Managing the Workplace: How to Cast Out a Culture of Fear

Running a business through the recession and into a stagnant and uncertain economy is tough. Many companies in Miami Lakes and across the U.S. have had to lay off staff just to survive. While doing so may have saved the company, it can also create a culture of fear in the workplace, i.e. employees don’t know from one day to the next whether they’ll have a job.

As a result, employees begin operating out of a sense of trepidation, rather than out of motivation or loyalty to the company and its vision. Mistakes are made, creativity is lost, independent thinking goes out the door, and the company’s bottom line suffers. So what can you do? First, evaluate whether your culture is being overrun by fear.

Here are some signs to look out for:

  • A fixation on the numbers, rather than on the value employees bring to the organization.
  • An intense and unhealthy sense of competition between employees (e.g. backstabbing and tattling).
  • Unwillingness among employees to share information and ideas.
  • Employees who are more concerned with perception than results. For instance, staying late just to appear busy and dedicated.
  • Rewarding or promoting employees who go out of their way to flatter the boss, rather than rewarding and promoting the most qualified employees.

Now that you know some of the signs that fear is taking over your workplace, here are some steps you can take to cast it out and create a culture of productivity, creativity, and recognition:


It sounds simple, but by opening the lines of communication you can achieve some dramatic results. In uncertain times, employees may be too afraid to speak up because they don’t want to draw any attention to themselves. As a result, they may keep their mouths shut when they see a mistake or a problem that could hurt the company. To improve communication, hold monthly meetings or lunches and encourage your employees to offer ideas and feedback on how to improve.

Take action.

You may say you want to improve the culture, but if your actions don’t support your words, then your employees will lose trust in you. So be open, be honest, and always follow through. If there’s a reason you can’t deliver on a promise, explain why.

Evaluate company policy.

Oftentimes, fear or a lack or productivity can stem from company policy. Some companies have so much red tape involved in the daily running of the business, that employees feel helpless and unable to get things done efficiently. As a result, they lose motivation and simply do “enough” to get by. That said, you shouldn’t eliminate all your policies and procedures; but it may be time to re-evaluate them. When you do so, make sure you ask your employees for input on how to change things for the better. Those monthly meetings are the perfect time!

If part of your workplace culture problems stem from the need for extra help – but you don’t want to add to your overhead – Future Force Personnel can help. Since 1992, our Miami Lakes staffing firm has helped thousands of clients find qualified and reliable talent on a temporary, short-term, and seasonal basis. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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