Being an entrepreneur usually involves managing and inspiring a team of talented individuals. But how do know if your staffers are actually passionate about coming to work or are just putting on a brave face and complaining when you aren’t around? Check out this article for a few signs that your office atmosphere needs a makeover.

Designing a productive workplace is no easy gig. You need to make sure you hire the right people, create a company culture you’re proud of, and pay close attention to any problems and conflicts that arise along the way. However, despite your best efforts, things can sometimes go wrong. Poor management techniques, economic stress, widespread personal agendas – all these factors can affect your workers’ motivation and create an uncomfortable atmosphere at the office.

During the years, I had many friends complain about how unhappy they are at work. While sometimes their problems were strictly about their workload and performance, other times it was clear that management held the blame for souring the office atmosphere. Executives were more concerned with making a profit than with paying attention to what the staff is going through. When a disgruntled employee would voice a concern, they would cut them off. When people would start to quit, they would quickly hire new ones instead of trying to figure out how to boost employee retention.

No amount of perks can outweigh a toxic office environment, so instilling a more casual dress code or stocking up the kitchen with free snacks won’t have the desired effect, at least not in the long run. The only solution is to recognize the issues and address them head-on. Here are a few signs that your office is becoming toxic.

People Don’t Communicate Effectively

A successful leader knows how important it is to figure out what makes employees tick and to help them collaborate. Invest in building camaraderie between employees and help your team bond with team-building workshops and morale-boosting activities. Lack of cooperation and poor communication will quickly lead to missed deadlines and bad outcomes.

Also, if you notice that your employees don’t communicate, determine why. Are their inboxes always full? This may translate to missed messages. Maybe you can try an in-office chat option or invest in a private social network so they can keep in touch with more ease. Evaluate their workflow and come up with a more efficient communications system.


Mistakes occur in any office environment. When no one takes responsibility though and people are preoccupied with placing blames on others, things can quickly escalade. What’s worse, scapegoating often goes hand in hand with bullying. Make sure everyone’s job description is clear enough so everyone knows what their responsibilities are. This way, placing blame will be more difficult.

The Morale is Low

There’s little enthusiasm and joy around the office. Instead, employees seem to be in a bad mood frequently. They’re not proactive, they’re avoiding any type of team-bonding activity where attendance is not mandatory, they’re often late. These are all signs that they’re not enjoying the time they spend at work anymore. To fix the issue, the first thing you must do is address the problem as soon as possible. Have a chat with each of them in particular and inquire about their discontent. Ask them to help you come up with a few ideas on how to make things better. Again, communication is key.

At the same time though, make sure you have a contingency plan in place in case some of your top performers decide to leave. Losing a good employee can be tough on any enterprise, so it’s wise to assess the risk and find a solution before it’s too late. Wolfpac Solutions has a great article on how to craft a solid risk management plan. You can download it here.

Staffers Seem Stressed/Overwhelmed

If the work is so intense that there are basically no periods of downtime to allow staffers to recover, problems are likely to arise. When you notice that employees are stressed and feel overwhelmed on a regular basis, it may be time to bring in some new hires to ease their workload.


Gifted employees can sometimes be tempted to exhibit uncivil behavior that can be highly disruptive in the office. They feel like their contribution to the company’s bottom line is greater, so they can afford to act irresponsible and treat colleagues with disrespect without any consequence. If that happens, don’t turn a blind eye just because the perpetrator is a high performer. Instead, create a set of behavioral guidelines that apply to everyone.

If you notice any of these unhealthy practices, it’s time to come up with a strategy to revamp the workplace. Perform exit interviews to find out what went wrong, talk to your employees to learn more about their issues, or offer remedial coaching and training. If you need additional help, hire an organizational consultant. Keep in mind that there’s more to being an entrepreneur than making money. Your employees are the only ones able to help you get to the top. Make sure they’re happy and their productivity levels will skyrocket overnight.