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February 13, 2024

How Quiet Cutting Affects Company Culture

Categories:  Culture | Assessments
How Quiet Cutting Affects Company Culture

“A toxic culture is weeks in the making, years in the cleaning up.” – James Jackman

It seems we have swung full circle. No longer are HR headlines about quiet quitting; quiet cutting appears to be rearing its ugly head in 2024. So, what is quiet cutting anyway? Quiet cutting effectively allows companies to cut jobs and reduce labor costs without actually laying off workers. Put another way, it’s a way to dodge the negative press associated with layoffs. In this case, the devil is in the details.

In order to pull off quiet cutting, companies are “reassigning” workers in a way that intentionally sends mixed messages. HR may send an email to inform an employee that their current job role has been eliminated, but they are being reassigned to another job that often comes with a less prestigious title, lower pay, and more demanding workload. As you can imagine, this strategy leads to widespread fear, anger, confusion, and resentment among staff; creating a toxic work environment overnight

What is Company Culture?

Company culture is the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that create the regular atmosphere in a work environment. A healthy workplace culture is one where employee behaviors and company policies are aligned with the overall goals of the company, while also valuing the well-being of individuals.

How a Toxic Culture Hurts Organizations

A toxic organizational culture can have severe and detrimental effects on a business, impacting both its short-term and long-term success. When a workplace fosters toxicity, it erodes employee morale and engagement, leading to increased turnover rates and difficulties in attracting top talent. The pervasive negativity can hinder collaboration and teamwork, stifling creativity and innovation.

Employees in a toxic culture may experience higher levels of stress, burnout, and dissatisfaction, which can negatively affect their productivity and overall performance. This toxic environment can also manifest in poor communication, with employees hesitant to voice their concerns or ideas, hindering the free flow of information essential for problem-solving and decision-making. Furthermore, a toxic culture can tarnish a company's reputation, making it challenging to retain customers and stakeholders.

MIT Sloan Management Review published a survey in 2022. Researchers determined that "a toxic corporate culture is by far the strongest predictor of industry-adjusted attrition and is ten times more important than compensation in predicting turnover."

Ultimately, the cumulative impact of a toxic culture can lead to decreased employee loyalty (higher turnover), hindered organizational growth, and potential financial losses, which is why it’s imperative for businesses to prioritize a healthy and positive work environment.

How Can Companies Ensure They Don't Create a Toxic Company Culture?

Creating a positive and healthy company culture requires intentional efforts from leadership and employees alike. Here are some strategies that companies can adopt to ensure they don't create a toxic work environment:

  1. Define and communicate values. Clearly articulate the company's values and ensure that they align with a positive work culture. Communicate these values regularly to employees.

  2. Leadership role modeling. Leaders should embody the values and behaviors they expect from employees. Consistent modeling of positive behavior sets the tone for the entire organization. For example, a family friendly company value should be matched by a strong parental leave program.

  3. Encourage open communication. Foster a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, and ideas. This includes regular feedback sessions and avenues for anonymous feedback.

  4. Establish clear expectations. Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and expectations for employees. Uncertainty and ambiguity can lead to stress and frustration.

  5. Promote work-life balance. Encourage a healthy work-life balance by respecting employees' time off, discouraging excessive overtime, and allowing flexible work arrangements when possible.

  6. Provide opportunities for professional growth. Invest in employee development and provide opportunities for learning and growth. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and loyalty.

  7. Promote inclusivity and diversity. Create an inclusive and diverse workplace by embracing different perspectives and backgrounds and hiring a diverse group of people. This can lead to a more innovative and supportive environment.

  8. Recognize and reward positive behavior. Acknowledge and reward employees for their hard work and positive contributions. Recognition can boost morale and reinforce positive behavior.

  9. Address conflict promptly. Deal with conflicts and interpersonal issues swiftly and fairly. Provide resources and training on conflict resolution for employees and managers.

  10. Establish a zero-tolerance policy for harassment. Clearly communicate a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination. Ensure that employees feel safe reporting incidents, and conduct thorough investigations when complaints arise.

  11. Encourage team building. Foster a sense of community and teamwork through team-building activities. This can strengthen relationships among employees and improve collaboration.

  12. Provide mental health support. Offer resources and support for mental health, such as employee assistance programs, counseling services, or stress reduction initiatives.

  13. Regularly assess company culture. Conduct regular surveys or assessments, such as the Employee Passion Survey, to gauge employee satisfaction and gather feedback on the company culture. Use this information to make necessary adjustments.

  14. Promote transparency. Be transparent about company decisions, changes, and future plans. This helps build trust among employees.

  15. Encourage autonomy and empowerment. Allow employees to take ownership of their work and encourage autonomy. Empowered employees are more likely to feel engaged and satisfied.

Creating a positive company culture is an ongoing process that requires commitment and continuous effort. By prioritizing the well-being of employees, fostering open communication, and promoting a supportive environment, companies can minimize the risk of developing a toxic work culture.

What Can the Employee Passion Survey Teach Us?

Employee engagement is not enough! If you want to start building a high-performance organizational culture that your competitors cannot match, you need passionate employees who are focused, engaged, and committed to doing their best in everything they do. Passionate employees deliver exceptional value to your customers.

The Employee Passion Survey shows business leaders how passionate their employees really are, which can provide a launching point for improvements to company culture.

The survey measures employee passion on two levels: passion for the job and passion for the organization. Survey results cover employee’s needs, the levels of passion across the team or entire organization, and the Values that Build Trust.

The Employee Passion Survey can be administered for a team, department, or an entire organization.

The Employee Passion Survey is part of the Trust Inside Assessments offered in affiliation with Integro Leadership Institute.

Foster an inclusive, aligned, and inspiring culture—one that great employees want to join.

Organizations benefit from a positive company culture just as much as workers do. A positive company culture can offer numerous benefits to organizations – from increased retention to higher productivity and even improved public image - contributing to overall success and sustainability.

If you’re wondering how your company culture is doing, we are ready to help you assess employee passion through the Employee Passion Survey. Contact us today to get started!


Lori & James

Lori Heffelfinger & James Jackman


Donald Sull, Charles Sull, and Ben Zweig. Toxic Culture Is Driving the Great Resignation. 1/11/2022. Accessed 1/25/2024.

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