word from Vyou’s Vibe Guardian aka Founder, Jon Stanners.

Promoting a culture that values transparency, innovation, inclusivity, and constructive feedback leads to heightened employee engagement, trust, and loyalty. The end result is a more cohesive, productive, and resilient workforce that boosts the overall success and longevity of a team and company.

My list would look like this:
  • Transparency in Decision-Making
  • Encouraging Innovation and Creativity
  • Fostering Inclusivity and Diversity
  • Providing Constructive Feedback
  • Practising Active Listening
  • Prioritising Work-Life Balance
  • Demonstrating Accountability and Ownership
  • Celebrating Milestones and Achievements
  • Setting Clear Goals and Expectations
  • Facilitating Professional Development
I’ve worked with many teams of the years, some Corporate and traditional, some within innovation labs and some at hyper growth start-ups. There is commonality between the successful ones - When you get the team to be open, innovative, and really take care of each other, you're onto something. It just makes everything better. It isn’t fluff either; it’s the good stuff that makes people want to stick around and get stuff down while being there. It translates to a team that’s efficient, motivated, and, most importantly, happy to be there. Lower turnover, higher productivity, and a vibe that keeps everyone pushing forward—with those behaviours I’ve listed above you're basically creating a work culture that is solid and dependable.

Want to learn more?

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