Workplace Culture

Workplace Culture is defined as beliefs and behaviors of how people act and govern in an organization, mainly how employees interact and communicate with one another. This is critically important to the health of the organization as the success and failure of the business depends on this. Employees are the life string and brand ambassadors of an organization.

If an employee feels uncomfortable or unhappy at work more often, chances are you are dealing with poor workplace culture. Nobody want to work in a place with a “toxic” culture. Besides having the company poorly rated by the employees , there would be high staff turnover, increasing staff complaint, high staff absenteeism, poor productivity, complaints of bullying and harassment and in extreme cases, costly legal suits.

A toxic culture is a result of many behaviors resulting from incivility at workplace and this can happen to any business scale. Big companies like Uber, Google and Volkswagen has been mentioned widely for toxic workplace.

Case Study

In Malaysia, the recent outburst in the social media of a giant telecommunication company, Maxis, whereby a Manager who was screaming at her employees for allegedly not hitting their sales target went viral. The words below were delivered by screaming at the two employees (one of the employee is pregnant), standing inches away and pointing finger at them.


  1. “ You sit down here and send the SMS now”,
  2. “Look at me, you want to get fired? Why can’t you do when I asked you to do”,
  3. “You …. what are you good at”.
(source: Reddit)

(source: Reddit)

Maxis has taken steps by suspending the manager for full investigation and widely mentioned this is not their workplace culture.

(source: Reddit)
(source: Reddit)

(source: Reddit)

One of the previous employee of Maxis has stepped in to comment her past experience with the same manager and also about the manager’s boss who has been implicated with sexual harassment behavior.


(source: Reddit)

(source: Reddit)

Words like bullying, discriminatory, harassment and dictatorial seems to describe the behavior of the manager. The Maxis scenario seems to be a toxic workplace culture for a period of time although Maxis has commented this is not their culture. This incident with Maxis is one of the many other examples of organizations that could be suffering with negative workplace culture in Malaysia. Every organization has a culture – what matters is whether they’re strong or weak!

WHY does toxic culture happens in an organization?

  • Everybody is busy doing their own thing and nobody cares about others or their surroundings
  • People speak when there is a need or use another platform to interact. Humanly face to face interaction is reduced
  • Office gossips and cliques system forms
  • Employees constantly working under pressure
  • Poor leadership or interaction culture
  • Lack of clarity or top-down direction

HOW to minimize toxic culture at workplace?

  • Leaders to simply to talk to employees on a regular basis or one-on-one to develop trust. Encourage open communication
  • Maximize exit interviews to get honest feedback and employees experience
  • Encourage team building and friendship support system at work
  • Repeat staff surveys regularly to notice what workplace culture that is improving or worsening
  • Leaders to offer assistance without judging , discriminating. Treat all fairly and be consistent
  • If you spot behaviors like bullying, micro management, gossiping, behaviors leading towards sexual harassment , attend to it immediately
  • Recognize staff efforts. Instill fun and reward programs

Business is hard and extremely busy today. Every organization is focusing to be market leaders. It is timely now for organizations to make workplace culture as a priority. If organizations wants to have long-term sustainable results it is important to understand that positive culture code needs to be aligned towards organizations goals and mission.

For 2019, re-assess your workplace culture. Make your workplace somewhere your staff want to be, instead of somewhere they have to be.