Toxicity in the Workplace

Today, many employees are stuck in a toxic workplace. These bad vibes can cause people to dislike their jobs, kill productivity, and hamper the growth of your organization. Having a toxic workplace or bad office culture can turn a profit-generating business into a money pit. So, what is a toxic environment and how do we stop it? To understand, we first need to know how a toxic workplace is created so that you can effectively change it and make your organization a great place to work.


If you are starting to see a decline in communication or you find it difficult to communicate with your team effectively you may have a problem. One of the most well-known signs of toxicity in the work environment is the lack of effective communication. This can have a tremendously negative impact on the production of your business. Communication and teamwork are vital to any business that wants to be successful. Without communication, you will see a rapid decline in individual and team functions. Workers who are subject to a toxic work environment will often say they don’t feel heard or understood by their peers or leaders.

Work Habits

Toxicity in the workplace can take a great employee from thriving to barely surviving. An employee will thrive when they feel valued and appreciated. When they feel underpaid and underappreciated it puts them into a fight or flight mode of survival. Our natural instincts kick in and our defensive walls go up. You will see an increase in absences, poor attitude, and lack of individual production because they are working to get to the end of the day rather than t to achieve a shared goal.

Team Work

Broken relationships and friendships can wreak havoc in the work environment. Gossiping becomes the norm, cliques are formed, and people feel pitted against one another. Most workers relate these types of experiences to that of being in high school. It is important to work together and have trust in your peers. Team building exercises can help strengthen the bonds of trust between team members and build rapport around the office.  These exercises don’t have to be elaborate or have huge prizes. They are fun and provide a productive break from your ordinary schedule.

Work/Life Balance

As an employee, it is imperative to have a good balance of work and home life. Without it you will feel the negative effects it can have on your daily performance and your overall health. These negative effects can go both ways. If you are thriving at work and happy at home life can be so rewarding. If the scale is tipped slightly one way or another it can be very challenging to get back into harmony. These types of imbalances are likely to have a negative effect not only on you but your coworkers, as well. Both employee and manager are responsible for creating a workable work/life balance within your company.

The Spread

Many people know that toxicity can be like a spore of dandelion fluff in the wind once it is blown apart it spreads quickly. As a leader, it is important to snuff out any turmoil or issues before the trouble threatens morale within the office. It’s critical to the success of your business that you remain vigilant to any changes in the attitude of your team.

All in all, toxicity in the workplace is something that can occur within any organization, however, with the right environment and the right management your organization can thrive within a strong, happy office. The bottom line is, if management can quickly identify and stop it in its tracks, you will have an organization full of happy employees, willing to work hard for you day in and day out. Best of luck!


The 7 Pillars of Job Satisfaction

Whether you absolutely love your current job or you are actively looking for a new one, you need to know how to evaluate it correctly. These seven factors determine how well your job fits your life plans and how much you enjoy your work.

Favorite Skills

What activity, interest, or hobby do you love spending time doing? If money were no object, how would you choose to spend your time?

Most Important Values

What kind of work is the best fit for your character or your code of ethics? What is most important to you? Is there a particular cause or mission you’d like to work towards?

Areas of Fascination

What fields have always interested you? Where is your passion? Follow that and success will most likely follow.

Favorite People to Work With

What kind of people do you like to work with or spend time with? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you prefer to be a part of a team or an independent contributor?

Preferred Working Conditions

What is your favorite work environment? Do you enjoy working with a strict deadline or a more laissez-faire pace in the office?

Responsibility and Compensation

How much responsibility and importance are you willing to accept? The idea that more responsibility leads to a higher compensation isn’t true in all cases. However, it’s a useful indicator of the salary range you can expect.

Ideal Place to Live and Work

Where do you love to spend your life? Are you a city-dweller or do you prefer a mountain retreat?

Evaluating your current role using these seven factors will tell you a lot about where you are in your career. Wherever you find yourself, our team of career experts will always be here to coach, guide, and ensure that you’re getting the absolute best career opportunities available.


12 Factors That Make Up Your Corporate Culture

What’s Your Corporate Culture Made Of?

Factors That Make Up Your Corporate Culture

The 12 factors illustrated above make up the unique culture of every business. Some factors may play a critical role in the day-to-day activities of your business, while others don’t come into play as often. If you want to have a comprehensive understanding of your corporate culture (and how to use it to attract top talent) you have to evaluate what that culture is made of.


Culture starts at the top. Your CEO is responsible for setting the tone for your entire organization.


Your culture is shaped by your corporate strategy. The unique mix of business strategies employed by your company makes an indelible mark on your culture. The four chief business strategies are:

1) Operational Performance

2) Product Excellence

3) Market Growth

4) Financial Maximization


A start-up will have a very different culture than a Fortune 500 company. Where you are in the life-cycle of your business plays a big role.


All businesses compete for something. It could be sales, recruits, investment dollars, or market share. The prize you covet says a lot about your culture.


The ebbs and flows of the industry you’re in make a huge difference. In the promotional products world, the summer is slow and we’re scrambling for holiday orders in the fall.


Sitting on a ton of cash or barely scraping by? The resources that you have (or don’t have) make your company what it is.


Is your company open to change? Creating change is hard enough without internal obstacles. With them, it’s nearly impossible.


Great managers build great teams, perform when it counts, and develop the new talent needed to grow. Lousy ones just collect a paycheck and bug you about TPS reports.


Are you hiring the right people? Can they excel in your business? Making hiring mistakes is very expensive and damages company morale.


What capacity do you have for change? Can it be rapid or does it have to be slow? Planning processes dictate how flexible your business can be both now and in the future.


Are things on track or are you behind where you expected to be? How do you respond when things fall behind? In our experience, this is the critical deciding factor of what you’re corporate culture is.


Is your business driven by deadlines or is it more casual? It takes a certain person to thrive under a deadline. Hire carefully.

For more information on corporate culture read our articles on “The 3 Questions That Determine Cultural Fit” and “How To Maintain Your Company Culture While Hiring”.


"Your brand is your culture."

How To Maintain Your Company Culture While Hiring

Workplace culture is much more important than you think. Often, top candidates (especially younger ones) spurn higher-paying positions to work in an environment that “feels like home”. It’s critical that you sell your culture when courting top job candidates.

"Your brand is your culture."

Corporate culture comes from the top. It should be the ongoing contribution of the founders and/or the C-suite. However, time goes by. Founders leave or become disinterested. The C-suite has enough on its plate. Your company culture can end up in the utility closet next to the broken printer and reams of printer paper.

We’re not going to tell you how to create a strong corporate culture. Maybe in another blog post, but not this one. We’ll assume that you’ve put in the work to create a unique, dynamic culture that sets you apart.

This article will tell you how to protect and maintain your corporate culture while hiring and ensure new hires are a cultural fit.

Be open

When discussing your corporate culture with a candidate, you need to be transparent and upfront. It’s something to be proud of, not something to brush under the rug.

If you are interviewing an outgoing candidate and are concerned about his or her fit in your button-downed, reserved organization, you owe it to yourself, your organization, and the candidate to address your concerns.  Maybe the candidate is just chatty out of nervousness. Address it and save everyone a lot of problems down the road.

Set clear expectations

Take the time to put some things down in writing. You don’t want to end up playing a game of telephone with something as important as your corporate culture. Be clear about what behaviors and principles your business values. Don’t leave the candidate guessing.

Do as you say

This one is easy and if you don’t do it, you’re done for. You can’t sell your culture or effectively share it with a candidate if you don’t believe in it yourself. Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Many things that appear on formalized job documents don’t translate at all to daily job performance. Make it clear that your company culture can be seen and felt every day.

Recruit the right people

Drill HR or your recruiting team on your culture. Let them know how they can leverage it to get the attention of top candidates, but more importantly, make sure that they are finding candidates whose values are consistent with it. You can identify candidates who would be good cultural fits by spending time learning about their motivations, past behavior, and the type of culture they are seeking in their next role.

Hire leaders who buy-in

Leadership needs to be the defender of your corporate culture. They need to be on the same page and invested before they start. Extra time spent vetting, testing, and interviewing leadership candidates will pay dividends down the road.

Keep it personal

Develop relationships with your team. It’s much easier to share values, motivations, and goals with people when you know them well. The more your know about your employees the better you can relate to them.

Reinforce the community

Culture, like all things in the business world, won’t take care of itself. It’s a living, breathing, growing thing and you need to care for it. A golf outing, company picnic, or leadership retreat can go a long way in strengthening your culture and your team. Make the investment, it’s not optional.

For more information on corporate culture read our articles on “The 3 Questions That Determine Cultural Fit” and “What’s Your Corporate Culture Made Of?

What’s your corporate culture? How do you maintain it when making new hires?


Determine Cultural Fit

The 3 Questions That Determine Cultural Fit

Matthew Mueller

Clothier, Knot Standard, realized early in their development that finding talented employees who fit their culture would make the difference between success or failure. The stakes were high. Finding people who fit the culture was the only thing that mattered for them.

This focus on fit lead to the realization that three simple questions could tell them more about a candidate’s culture fit than anything else.

What do you do better than anyone else you know?

Hiring managers want to know what candidates are the best at. What areas are you exceptional in? An honest and direct answer shows strong confidence.

What are you poor at? What do you try to avoid whenever possible?

This question is highly related to the first. Managers already know what you excel at, but what are you bad at? Most positions are best suited for specialists. Knowing both what you’re great at and poor at gives the managers all the information they need to build a role around the candidate’s abilities.

Why would make you choose our company over another?

What drew you to our company in the first place? Do you have a passion for what we do? Can you identify with our corporate mission? This question is an indicator of a candidate’s long-term passion for and investment in the goals of the company.

These three questions will give you an excellent overview of the potential culture fit of any given candidate. Never skip these questions because culture fit is the best indicator of employee performance and longevity.

For more information on corporate culture read our articles on “How To Maintain Your Company Culture While Hiring” and “What’s Your Corporate Culture Made Of?


8 Signs That You Work in a Dysfunctional Office

Do You Work in a Dysfunctional Office?

Promotional products offices are crazy places. They have a unique dynamic that drives the culture, mood, and productivity of the sales reps and assistants who call the office home.  The tone of the office is set by the onsite sales manager, office manager, or regional executive who is responsible for providing a productive home for all employees. Unfortunately, negative intra-office dynamics can develop that detract from the productivity and camaraderie of the office.

In other words, sometimes offices suck.

Do you work in a dysfunctional office? Here are the eight warning signs:

Whispering and gossip between employees

Closed office doors

Lack of support from your manager

Staff who say, “That’s not my job.”

Ideas and creativity are not being shared between sales reps

Flare-ups of overwrought emotions, including anger, tears, frustration, and neglect

Shared office chores aren’t completed because some feel put upon

There is no sense of common mission or team spirit

You need to be aware of these signs of dysfunction and meet with company management to address your concerns. Ultimately the mission is to serve your clients.  If your office isn’t supporting your efforts, you owe it to yourself, your company, and your clients to create positive change.