Friday, 15 December 2023 09:22

Company Culture: Are You the Problem?

As we prepare to turn the page on another year, it's customarily an opportune time for internal reflection. Looking back on 2023, our experience of the challenges faced by UK businesses mirror the ones we have seen throughout the 23 years of HR Champions’ existence. Namely attracting and retaining good staff and maintaining an engaged and healthy workforce that demonstrates positive behaviours and attitudes.

It’s easy to question and often blame various external factors when issues arise. This year for example we could point the finger at the aftermath of Covid and the Cost of Living Crisis. However, a critical, introspective question remains: As a business owner, senior manager or leader, are you the problem?

The success and prosperity of a business hinges not only on strategies and goals but significantly on its culture. The culture of a business is the embodiment of its values, beliefs, and behaviours, and it is profoundly influenced by its leaders. Often unknowingly, leaders can be at the very heart of issues in their organisations.

Consider the impact of leadership style on employee morale and retention. Leadership that lacks empathy, transparency, or fails to empower and trust employees can engender a disengaged workforce. Various business reports return similar statistics. Disengaged employees have a 37% higher absenteeism rate, 18% lower productivity, and 15% lower profitability. Thus, a leader's inability to foster a supportive and inclusive environment can directly affect staff retention and productivity.

Leaders set the tone for the organisation. If they exhibit traits like micromanagement, lack of recognition, or poor communication, it can trickle down through the ranks, generating widespread negativity and poor morale. Worse still is when leaders consider themselves above the standards of behaviour they expect from their employees. ‘Do as I say not as I do’, as the saying goes. This behaviour will only generate an environment that is galaxies away from one that is conducive to retaining talent or inspiring positive employee behaviour.

Reflecting on personal shortcomings is not a sign of weakness but of strength. It involves acknowledging areas like poor communication, self awareness of your biases or what holds you back, failure to provide clear direction or not recognising employee achievements. These are not mere oversights but potential root causes of deeper organisational issues.

Self-reflection doesn’t necessarily need to conclude with self-reproach. Instead, it should be a platform for change. As we approach the new year, leaders should resolve to develop a more empathetic leadership style that incorporates self-awareness and accountability, fosters open communication, and creates a culture of recognition and empowerment. This shift can dramatically transform the workplace atmosphere, boosting the morale and productivity of the existing workforce and making it more conducive to attracting and retaining top talent.

There’s no silver bullet for generating a positive culture it’s not a solo endeavour. It requires leaders to engage with their teams, seek feedback, and be willing to implement changes based on that feedback. It's a continuous process of learning and adaptation. You must strive to understand your people; their ideas and aspirations, motivators and challenges. Both in the workplace and on a personal level.

Knowing how to do this isn’t a given. You may require some training to know what to look for and how to build a strategy to implement change.

So, as we reflect on the past year and look ahead, we challenge business leaders to take a good long introspective look at themselves and ask, "Am I the problem?". The answer might not always be comfortable, but it’s a necessary step towards creating a positive and thriving business culture. By acknowledging and addressing their shortcomings, leaders can give themselves the opportunity to improve themselves, thus paving the way for a more engaged, productive, and loyal workforce. As we welcome the new year, let it be with a renewed commitment to leadership that fosters a culture of growth, respect, and positivity.

We’re here to help. You can call us for a direct conversation on 01452 331331 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We’re also running a number of free webinars and events during 2024 designed to motivate and inspire businesses into positive action. Keep an eye on our events page and look out for our weekly email updates.


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HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

We deliver excellent management and soft skills training suitable for all organisational levels. We are ILM and City & Guild accredited and Ken Blanchard approved.  





We are located in Gloucester in the West of the UK close to the M4 and M5 corridors. For a precise map and directions find us on Google Maps

We have clients all over the UK but predominantly within about an hour's drive time of our offices; in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Bristol and Swindon & Wiltshire.