Emotional Wellbeing



Mandy Kloppers

Corporate Culture: Chewed up by the corporate machine


Over the years I have become increasingly dismayed at the ways of the corporate world. A hedonistic way of life for those at the very top and a lot for pressure and bullying for those doing the main bulk of the work. I have spoken to many people who work in large corporations in banking, IT, law firms and so on, and they all say the same thing. There is a corporate ethic that encourages working long hours. There is very little cooperative and collaborative team work. Instead, many have reported constantly ‘looking over their shoulder, never quite sure who to trust. The reason for this, many clients tell me, is because their company promotes an environment of competition. The atmosphere leads to employees being subtly pitted against one another for recognition, status and  a larger salary. A culture of “one-upmanship” is promoted by many large corporations and goes against all the ideals I learned about during my training in Occupational Psychology.

Employees are an organisation’s most valued asset yet many are not treated accordingly. Happy employees means more productive and loyal employees. This seems a fairly simple conclusion, so why do so many companies ignore this? The right corporate culture sustains employee enthusiasm.

As some companies grow and expand, they begin to limit employee freedom. As a result, the employees involvement in key decisions is reduced and their impact on the business is ignored. It becomes a part of the culture. Employees go to work, they follow orders and end up helping someone else achieve their dream. The workers impact on the business is minimal and they become just another employee at just another company.For many people, life becomes one long boring blur: go into work, take orders, do the job, and wait for the clock to hit 5:00 P.M.

But this is not what resourceful and motivated employees want.

They want to have a voice and a meaningful impact on the company and its direction. They want to feel that anyone can win a debate with the most senior person at a company. They also want to be able to create tools for the company without the need for management approval.

 I found the following personal story from Anna Figiel which offers honest insight:

“My own decision to turn self-employed 13 years ago was driven by some truly disgraceful treatment at the hands of a large employer. I was scarred, cynical and never wanted to be at the mercy of such political savagery ever again.

With hindsight I recognise frustrating limitations to working practice, performance, communication and reward imposed by the corporate environment. I saw too countless decisions based on questionable logic, resulting in questionable outcomes.

Among my early clients were some disillusioned freelancers who had similarly been chewed up by the corporate machine – highly competent individuals who yet described themselves as “unemployable” as a result of their damaging experiences. People who were not prepared to tolerate the nonsense any more and who felt their face would no longer fit in.”

What is needed for a fulfilling corporate life:

1) Ownership

Employees need to feel that they have some sort of impact where they work and that their opinions and work will be taken into account.

2) Support

Employees work best when they work in a supportive environment. Where there is a friendly camaraderie.

3) Anti Stress Facility

Employee Assistance Schemes are useful in helping those employees who become stressed

4) Freedom

Companies that are clock watchers treat their employees in a patronising way which lowers morale. As long as the work gets done, employees (within reason) should be accountable for their time management.

5) Rewards/Incentives

Motivation can be ignited by offering incentives to hard working employees. This should be structured in such as way so as not to create an oppositional, competitive environment. Rather, instead of competition between employees, the incentives should be personally tailored to individual employees strengths.

6) Feedback

Allow opportunities for regular feedback from employees as to how they experience the work environment. Positive and negative feedback is important.

Effective managers understand that work enables most people to obtain something that fulfils them personally, thus impacting morale, motivation and quality of life. For each employee this fulfilment means something different. To some, happiness may come from a promotion or the ability to participate in a senior-client meeting. For others, fulfilment may mean ending a productive day at 5 p.m. so there’s more time to spend with spouses and children.

It is the leaders of the companies’ job to create the right corporate culture. Those that are good at people management and not just good at task management will be best suited to implementing a corporate culture that gets the best out of its employees. The company that values it’s employees will be the corporation that ends up beating their corporate competitors.

Mandy X







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