Is it possible that the productivity and morale of your team suffering at the hands of toxic employee cliques? An uncomfortable workplace atmosphere or a downturn in performance might not lead you to think first of toxic employees. You might question the competency of your leadership or your own business strategy first, but a negative evolution within corporate culture can have a surprisingly erosive impact—often going unnoticed until substantial damage has been done.
At a most basic level, the formation of toxic employee cliques inevitably leads to a loss of profits, stalling workplace momentum, operational issues, and a rise in staff turnover. At the more insidious end of the scale, toxic culture can culminate in discrimination or workplace harassment complaints, and all of the potential legal and reputational complications that can follow.
Of course, every organization wants to see its employees get along. Strong working relationships can foster fantastic morale and cohesion when those bonds are healthy. So, how can employers tell the difference? Here, we will examine some of the tell-tale signs that a toxic employee clique may be impacting your business, and how professional workplace investigations can help you transform corporate culture for the better.
Negative Narratives Become Currency in the Workplace
While feedback is a vital progression tool within any company, a constant negative undertone is a strong indicator that toxic employees may be steering the dominant narrative within a workplace. That chronic negativity may manifest as gossip, backstabbing, or rumor spreading, or it may appear in more passive-aggressive forms—such as body language, sarcastic tones, disrespecting boundaries, cynicism, victimhood, and undermining others.
While team members of course need to vent on occasion, holding workplace narratives within a negative frame leaves no oxygen in the room for motivation, objective seeking, or innovative thinking. Toxicity tends to nourish itself, relegating the needs of others and of the company itself to the wayside.
A Tight-Knit Group Shows Signs of Ostracizing Others
Those who are embraced by a toxic employee clique may not notice the need for alarm bells immediately. However, for those left on the outside, the impact of a workplace clique’s presence will be felt immediately. Those excluded will begin to feel undervalued, dissatisfied, and demotivated. Meanwhile, the root cause of lost productivity and a dropping bottom line can remain elusive for those who don’t know the warning signs. While workplace friendships can be immensely valuable, they should never come at a cost to colleagues’ well-being, or company success.
Toxic Employee Clique Behavior Slides Into Bullying
While some forms of bullying are obvious, workplace bullying can be surprisingly hard to spot—especially when toxic employees resort to covert or manipulative behavior. While hostility to colleagues can take place within the workplace, cyberbullying can become pervasive before management even notice a blip on the radar. When toxic employee cliques demand conformity, both those within and outside of the group can start to avoid creative thinking, out of fear or reprisal. This waste of professional talent means less innovation within your business, and less work satisfaction for your employees.
Toxic Employee Cliques Thrive When Left Unaddressed
Failing to call out toxic employee behavior inevitably validates and emboldens the clique mindset, while further disempowering those outside of that unhealthy inner circle. Valuable and committed employees may well seek a better work environment elsewhere, while new recruits will be vulnerable to getting sucked into quickly-entrenched patterns of damaging behavior. As the performance of others begins to suffer, those within a toxic clique may respond competitively, showcasing their comparative strength and actively sabotaging co-workers.
Tacking Toxic Employee Cliques Head On
Many leaders and company owners don’t consider the value of corporate investigations until a major incident occurs. However, conducting a thorough investigation at the first point of suspicion—or even as a maintenance strategy—can allow organizations to nip toxic behavior in the bud before it begins to spread. Tactics such as breaking up cliques by asking employees to take on projects in different groups, or reworking—and re-training—codes of online and in-office conduct can be effective. However, it is essential to understand the scale of the problem in order to resolve it effectively. The impartial assistance of an expert investigator can be invaluable in revealing an honest picture of the current corporate culture within your organization. Learn more about the Corporate Culture Audits and Corporate Investigations offered by Lauth Investigations. Not only will we help you uncover the true state of play, but we will aid you in drawing a road map towards the type of workplace culture that will allow all of your employees to shine.
As never before, today’s consumers expect the brands they buy into to lead by example when it comes to equality and social justice. Any organization that allows workplace discrimination to run rampant is not only going to face the potential of legal repercussions, but also substantial reputational damage that is hard to bounce back from.
In contrast, when companies choose to take a hard moral line, express their values openly, foster strong corporate culture, and tackle any internal challenges head on, they can come out wearing a badge of honor in the eyes of their audience. So ask yourself, is your organization setting a shining example, or are you asleep at the wheel?
What Is Workplace Discrimination?
While workplace harassment of any kind should always be taken seriously, discrimination carries a particular weight. In essence, discrimination describes the unfair treatment of an applicant or employee on the basis of their skin color, race, national origin, religion, gender, sexuality, age, marital status, or handicap. In dealing with an issue that lands under both Federal and State employment and labor laws, employers are responsible for ensuring that discrimination does not find a home within the teams for which they are responsible.
Discrimination may arise in the behavior of a single rogue employee, or it may present as a pervasive aspect of a corroded corporate culture. It is also vital to be aware that prejudice and discriminatory behavior can emerge upon any rung of the corporate ladder, from low-level recruits right up to the C-suite.
Swift and Appropriate Action
In many cases, an employer may be entirely unaware that a member of their team possesses problematic qualities. However, ignorance can be unforgiving; when a complaint arises, the fallout can escalate quickly. If alleged discrimination is reported as a crime, those at the helm of HR for the company may find that they are not only navigating their own internal workplace investigations, but that law enforcement agencies are on the scene as well. Pressure to arrive at a fair and just resolution can mount even further if the workplace discrimination complaint arrives in the public eye.
When employers navigate discrimination complaints poorly, they not only risk untold damage to team morale and company perception, but also legal culpability for allowing discrimination to go unaddressed. In the midst of such a challenging situation—particularly when the accused is in a leadership role—HR personnel and upper management can find mounting an impartial workplace investigation particularly challenging. In this scenario, calling on the aid of an external expert can ensure the integrity and legal solidity of each step yet to be taken.
Hiring a Private Investigator When Discriminations Complaints Arise
Given the gravity of this type of complaint, bringing in the cavalry in the form of a private investigator can be invaluable. Highly skilled corporate investigators from Lauth Investigations are ready to offer the skill set required to deliver a fair and moral outcome. A seasoned investigator will take the lead on corporate investigations, reviewing background histories, interviewing witnesses, and documenting patterns until a full picture emerges. With surveillance capabilities and the capacity to go undercover at our fingertips, we will find the right strategy to reveal the information you need.
Private investigators specializing in corporate investigations are adept at working delicately alongside law enforcement, while maintaining confidentiality, and sensitively safeguarding both employee well-being and brand identities alike. We are poised to aid in the navigation of legal matters, and can help organizations deliver justice while avoiding potential employee retaliation litigation. Learn more about how we can assist when workplace discrimination complaints arise, discover the bountiful rewards of Corporate Culture Audits. We are always on hand, so contact our team to discuss the unique needs of your organization.
Does your company need to improve online reputation? Are negative reviews popping up over and over again on employment review sites? Are employees routinely making negative posts about their job with your corporation? Answers to these questions in the affirmative could be indicative that your business needs some online reputation management services to improve your image and your relationship with your employees for a happier and healthier workplace.
We already know that corporate culture moves in a cycle—in which those in leadership have the power and ability to invest in the health and happiness of their employees so that they can be more engaged in their work. When corporate culture is poor, the ripple effects throughout a company can be devastating. Pervasive patterns of low employee morale can spread like a disease and cause a significant portion of the workplace to disengage from their duties and drive down the company’s bottom line. Low morale can be caused by things like failure to address persistent problems within daily operations, poor working conditions, or refusal to remove toxic employees from day-to-day life. Whatever the cause, that low morale not only rots your business from within, but can also seep into the nooks and crannies of your marketing campaign in ways you may have never expected.
Reputation management used to be just about television, radio, and print media, but now the rise of the internet and social media has forced employers to rethink how these outlets may impact their business. Social media is used by individuals to stay in touch with others and to cultivate the personality they wish to portray online. Corporations can use these platforms in the same way to maintain contact with their customer base, as well as garner exposure from new users. In this way, they can build rapport with their customer base and inspire confidence in their products or services.
Negative posts from employees can also reflect poorly on your business’s online reputation. Employees who post on their social media about negative experiences they’ve had with their employers have the potential to go viral depending on the content, and soon the entire internet is chatting about it. Sites like Glassdoor make it possible for current and former employees to share their experiences with the company as an employer. These sites also create a greater degree of transparency regarding a company’s purported vision and how their corporate culture reflects those values. Negative posts on sites like these can fully deter prospective employees from applying for a position with that company, which is why leadership must be vigilant in monitoring these sites.
In the interest of due-diligence with an internal investigation, thousands of documents must be reviewed, processed, and itemized. Internal processes must be reviewed and evaluated by an internal investigator. It may be necessary to interview employees regarding their knowledge of the matter—those accounts must be cataloged, transcribed, and placed in context within the investigation. In addition to the tangible resources that are expended during the investigation, there’s hundreds of hours of labor hours that must be invoiced and paid out. The Fulbright Litigation Trends Survey presented data that indicated internal investigation costs were already on the rise back in 2011. Excluding the cost of settlements and judgements, they reported a median spend with American corporations of $1.4 million. Almost a quarter of those businesses reporting spent an excess of $5 million or more regarding internal complaints. For large companies with a wealth of resources, $5 million may seem like a drop in the bucket, but there are many smaller businesses who could easily be bankrupted by such a price tag. Those same companies also do not have the budget to maintain a specialized internal investigations team to address internal complaints when they arise.
There is a wide variety of events that could trigger a corporate investigation. Perhaps an employee files a sexual harassment complaint against another. Perhaps a whistleblower brings attention to a pervasive internal problem. Whatever the cause, it’s up to leadership within the corporation or organization to ensure that the problem is addressed. While some entities have the budget for an internal investigation team, the investigation itself still places a strain on a business and its resources.
Private investigators are the perfect professionals to conduct your corporation’s culture audit for a number of reasons. Just to name a few, private investigators have similar skill sets to investigators who work in risk assessment, can conduct internal investigations without disruption, and can offer you a more customizable program that will fit your business.
Private investigators build successful practices because
they have a detailed eye for human behavior. When it comes to private
investigation, it’s not always just about what a subject is doing, but also why
they’re doing it. Because they have a wealth of experience in rationalizing and
predicting human behavior, private investigators might have an edge over
traditional corporate culture audits performed by risk assessment investigators.
What we know about the cycle of corporate culture indicates that there is a
cause/effect relationship between an employee’s level of engagement and how
successful the company or organization is in their internal operations. We also
know that an organization’s structure can directly affect how engaged employees
are. This is why private investigators are so invaluable. They can look at
characteristics of the workforce on paper and in real life to assess how
employees feed into the current cycle of corporate culture.
Risk assessment firms specialize in internal investigation,
but too often, leadership will neglect undergoing an audit because they believe
that it will be too much a daily disruption to internal operations. By virtue
of their profession, private investigators excel at blending in to their
environment, whether it’s in a busy street, or a quiet library. Whatever the
nature of their investigation, private investigators know how to conduct their
due-diligence without drawing attention to themselves or others. This skillset
is especially valuable if leadership wishes to conduct a covert internal
investigation. After all, people behave the most naturally when they believe they
aren’t being watched. In this way, private investigators can infiltrate businesses
and obtain necessary information without piquing the curiosity or suspicion of
Another hallmark of a private investigation’s profession is their flexibility and autonomy. Sometimes private investigators can very quickly pick up leads that other investigators cannot because they have autonomy other types of investigators do not. This flexibility gives private investigators the ability to customize any corporate culture audit program to fit your business’s needs. Some companies may be small, but do not have the traditional structure of a brick-and-mortar business. Other companies might be large, but have a workforce where millennials dominate the majority. This is where a private investigator’s diverse experience can allow them to identify the problems and prioritize the most prevalent problems to right the ship of corporate culture.
If your business or organization needs a corporate culture
audit, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our
corporate culture audit program. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business
Bureau, 5-star ratings with Google, and we are staffed by former military and
law enforcement personnel. Call 317-951-1100, or find us online at www.lauthinveststg.wpengine.com
Independent corporate investigations are an investment in their companies. It’s not hard to understand why a corporation would want to minimize the impact of a corporate crisis. Corporate crises come in many forms, and all of them have undeniable effects on the workplace, corporate culture, and the bottom line. That’s why employers must be vigilant of problems within their workplaces, address those problems with independent corporate investigations, and foster an environment where there is an open dialogue to address pervasive issues within the workplace.
Ignoring a corporate crisis will not ensure the problem will go away. The idea of “letting it blow over,” does not guarantee the problem will not occur again. Pervasive, repeated patterns of corporate crises are indicative of a deeper error in the company’s operations. Only by addressing the root of these issues can a company hope to avoid these problems from repeating in the future. Many companies do have shareholders and other interests to protect, but ultimately, the issue must be addressed in order to avoid further losses. That’s why it’s crucial for employers to know when it’s time to hire a private investigator for their corporate investigation.
There are many reasons bribery may occur within a business. Perhaps an employee is offering cash to an inspector to buy their silence on certain violations on their worksite. The same could be said of an employee who bribes a government representative in exchange for the same discretion. If not exposed, not only can this cause infinite negative ripple effects within the corporation, but if caught, the parties responsible can incur costly penalties, and possible prosecution. In order to prevent these losses, both financial and in public relations, employers must trigger a corporate investigation.
A break-in, or other theft from the workplace should not be treated as an isolated incident. It’s imperative that a corporate investigation can be triggered so the void in security operations can be filled and prevent further losses. If the corporation’s security system requires and update, or if perimeter fences need to be reinforced, those items must be addressed. Thieves will continue to slip through the cracks if they’re not properly patched.
White Collar Crime
White collar crime specifically refers to when crimes like bribery and theft occur at an executive level, denoting the perpetrator’s level of access and perceived credibility within the company. They are elevated crimes and have some of the strongest potential to devastate a company or organization. White collar crime can be tricky to investigate, as most procedures for investigating misconduct would likely come across the executive’s desk. That’s why employers should consider the discretion of a private investigator for this type of corporate investigation.
When there is a breach in your company’s cybersecurity, there must be swift and competent intervention. Your company’s webmasters and I.T. professionals work hard, and there are going to be breaches that they do not know how to address, either due to the sophistication of the breach, or their limited experience with certain types of breaches. When a hacker can invade your company’s website or intranet, those are major patches that must take place as soon as possible. Think of a breach like a wound, and from that open wound, the corporation can continue to leak data, industry secrets, or actual profits. Your corporate investigation must include an investigator with a diverse discipline who can answer crucial questions about the breach—the who, why, and how of the breach, and whether or not the threat is still present and ongoing, or if there has been a proverbial “smash and grab” of the intranet. Skilled investigators will have the appropriate tools and methodology to address these issues and get employers the answers they need.
Repeated instances of discrimination or sexual harassment are systemic issues that must be addressed in order to prevent costly turnover, training, and decline in corporate culture. Discrimination and harassment not only have internal costs, but can wind up costing the company thousands in legal fees and potentially millions in settlement money if patterns of abuse can be proven in civil court. Discrimination and harassment also have a disastrous effect on workplace culture as targets of the abuse become fearful or uncomfortable in their jobs and the perpetrators continue the same cycle of abuse that causes losses in turnover and loss of employee engagement. Patterns of abuse like this demand a corporate investigation, not only for the sake of the bottom line, but also for the individuals involved.
Knowledge of Imminent State or Federal Investigation
Upon receipt of a federal subpoena or other indication that there will be an investigation into your business by a government entity, many employers find it prudent to get out ahead of the bureaucratic red tape and get a comprehensive picture of what the government is likely to find. This can lead to prescient legal or public relations strategies that may go a long way in remedying the situation. A corporate investigation into the internal staff, operations, and policies can prepare you for what the investigating agency may find when they comb through the corporation.
Fraud can occur at any level of the employment structure, from entry-level positions all the way up to executives. The strategy for approaching a corporate investigation concerning fraud should change depending on the scope of the fraud and the culprit. This means hiring a corporate investigator with a sophisticated understanding of fraud investigations and how to document the evidence in those cases. Without clear answers and professional solutions to fraud, employers simply don’t know what they don’t know. The act of contracting an independent third party to investigate also makes it more difficult for the perpetrator to cover up their actions.
When facing a civil, criminal, or commercial court case, corporations must apply the same methodology when reacting to an impending investigation by a government body. Independent internal corporate investigations not only provide a veneer of transparency by the corporation in question, but also provides them with an idea of what the plaintiff in the case could conceivably find and use against the defendant in court. This prevents the corporation from being blindsided in an already litigious situation. The more information the corporation has, the better prepared it will be to defend itself.
Whistleblowers are every company’s worst nightmare, because not all corporations have operations in place for the contingency of a whistleblower. Thus, when an employee comes forward about misconduct or another internal matter to the press, the fallout can be embarrassing and devastating to the company. Corporate investigations into whistleblowing claims are good-faith efforts to address the concerns raised by the whistleblower in an objective manner. Hiring a private investigator for this corporate investigation can also be a sign of transparency on behalf of the corporation. Comprehensive corporate investigations can also shed light on other issues that might have otherwise been subjected to whistleblowing. Leadership can swiftly intervene and address any problems that might be occurring within their business or organization.
Knowing when to trigger a corporate investigation can be half the battle. Trust your instincts, and remember that it’s better to be prudent than proud when it comes to your corporate crisis. If you’re in need of a corporate investigation, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free consultation on our corporate investigation services. Call 317-951-1100 today or visit us online at www.lauthinveststg.wpengine.com.