Dysfunctional Workplace Cultures to Avoid

It’s true – there’s no such thing as a perfect workplace. Every organizational culture has its positives and negatives. But in my experience with employee engagement, there are two particular workplace environments to be avoided at all costs.

“Oppression by purpose” describes “companies that have a mission to make a positive difference in the world, but essentially do so on the backs of their employees.” Consider the company that prides itself on supporting a special cause – such as protecting the environment, enhancing educational opportunities, helping communities become healthier, etc. – that mandates employee involvement (voluntold vs. volunteerism).  This type of workplace can also be found in the nonprofit and public sectors. Just because organizations serve a worthwhile purpose does not ensure they are great places to work.

Institutional disrespect is another organizational culture to avoid. This workplace is characterized by managers who bully employees without repercussion, including those who ignore or dismiss company protocol to assert their perceived power. An environment in which managers continually undermine employee efforts is not healthy,

Both cultures share characteristics of a toxic workplace that suck the life out of employee enthusiasm where doing meaningful work is not enough to sustain their engagement. Seriously, it’s no fun to work in a dysfunctional organization.

[“Oppression by purpose” source: When Employee Engagement Turns Into Employee Burnout by Tony Schwartz, March 13, 2105  NYTimes.com]

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