Eeeeeek! Beware of These 9 Creatures From the Culture Crypt

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It’s the time of year when we all try to scare each other silly, so why not add a dose of fearsome reality to our Halloween horror-scape? We present to you some monstrous traits that can creep into any organization’s culture, all the more frightening because these characteristics are oh so real. But fear not: We also have some culture charms to keep employees, no matter what their job stage, motivated and monster-free.

1. The Half-Blind Prince

Senior leadership should ideally provide a clear direction for the company so that all employees can understand the overall purpose and mission of the organization. Without a clear North Star, or with an ambiguous one, employees will be lost and unable to collaborate toward a common goal. The impact can be severe, wounding not only the culture, but also business operations, communication flow, and business outcomes.

2. The Off-Kilter Killer

Even with a clear North Star, employees can lose their way if there their own work is not aligned with the company’s goals and objectives. Being able to see clearly how one’s performance and achievements are linked to the success of the larger organization gives a person meaning and purpose, inspiring them to make even greater efforts. It helps when people feel they are truly part of something special and that their contributions are genuinely valued. If misalignment kills this feeling, it may leave lower engagement and higher turnover in its bumpy wake.

3. The Demon of Disrespect

Treating people with dignity, courtesy, and kindness fosters a positive work environment where all people can be at their best. Mutual respect is a sign of a positive culture with a strong sense of organizational justice, professionalism, productivity, and growth. Without common expectations that all employees treat each other respectfully regardless of level, the Demon of Disrespect will win.

4. The Ethics Eater

Those who destroy virtue have no place in a high-performing work environment. Company and personal goals should be pursued through ethical means and with integrity. Beyond educating your employees on ethics and integrity, it is critical that your HR processes, practices, and materials clearly reflect and foster a culture that values these virtues.

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5. Mummy Is the Word

An organization that cloaks its decisions and senior leaders who keep nonconfidential information under tight wraps both raise the specter of mistrust. Employees can quickly lose trust in an organization that does not appropriately share information, and that trust is hard to gain back once it’s gone.

A high-performing organizational culture encourages transparent communication between senior leaders and employees. Organizations that want to promote a culture of trust should make communication more proactive, consistent, open, honest, and transparent.

6. Brains in a Box

It’s horrible to put a mind in prison. Make sure your culture of transparency not only means senior leaders share information with employees, but also means employees can feel safe to do or say what they think is best for the company. Getting employees involved in sharing their ideas and improving their own and their teams’ effectiveness is a powerful driver of engagement.

7. Vampire of Variety

An organization drained of diversity and inclusion can easily become weak and vulnerable to competitors. More diverse teams are more effective teams, leading to increased business performance overall. When a work culture lacks diversity of people, it will also lack diversity of thought and innovative problem-solving.

Just make sure your diversity is also inclusive. These concepts may be tied together, but they are not the same thing. SHRM defines inclusion as “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.”

8. The Safety Slayer

Some jobs carry inherent risks, such as manufacturing, utilities, and healthcare. In these environments especially, a work culture that promotes safety first is essential. However, all workplaces regardless of industry and role need to provide a healthy and safe work environment for each employee. In a corporate environment, this means there should be supports in place to reduce employee stress and improve employee well-being. High-stress environments may lead to increased absenteeism, increased health costs to the organization, and employees who cannot perform to their full potential.

9. The Working Dead

These disconnected, disgruntled employees arise from the swamp of stagnation your organization creates. A thriving organizational culture includes opportunities for employees to grow, develop, and reach their full potential supported by the company’s leaders and managers. Employees who are given compelling career and skill development opportunities will be both more likely to stay at the organization and more engaged in their everyday tasks.

Dr. Cathy Maraist is head of culture solutions at CultureIQ.

Read more in Organizational Culture

Dr. Cathy Maraist, head of culture solutions at CultureIQ, is responsible for leading the solutions group, which is focused on culture and employee engagement listening programs. She is passionate about providing industry-leading service to clients and offering the best solutions and service to drive positive organizational culture change and cultivate organizational culture. Maraist earned her PhD in industrial and organizational psychology from Tulane University and is a member of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the American Psychological Association.