How to Cope With Poor Workplace Culture

Find your zen any way you can.

Find your zen any way you can.

When the people at your workplace are filled with negativity, pessimism, despair, laziness or are just plain backstabbers, you may be tempted to quit and find another job. While that's one way to solve the problem of a poor workplace culture, it's not always the most accessible option. Instead of stooping to the level of your whiny co-workers, do what you can to fix the problem.

Find an outlet besides work. Yes, you do spend eight hours or more at your job -- but that's no reason not to enjoy the rest of your life. Find a hobby or sporting activity that you enjoy, and pour your energies into it after-hours; it can help you cope during the bad times and give you a more positive outlook.

Take some time for yourself. Instead of sitting in the break room for 15 minutes, go outside for a quick walk, or spend some time meditating during your lunch break. Getting out of that toxic environment -- even for a few minutes -- can ease the pain.

Conduct a survey to find out what employees want. If you're the boss, start holding regular meetings that allow workers to sound off about their concerns, or provide them with an anonymous e-mail or suggestion-box method for addressing concerns. When you identify the problems, make a big show of letting workers know you're working on addressing their concerns -- and then really work on addressing them.

Ask your boss to help you form a "vision" committee, if you're not a boss and you're only an employee with no leadership role. The committee can advocate for office improvements by being a voice for the employees. Enlist the help of a few interested colleagues to join the committee, and then hold regular meetings to gather ideas and work on solutions. By working on the small worker complaints, you are showing others that the company cares about its workers and listens to their concerns. If your boss is against it, form the committee after-hours, so that interested parties will at least have a support network when they need it.

Encourage teamwork. When there's a culture of blame or "it's not my job," the business's productivity is going to suffer. If you're the boss, set goals or sales targets based on the group's collective work instead of pitting individuals against each other, advises business educator Brandon Smith of The Workplace Therapist. Individual goals create a cut-throat culture where everyone is out for themselves. If you're the employee and not the boss, encourage teamwork by taking interest in others' work. Check in with them about their progress and do what you can to encourage them to do the same with other co-workers.

Plan positive activities that encourage moral support. Whether you're the boss or the employee, come up with team-building activities that won't come off as too contrived. Set up a weekly walking club over the lunch break, a mid-week potluck or a standing Friday happy hour -- something that gets workers together in a relaxed, no-pressure atmosphere. You might not be able to change the workplace culture all the way to the top of the organization, but at least you can create a place where workers stick together and lean on each other for friendship and camaraderie.

Tip

  • If you're the supervisor of a group of workers with bad attitudes, consider other methods to show that the company is invested in their well-being. Profit-sharing or financially supporting workers to further their education are both ways to show investment in employees, advises "Inc." magazine.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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