Company Culture: Dealing with Workplace Problems

Today's blog will look at what you can do to combat poor company culture in the manufacturing workplace

It's time for all businesses to shift into the future of work.

Embracing hybrid and remote work strategies or adding new technology to a food manufacturing roadmap is only part of the plan. Business leaders also need to deliver the right environments to support, empower, and motivate their staff.

Currently, 8.2Million employees in the U.K. still feel they're being discriminated against based on gender alone. On top of that, there are countless other inequality issues in the workplace, leading to significant challenges for team members in your manufacturing company.

Today's food manufacturing employees have more power than ever before.

What's more, new guidelines and regulations are being implemented all the time to protect anyone who may feel discriminated against in the workplace.

Today's blog will look at what you can do to combat poor company culture in the manufacturing workplace.

Let's dive in.

Defining a Difficult Workplace Culture

Company culture is the term used to refer to the attitudes and behaviours of a company and its treatment of its employees. A problematic manufacturing culture is an environment that may make you feel harassed, unhappy, or discriminated against in the workplace.

According to studies from Deloitte, poor company culture isn't just uncomfortable; it can often be a dealbreaker for today's talent. In recent years, employees have become less accepting of poor cultural practices and more confident in their ability to stand up and walk away from what they don't want.

What's more, new generations entering the workforce have led to shifts in employment priorities. Gen Z staff members rank a positive culture as the most critical workplace consideration, above salary or benefits.

Increasingly, business leaders are discovering toxic workplace culture prevents their team members from thriving and drives existing employees away.

In a skills-short environment where food manufacturing talent is becoming increasingly difficult to access, every individual employee has an opportunity to help shape the culture of their workplace.

By standing up against improper practices, speaking out, and learning how to navigate the culture of your company environment, you can make the manufacturing workplace more appealing for both you and your colleagues.

Signs of a Toxic Company Culture

Problematic workplaces come in a range of shapes and sizes.

Some problems are apparent, like discrimination against certain people in the workforce or a leader who refuses to listen to their employees. For other issues, you might need to look a little deeper to find out what makes you feel uncomfortable in your manufacturing environment.

An excellent way to avoid problems with company culture from day one is to look for signs of tension during the interview stage when you're first introduced to the company.

You can even ask questions during the interview to pinpoint cultural issues, such as:

- What are the company's core values? A lack of core values means there's no central compass available to guide the employees and the leaders in the business. If everyone in a team has different values or a different view of what the company is trying to achieve, this can often lead to conflict and clashing work styles.

- What kind of management styles do you use? There are various management forms and leadership styles embraced by business leaders today. Some take authoritative management styles, giving a lot of direction with tiny leeway for autonomy. While this might work for some employees, it can be stifling to others.

- How frequently do teams change? A high level of turnover within a team is a good sign something isn't right. If the company is constantly advertising for new staff members, look into reviews and testimonials on sites like Glassdoor to see what other employees don't like.

- How will my performance be measured? This question asked in an interview shows you how you can make the right impression during your initial months of employment. Still, it also lets you see what kind of things business leaders value, like attention to detail or intuition. You can use this question to get an insight into if the business is a good fit.

- How are issues resolved in this workplace? Finding out how issues between co-workers are resolved and avoided is an excellent way to get a sense of company culture. An interviewer may also give you an insight into what sort of issues you might face with your team.

During an interview, you may not be able to get a comprehensive insight into everything wrong with a food manufacturing culture. Many hiring managers will be working hard to paint the best possible picture of their company. With that in mind, consider speaking to staff members in the business or looking online for reviews left by previous employees.

Potential signs of 'toxic' company culture can include:

- People are overworking consistently and have no sense of work-life balance.

- Lack of positive reviews or insights into the company on review forums.

- Absence of promotional opportunities within the business (shows a lack of investment in employees and perhaps minimal training opportunities).

- Irregular acknowledgement or poor rewards for high-quality employee work.

- No commitment to giving back to the community or any ethical programs.

- Signs of unfriendly competition between team members.

- Cliques or specific groups of employees form within teams.

How to Deal with Common Cultural Problems

Common cultural problems, like constantly feeling pressured to work outside of your required hours or being asked to perform tasks or projects not appropriate for your manufacturing position, can be easier to deal with than you'd think.

The first step is observing the environment you're working in. Ask yourself what kind of people in your management group you can approach if you have an issue and which people are likely to respond positively.

Next, capture as much evidence of the problem as you can to highlight the severity of the issue to your manager.

When dealing with common cultural problems, remember to:

- Do your research: Make sure you're approaching the right person, and check employee guidebooks and policies for any insights on existing methodologies used to address problems in the company.

- Establish boundaries: Be clear with what you're willing to accept and what you're not. For instance, you can't force your manager to make everyone in your team like you, but you can refuse to deal with discriminatory behaviour or harassment.

- Be willing to speak up: Change can only happen when someone speaks out about a problem. Collecting evidence and making a case might seem daunting, but it can be the first step toward a positive change for your team.

Let's take a closer look at some of the most significant issues which might create a negative company culture:

- Bullying at work

- A poor first-line manager

- Discrimination and harassment

Harassment and Bullying at Work: Do You Work with a Bully?

Bullies aren't exclusive to the food manufacturing sector.

There are problematic people in virtually every industry, but bullying at work isn't something you need to tolerate. If you're repeatedly insulted by other co-workers, pushed out of essential tasks, and criticised, you must take a stand.

If you are a victim of bullying, you're not alone. Around 23% of the British workforce say they've been bullied at work, while in a survey of over 2000 U.K. based employees, over 12% say they struggle to make friends in the workplace.

The first step in dealing with harassment and bullying at work is deciding how severe the problem is.

If you think you don' get along with another person, you can mostly ignore their behaviour and stay out of their way. However, the following signs indicate the problem needs more attention:

- You dread going to work and interacting with the other person.

- Your colleague is making it challenging to connect with other people in your team.

- You constantly feel like you're standing up for yourself.

- The actions of another person are causing you to feel unwell, intimidated or stressed.

- You're taking more time off work because of a bully.

How to deal with a Bully

If you recognise the bullying, you might see that person's issue as a problem that needs to be dealt with; you can overcome the problem by standing up for yourself and setting boundaries.

Start with setting clear limits on what you will not tolerate from a bully. For instance, you might ignore a person's off-hand remarks or write them off as part of that person's character, but you might not be willing to let another person take credit for your work.

Next, decide your course of action. Is the problem significant enough that you need to take it to a manager or another member of staff, or can you speak to the bully yourself? It can be helpful to confront both them and their behaviour directly. Some people are so unaware they have no idea about their impact, as they may not be aware their behaviour is harmful.

The following ideas will help you to address the issue:

- Document instances of bullying: Collecting evidence of the bullying or harassing behaviour is an excellent way to demonstrate the behaviours you won't tolerate. This can also be helpful if your bully denies doing certain things when you address their behaviour with a manager. The more documentation you have, the better.

- Please speak to your colleagues: It may be worth discussing your experiences with your co-workers, as they could be targets of the same bullying experiences. These co-workers can help you document evidence of the bully's behaviour and assist with building a more robust case for H.R. A joint approach can be more successful than going alone.

- Confront the bully: Speak to the bully about the behaviours you're unhappy with and why they're problematic for you. Outline your boundaries and let them know that you will take the matter further if they do not rectify their actions.

Management Issues: Identifying a Poor First Line Manager

Similarly to bullies, poor managers can appear in virtually every business environment, no matter where you work in the food manufacturing industry. Research constantly shows that people in the modern workforce are more likely to leave because of a poor manager than anything else.

There are various reasons why you might clash with your manager. Some managers choose favourites among their team and discriminate against others. In some cases, they simply don't give the team members enough direction or feedback when they need it.

The first step in dealing with the situation is making sure your manager is the problem.

Before you try to fix your terrible manager, ask yourself what is happening. If they've called you up about issues several times in the last couple of days, this might be a sign you aren't performing.

Evaluate the situation objectively and ask yourself if your boss is making life difficult for you or simply doing their best in the circumstances.

Here are some valid reasons why you might need to report your  manager:

- They're constantly bullying people: If they create a hostile work environment by acting aggressively or insulting you and your co-workers, this creates a toxic environment where no one will be able to do their best work.

- They're harassing people: Harassment should never is tolerated in any manufacturing workplace. If the leadership in your workplace is harassing someone based on their gender, sexuality, or even their race, it's essential to seek out the appropriate just because of help.

- They're doing something illegal: Just because your manager is higher in the corporate food chain than you doesn't mean, they can get away with anything. You have the right to stand up and inform the proper authority.

What to do if You Have a Poor Manager

If, after looking at the situation carefully, you establish your manager is the problem, you can begin to look into why their behaviour is problematic and what you can do about it.

For instance, if your manager's style clashes with yours, you may need to adjust how you approach your tasks in the manufacturing landscape or look for a new role somewhere else.

Here are some ways to deal with a problematic manager:

Look for ways to help keep your manager happy: If you like your job but are not satisfied with your relationship with your manager, consider improving that connection. Examine your manager's leadership style and find out what kind of things make them happy and what don't. Adjusting your behaviour could be all it takes to turn a bad manager into a great workplace friend.

Set boundaries: As with all forms of workplace culture problems, it's important to have boundaries regarding what you're willing to accept from a manager. You need to be willing to take negative feedback from any leader. However, you don't have to accept the use of discriminatory language or any instances of harassment.

Know your options: If you get to the point where you need to report your manager, it's essential to know the procedure. Check your employee handbook if you have one for guidance here. There are also manufacturing forums and regulatory bodies that might be able to help you if you're having an issue at work.

Try not to let it influence your work: Focus on continuing to deliver the best result possible. This ensures when you present the issues you have with your manager to the leaders at the company, they can see you're doing everything you're supposed to be. Work to anticipate the tasks your manager wants you to do ahead of time and take their feedback to heart, even if they sometimes deliver it too harshly.

Collect evidence: As with examples of workplace bullying and other instances of poor company culture, it's good to have proof of inappropriate behaviour you can take into any official proceeding.

While it may be challenging to stand up to your manager, it's important to remember you have the right as an employee to be treated uncertain.

Discrimination at Work: What are Your Options?  

DEI (Diversity Equity and Inclusion) initiatives and strategies for ensuring equality at work are becoming increasingly common. Today'sbusiness leaders know they need to treat all employees fairly.

However, there are still significant problems with discrimination out there. The recent survey of 2000 U.K. workers we mentioned earlier revealed that more than 36% of U.K. adults report experiencing workplace discrimination.

If you are experiencing discrimination at work, you may be deliberately overlooked for project work opportunities or promotion. In addition, you could be left out of group meetings or even be treated more harshly than your colleagues. Discrimination can include insulting and bullying behaviour from other staff members and issues of harassment.

Discrimination can also be related to many factors. If you have ever felt any of the following factors have made life difficult for you work, you could be a victim of discrimination:

- Race

- Sexuality

- Age

- Gender

- Lifestyle

- Disability

Your human rights in the workplace mean you have the option to stand up and report your manager or any employee who demonstrates discrimination.

Before you report an instance of discrimination, it's worth reading through the guidelines provided by the government in your area for identifying harassment and discrimination.

The law in the U.K./Australia dictates you can report discrimination in your workplace if you are treated differently based on your age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. There is also support for pregnant women who are discriminated against due to their current condition.

What can you Do to Fight Discrimination?

As with all examples of poor workplace culture, it's best to start with relevant documentation about the issues of discrimination you're facing.

Once you have the correct information, you can decide whether toof to complain informally to your employer or raise a grievance using your employer or your official grievance procedures. If your employer is responsible for your unfair treatment, you will also be able to claim to the employment tribunal in the U.K., outlining your situation.

If taking the issue to your employer doesn't solve the problem, you can also look into working with groups like the Citizens Advice Bureau in the U.K. or speaking to your union representative if you are part of a food manufacturing union.

If the discriminatory behaviour was against equality law, you could also seek advice from a legal professional about taking your employer to court. However, this is usually considered a last resort for most people dealing with discrimination.

Take Back the Power In The Current Manufacturing Marketplace

Today's manufacturing employees have more power to protect themselves from discriminatory behaviour, harassment, bullying, and poor company culture. If you're dealing with an issue that makes it challenging to feel comfortable and confident at work, the guidelines above should help you overcome them.

After all, poor company culture doesn't just make you feel unhappy at work; it can also make it difficult to conceal yountrate, making it harder to accomplish your goals and deliver the best results.

Sometimes, addressing the issue with a manager or even taking the problem to a tribunal helps.

However, it's also worth knowing when the problems in your workplace make your current job more trouble than it's worth.

Suppose you don't see a future in your current career because of the manufacturing cultural issues you're facing. In that case, the best option could be to reach out to a food manufacturing recruitment company like ourselves.

We can highly likely help you secure a new role in the current hiring landscape. While some companies refuse to work on their company culture, many others build workplaces that support, develop, and encourage their employees to do their best work.

Most importantly, your food manufacturing recruitment team can get to know you and your values, so they can find more easily find potential job opportunities with a culture that matches your needs.

If you think the company culture in your workplace might be beyond saving, reach out to the team at Food Recruit recruitment today to start looking for the cultural fit you deserve.

By Scott Williams

Director & Owner

I’m an independent owner of Food Recruit. Passionate about the Food Manufacturing industry, having spent time as a Supply Chain Manager and Business Development Manager for two of the UK’s largest meat importers.

High Care, Low Care, Chilled and Ambient I have worked across all markets, including B2B, Foodservice, Wholesale and Retail.

I fell into recruitment in 2016 to start a Food & Drink desk in a long-standing Engineering Recruitment business in the West Midlands.

Progressing on to Business Development Manager, covering multiple markets before starting my specialist food manufacturing agency in September 2020, in the middle of the pandemic.

Phone: 01384 470822
Email: hello@food-recruit.com

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