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Career Advice

Job 911: What To Do When Company Culture is on Life Support?

Posted by Amy Elisa Jackson

August 30, 2016

An unexpected leadership shake-up. Stocks plummeting and shareholders buzzing. Pulling 16-hour days for weeks at a time. Many of us have been at companies where culture has tanked during stressful times. From Tinder to Southwest to Ford, not-so-good quarters have played out publicly upping the ante and causing employees to consider jumping ship. However, this is not a time to panic, it’s a time to be proactive.

“A company is like a family. Everyone plays a critical role and contributes in unique and powerful ways. Regardless of your level in the organization, you have an incredible amount of positive power in how you show up and engage with the people around you and your work,” said Glassdoor’s Head of Employer Brand, Kirsten Davidson. “A positive environment is contagious.”

Whether you are an intern, a contractor, or middle manager, each person in an organization can contribute to turning around a floundering company culture—especially senior management. Yes, that includes the CEO.

New research based on Glassdoor data showed that “bad management” is linked to significantly lower employee morale. “The number one reason employees at underperforming companies give for being dissatisfied is senior management,” said Davidson. “Senior management plays a critical role in setting the tone for the company. But ultimately, culture is about the employees. And when employees are on teams where they feel supported and allowed to authentically show up and contribute, you see higher levels of performance.”


Therefore, before bailing on your company during a rough patch, consider how you can contribute to resuscitating the office morale. Here are 5 ways to get your company off life support:

1. Jot down the problems and brainstorm solutions.

While you may not be able to do much about a company's stock price or an executive's departure, nearly every employee can address issues like: negative rumors, bad attitudes at meetings, poor communication and diminished work-life balance. "Put together a plan for how to improve morale," advised Davidson. "Often times it's the employees who are lower in the organization who have their finger on the pulse of what actually is not working and have the best insight into how to fix it. Socialize the plan with strong leaders in the organization who have influence and enlist their support."

[Related: What Makes a Great CEO?]

2. Be realistic and transparent.

Especially during times of trouble, 89% of job seekers are either actively looking for jobs or open to better opportunities and 57% of job seekers are either employed for full-time or part-time, according to Glassdoor. It's important to know that many of your coworkers may have one foot out the door, so convincing them to stay may be hard. However, you can communicate and be transparent. Acknowledge the challenges, especially if you're a manager or have direct reports, but offer solutions for how you will solve them. Ask for their input, show colleagues you care, and offer positive solutions for how others in the office can make temporary changes to alleviate the stress. Whether it's cutting back on meetings or organizing a team happy hour, the little things count.

[Related: What Do Other Employees Say About Your Company?]

3. Get others on board.

Addressing the issue(s) head on is essential to transparency, next you need a few allies. Rally other colleagues around a common goal of easing the work mood, even if it's just for one team. A group of 4 or 5 well-intentioned people can help stem the tide of negativity and potentially make the office environment more bearable for the larger team. Davidson, cautions, however, "companies can't afford to leave culture up to a few engaged employees. It takes everyone to build a company that provides a rewarding career experience where employees benefit personally and professionally."

[Related: What Do People Say About Your CEO?]

4. Highlight the positive aspects.

"Every company, no matter what is going on, has things about it that are working," said Davidson. This is where Glassdoor data and company pages come into play. Utilize these to get an outside perspective on what is working in your company, which can sometimes be hard to do when you're in the day-to-day chaos. "Often companies take what is working for granted, much they way an individual might take their own gifts and talents for granted and just focus on what needs to be fixed. Find what's working. Lean into it. Create programs that support and give a lift to the things that are working. And fix what's broken."

[Related: How to Deal With a Bad Boss]

5. Double down on your efforts.

Instead of simply organizing one happy hour or one morale meeting, consider ways to make your strategies play out over a series of weeks or months. Consistently improving the company culture and reinforcing the positive aspects of an organization proves that you're dedicated to long-term change. "By remembering to prioritize and give love to what is working sends a strong message that the company cares and can give you the boost you need while you create the long term strategies and plans you need to put in place to ensure the long-term success of your organization."

DISCOVER: What's The Link Between CEO Pay and Company Culture? Find Out!

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