The ubiquity of smart technology and information technology has made work-life balance more attainable than ever in the United States workforce. Telecommuting has made it possible for single parents to work while also caring for their children, and for single individuals to pursue personal passions while maintaining a sustainable living. However, this blurring of the lines between work and life have also brought work stress closer to home for millions of Americans, severely impacting their mental health.
The conversation surrounding work-life balance and its
effects on mental health has developed significantly over the last ten years.
Leadership in major corporations have become more aware of how their corporate
culture not only effects their workforce, but also their brand, productivity,
and their stock holders. The Health and Safety Executive published national
statistics declaring that 28.8 million work days were lost in 2018 due to both
physical and mental health reasons. While physical helath of employees has
always been one of the priorities for major corporations, mental health has
only recently come to the forefront of corporate priorities. In an article by
Sarah Chilton published by Forbes at the beginning of January, Chilton said, “In
some sectors there are cultural issues which are likely to exacerbate the
problems, or make it harder to openly discuss mental well-being. In particular,
high pressure environments, or night shift work for example, can contribute to
mental health issues. My own sector, the legal sector, with its highly
pressurized and competitive environment where there is a long hours and heavy
workload culture, can significantly affect mental wellbeing, but also the willingness
of employees and business owners to discuss it openly.”
This connectivity that Chilton mentions comes in the form of platforms like Slack, Monday.com, and other telecommuting tools that can be huge assets to corporate communication and productivity. These platforms can connect employees located around the countries, for a seemingly more holistic approach to corporate success. When your work is well-connected to the devices we use in our personal lives, such as our phones, our laptop computers, and home-based artificial intelligence like Alexa and Google Home devices, a bleeding source of stress is introduced that can further disrupt our desire for a work-life balance.
Regardless of an employee’s physical location within the
organization, many corporations are beginning to adopt work ratios that have
been proven to reduce this bleed, such as the 25:5 rule. That means a 5 minute
break for every 25 minutes of work completed. This can come in many forms, such
as walking meetings, meal breaks—anything that would stimulate an employee
physically in order to refocus their minds on their work once they return from
that break. This also reduces the physical impact of jobs that force employees
to sit for long periods of time, which has devastating effects on posture,
eye-strain, and lack of circulation in lower extremities that contribute to
health problems such as blood clots and diabetes.
When corporations invest in the mental health of their employees, the positive ripple effects may surprise even the most seasoned executive. Corporate culture moves in a cycle. When employees feel that their mental health is valued at their place of work, their level of engagement is higher in their capacity. This leads to a better quality of communication between employees and stronger engagement on behalf of individuals, which promotes productivity. This increased productivity not only pleases leadership, but also improves the quality of customer service within the organization, which also has the potential to impress and reassure shareholders.
How do you know when your business or organization needs a corporate culture audit? The fact of the matter is that you don’t have to be an educated risk assessment investigator to identify the signs. Many employees can trace their workplace woes back to an internal process or another employee they do not like. Sometimes it’s difficult to discern whether your organization needs a corporate culture audit. Here are 8 of the most prevalent signs that leadership should watch out for when it comes to declining corporate culture.
8. High-Pressure Environment
There is a plethora of high-pressure jobs that can create tension in the workplace, like media conglomerates, financial firms, and law offices. When stress is part of the job, many employers go the extra mile to ensure that their employees can have good work-life balance, such as paid-time-off, vacations, and comprehensive benefits. In high-pressure jobs where these things are not available to employees, the workforce regularly experiences burnout and lack of engagement. When leadership is ignorant or inattentive to these issues within their corporation, it drives corporate culture down and contributes to the overall detriment of the workplace.
Every employee has substandard days for a myriad of reasons, but when the workplace is constantly plagued by low energy and low morale, it spreads like a cancer throughout the organization. Employees who are engaged in the workplace increase productivity and customer experience. When apathy spreads throughout the workplace, it usually indicates that the root cause is pervasive, effects everyone, and needs to be neutralized as soon as possible.
If your organization is running into the same problems
quarter to quarter, this is a major red flag. The nature of the problems are insignificant—whether
it’s a problem with internal processes or multiple complaints of harassment,
the fact that the problem continues to thrive within the workplace indicates
that there is a fundamental issue with internal processes or personnel. While
each issue may have resolved initially, the root of the problem was never
identified or addressed. A healthy cycle of corporate culture cannot grow in
such an environment.
5. Poor Investments in People
When it comes to hiring and promoting employees, sometimes
leadership does not always make a sound investment in a single employee. It
happens in every business, where a new hire or promoted employee does not meet
expectations as predicted. This can bring internal operations to a screeching
halt, whether executives elect to correct this poor investment via termination
and turn-over, or to ignore the issue and allow that employee to continue
stalling the corporation’s mission.
4. Questionable Ethics
“Questionable ethics” does not mean that it’s apparent that
there is illegal or ethically unclear practices taking place within the
workplace—otherwise it would be much higher on this list. “Questionable ethics”
actually refers to individual employees’ understanding and ability to explain
their company’s values. Regardless of intent, corporations are sometimes vague
about their mission or values, using rosy words that denote a company with
integrity and passion for bringing their products and consumers together. This
can make it difficult for employees to intellectualize company goals and
vision. When the workforce does not have a clear, common goal to achieve as a
whole, employees can easily become detached and apathetic.
3. Lack of Accountability
When corporate culture is healthy, there is a mindful unity throughout the workforce, in which individual employees are content, engaged, and working towards the same goal. When the corporate culture is poor, individual employees at all levels refuse to take responsibility when something goes wrong. Lack of accountability for a mistake or oversight leads to a great deal of finger-pointing and shrugging in meetings and over email, and slows down the wheels of progress within a corporation or organization.
2. Bad Behavior in Leadership
Corporate culture audits can catch some of the most elusive culprits of tainting corporate culture: Executives and leadership. The old adage goes, “The fish stinks from the head,” meaning that most distasteful things within a company or organization can be traced back to leadership. Whether it is a supervising manager or an executive, bad behavior on behalf of leadership always trickles down into the rest of the workforce, because the supposition is, “If the boss is doing this, it must be okay.” This applies to all levels of bad behavior, from theft to malingering and everything in between.
1. Lack of Diversity
The number one indicator that your company or organization
might need a corporate culture audit is a lack of diversity in the workforce.
Any corporate culture that is homogenized with regards to race, gender
identity, sexual orientation, or even age lacks the inherent ability to grow
and change. Leadership in the workplace—management and executive positions—are
dominated by cisgender, straight, white men, who are statistically projected to
hire other individuals who are also in this category. Individuals in this
category are hired, mentored, and promoted more than others, which feeds into a
cycle of stagnation that will ultimately disbenefit the company or
organization. The value of diversity comes with the support of trusted
employees from many walks of life—employees who have had different life
experiences and have a perspective that can reinvigorate an organization’s
vision or mission—ensuring that the pursuits of the workplace are growing and
changing along with the rest of the economy.
When corporations make the investment to evaluate their corporate culture, it’s important that they choose a vendor who offers a comprehensive audit program. With the rise of the #MeToo movement, the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) saw an overall increase of 13.6% of sexual harassment filings in 2018. That’s not counting other filings for discrimination based on age, race, and sexual orientation. This has placed corporations on high alert as the nation’s capitalist climate gears up for change in their workplaces. This means that when leadership opts for a corporate culture audit, it’s important that their money is well-spent, and one of the best moves to make is hiring private investigators to handle the audit.
Many corporate culture audits are performed by independent risk assessment firms, which is to be expected. Risk assessment firms specialize in identifying the weak points in a business from their workforce background to their brick and mortar security. However, if leadership is going to invest in improving their corporate culture, it’s important that they pick a program that offers comprehensive services. While risk assessment firms might employ highly capable auditors capable of identifying security oversight or performing background checks, every business is different, and it’s important that the program selected fit every business true-to-form. That’s where a private investigator can be an invaluable asset.
Private investigators as a profession have a lurid
reputation for following philandering spouses and people suspected of worker’s
compensation fraud. The same tool chest that allows them to perform those
services is the same one that makes them ideal candidates to perform corporate
culture audits. Private investigators have an eye for detail, diligent drive,
and a meticulous ability to evaluate and make recommendations based on what
they’ve observed. These are the types of professionals you want when it comes
to assessing the culture of your business or organization.
Independent risk assessment firms are just as excellent in
identifying the risk factors that put a business or organization at risk, such
as vulnerabilities in their securities, faulty hiring processes, and at-risk
employees based on their history—but what about the human element within a
corporate culture audit? Corporate culture audits are so much more than
comparing documents and surveying brick-and-mortar locations. It’s also about
understanding how current employees function in a workplace ecosystem. Private
investigators, with a wealth of experience in evaluating human behavior and
emotions, can be the boots-on-the-ground investigators who can speak with
current employees and collect data on their impressions of the current work
environment and how the culture can be improved. Some of the questions private
investigators may address include, but are not limited to:
everyone in the company invested in the same things?
are the valued differences between your corporation and the competition?
are the key measures of success within your company?
is the functionality of the leadership in place versus the leadership required
are the environmental factors that are contributing to the decline in culture?
is the history of your company’s culture from its foundation?
are the subcultures that have formed in your organization and what is their
role within the company?
By answering these questions and calculating the human responses, private investigators can provide executive leadership with recommendations based on more than what exists on paper; for example, the last item on that list regarding the identification of subcultures. Private investigators do not only look at the behavior of individual employees, but also how those employees relate to each other. In workspaces where there are employees of 10 or more, it is hyper-common for subcultures (or groups) to form. This happens when individual employees gravitate towards one another as a result of their shared interests, goals, or gripes. Their comradery can either contribute to the cycle of corporate culture, or undermine it. When a subculture forms because the employees all have similar degrees of dissatisfaction with their job (regardless of the reason), their validation of one another in solidarity can be a cancer within the organization. This is why it’s imperative to hire corporate culture auditors who have a high level of understanding of human behavior—they can provide a comprehensive picture of how their current employees are contributing to the cycle of corporate culture.
private investigators may not be able to dismantle subcultures, they can change
the conversation within those subcultures. Groups of employees who bond over
poor treatment from a supervisor or frustration with current internal processes
will have to find other things to talk about once these issues are addressed
and remedied appropriately. This is one of the ways that we improve the cycle
of corporate culture. When employees see pervasive issues being addressed by
leadership, they are inherently more engaged in the process, which can increase
the quality of communication, the level of productivity, and the overall health
of the workplace. Private investigators are some of the best professionals to perform
these audits ultimately because they have a grasp of human behavior that allows
them to accurately pinpoint the issues and make recommendations to leadership.