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Is the company culture impacting your health?

How can we harness and protect ourselves against the negative impact of toxic company culture on our health?

A lot has been said about how company cultures relate to the success of the company. There are examples of great cultures and not so great ones, some where people thrive and others where employees tend to struggle with motivational and stress-related issues. It is great that there is more and better focus on it nowadays and it is clear that without the right culture, even great corporate strategies won’t be successful. But what does a culture do to us as employees from a health perspective and how can we prepare and possibly protect ourselves?

The culture at a company is described as good when employees feel they can open and safely communicate, where they feel appreciated and empowered or when there is alignment with our values and believes as individuals. On the other hand, in case there is a misalignment with the values or if we don´t feel appreciated, feel our input doesn´t matter, this can negatively affect our well-being, in general, resulting in all kinds of health-related symptoms. Ignoring or diminishing the impact of these factors on our health, might not be a good idea. Most appearing symptoms are illnesses related to stress, sleep deprivation, lack of concentration, lack of energy and ultimately absence at the workplace. Nevertheless, the financial aspect of our jobs appears to remain the main driver in career choices.

If you are looking for a new job or if you want to prepare better for the next step in your career as you are experiencing symptoms as described, there are several steps you can take to understand what the culture at a new job is like and which elements could affect you positively and which negatively ultimately helping you to avoid making the wrong choice.

First of all, we can research the culture we will be part of at the company we join through services like Glassdoor and reflect on how it possibly can have consequences on us before making the final decision to join. The same for when we are not happy in our current job when daily emotional conflicts are encountered, we can investigate which element is it that impacts us negatively and take action. Within the Glassdoor platform, employees and ex-employees can leave comments regarding the culture at the company, resulting in a rating. Other platforms to use are to look in the list of “Best workplaces” or “Best Companies to work for” to find out which are the elements the best performing corporations invest in and why they are appreciated, therefore.

Second, make the most of the interview process. Ask the interviewers to describe the company culture, how they would describe the leadership style, what is the company´s approach towards career development or any other organization related topic important to you. This way you receive a first-hand verbal description of what your future workplace looks like.

A third option is to check directly with the employees of the company. LinkedIn shows you if you have any direct connections currently active there. Reach out to these contacts and check if they´re willing to provide some direct insights.

With the outcome of the research and the answers to for you important questions, you can make a balance for your personal decision making regarding the new job opportunity to be the one for you to thrive or not.

Another factor is the purpose of the company. We want to feel close to the purpose which is expressed in a vision and mission for the organization. The CEO and leadership should have a very clear understanding of this and should be very clear in communicating the purpose to the employees, so you as a professional have a clear objective and understanding how we contribute to this.

If the job satisfaction is low for the abovementioned reasons and if there is a disconnect with the purpose there is a high risk of stress, lack of sleep, low energy higher level of distraction which negatively impacts our health. Unfortunately, as the outcome of the 2019 report “Mind the workplace” from the Mental Health America foundation shows, as much as 60% of research correspondents reported that it was safer to remain silent about things that required improvement at their company, while an even higher percentage of 69% reported feeling safer not to report their workplace stress. Therefore, please investigate the company you are about to join or recognize and evaluate the culture you are exposed to and confirm the environment is one for you to thrive in.

If not, does the financial aspect, compensate for the damage a toxic culture can have on your health?

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