Apples and Culture


Apples and Culture Graphic

Employee job satisfaction can make or break a company's turnover and retention rate, but what does it do to the company culture? We have all heard the saying, "one bad apple can ruin the batch." It's not just true for apples; it's true for teams and organizations too. Think about it, when one teammate is in a bad mood, how easily does that rub off on others, and how does it reflect in their work?


I'm sure everyone has given the excuse or been given the reason "it was an off day for me" or "I was just having a bad day." People don't realize that these "off" days, bad moods, or "bad" days are a leading indicator of poor employee job satisfaction and can cause a rift in the company culture and environment. And let's face it, bad moods and off days never last just one day. Take Nick and Ronan, for example.


Nick is generally a good employee with no documented personnel issues. One day Nick comes into work in a bad mood and seems to be having an overall "off" day. On this day, Ronan asks Nick for some assistance with a project. Nick, because he’s in a bad mood, reacts negatively and refuses to help Ronan.


Nick's reaction strikes a nerve with Ronan, and he decides to make a mental note not to ask Nick for assistance anymore to avoid any future conflict. Ronan then asks Nancy for assistance instead who helps him but asks why Nick, the subject matter expert, did not assist with the final steps. Ronan explains to Nancy that Nick is in a bad mood and refused to help, so he felt it was best just to avoid Nick for a while. So, the project is taken care of, and all is good with the world, right? Seldom is this true.


The next day Nick comes into work and is feeling better. Mike sees Nick in the breakroom and asks how things are going and if he is feeling better. Confused, Nick asks Mike to explain the question. Mike lets it be known that Nancy said, "you were in a bad mood yesterday, and I just wanted to make sure you're doing better." This simple statement starts the "bad mood" and "off day" cycle all over again.


Different factors contribute to workplace satisfaction, one of which is coworker relationships. Think of how the issue between Nick and Ronan had so many various ramifications to the relationships between coworkers. This breakdown in relationships resulted in the entire team being disjointed and dissatisfied with their job because of the "one off day."


Company culture is not built in a single day, but it sure can be broken down in one. The "off day" cycle can generally lead to overall unhappiness and dissatisfaction in the workplace. So, what happens to the company culture if the entire team is unhappy? That’s right, the company culture then becomes unhappiness and resentment.


The important thing to realize is that employees are human; they will make mistakes, have bad days, good days, and sometimes come in with bad moods. Deal with the issues as soon as possible and deal with the cause, not the symptoms. Each issue has its own cause and sometimes requires different solutions. I'm not saying to take the human out of your employees; I'm saying we need to address the issue at the root before the bad apple ruins the batch.