The Real Business Cost of a ‘Toxic’ Company Culture


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Vaughan Reed

MD, Labyrinth Solutions Ltd

‘Switched-off, checked-out and disengaged’ is an accurate description of many employees in many companies, across multiple sectors… the impact on company cultures is immense and some have realised that the coston productivity, absenteeism and other performance indicators is too great. Above all, they have lost the sense of ‘connectedness’ in their workplaces. Time for change. Time to consider the human impact of technological change and address it.

Until recently, companies have overlooked how the changing work environment, through digital advancement, has created communication challenges that traditional methods are not equipped to handle. How antiquated is information on a staff noticeboard; how inundated are we with emails; how much workplace clutter is created with posters around the office and how easy is it for rumours to spread when people hear inaccurate information via unofficial sources?A platform for consistent, effective communication has been missing – no wonder employees feel uninformed!

What does a healthy corporate culture look like?

One thing driving a great company culture is open and transparent communication. This does not happen by accident; a team of inspiring leaders help their employees understand how they fit into the bigger picture through a deliberate communication strategy. An essential ingredient of an excellent communication strategy is effective targeting. Understanding an audience, knowing the right messages, timing and methods of delivering them are all critical in getting employees to take notice and ‘give a damn’.

Companies with a healthy culture are the ones who don’t just keep doing what they’ve always done; they recognise the need to move away from the traditional means of communication to tell their stories more effectively and meet the demands of their ‘increasingly digital’ audiences. They know that visual communications are more powerful and understand the connections between communication, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, productivity and profitability.

There IS another way to re-connect, re-engage and inspire

Some companies are now paying more attention to what we know about the power of visual communication and are using it to improve their internal communications outcomes.

Here are a few considerations that create compelling reasons for companies to switch to more visually-based communication methods to inform, motivate and engage their employees:

  • 93% of all communications are non-verbal according to Professor of Psychology, Albert Mehrabian
  • Studies show that people remember only 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read and 80% of what they see and do
  • Visuals are processed tens of thousands of times faster than text
  • We live in a society where we are increasingly tuned-in to images and videos on social media,so there is an explosive growth in visual forms of communication

The use of symbols and similar visual communication tools date way back; to times when cavemen communicated through wall paintings.Although visual communication is by no means a new phenomenon outside the workplace, it has received little specific attention from employers wanting to tell their stories and get their messages across to employees until recently.

Why would you expect 20th Century modes of communication to be effective in a workplace where employees’ everyday lives are occupied with 21st Century technology that delivers information visually, instantly and in small bites that grab and hold their attention? Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn – how could the widespread use of these things not create an appetite for organisations to change the way they communicate to their employees and achieve the cut-through they desire?

Digital era calls for a shift towards ‘visible and visual communications

‘Excited’ is the best way to describe how clients feel when they discovered Vibe, a visual communications platform developed by Auckland-based tech company, Labyrinth Solutions.

Finally, they had found a platform to mimic the impact of the visual, bite-size, instant messages audiences experience through social media.Vibe promised to be ‘an innovative way to transform the way companies share knowledge, tell stories and inspire workforces’ and so far, it is doing just that by elevating its employee communications – making them more visible.Vaughan Reed, Labyrinth’s Managing Director, confirms this visibility and impact is exactly what Vibe was created to do – in fact, “Amplifying Employee Communications” is Vibe’s tagline.

“Our clients have recognised the need to develop their culture and create a more connected, productive environment where employees care not only for themselves and the work they do, but also about each other and their environments. These better connections are external as well as internal and improving the customer experience is a key measure of improving their company culture.”

“One of the things our clients love about Vibe is how flexible it is to work in a variety of settings – our clients’ workforce is generally spread across the country and are very mobile, so the challenge to create unity is complex. Vibe allows us to overcome a lot of those communication hurdles.” explains Vaughan.

Digital transformation is spreading far and wide

Vibe is leading the digital transformation of visual internal communications throughout New Zealand and beyond, as Labyrinth has the vision to be the global pioneers of visual communications. Organisations are now recognising that a vital part of engaging employees in the workplace is by telling their stories via engaging visual communications. Vibe is catching on, or you could even say ‘amplifying’, amongst those who truly value effective communication and wish to avoid a toxic culture at all cost.


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