Cruel corporate cultures will not thrive for long: experts say

Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:26pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Companies with a corporate culture that degrades employees, pits them against each other and encourages workers to toil more for less money may flourish in the short term but the results are unlikely to last for long, management experts warn.

Abusive practices in the workplace will eventually take a toll in lost creativity, waste and employee turnover that could hit productivity and company profits.

"I don't think it is sustainable over the long haul," said Larry Johnson, a corporate culture expert and author. "There are a lot of companies that do very well by having a fun and exciting culture where you don't have to treat people like slaves or drive them against the wall."

American corporate culture came under the spotlight when the New York Times wrote an expose last month that described tech giant Amazon as a "bruising workplace." Many employees worked long hours, were criticized by managers, sabotaged by co-workers and dismissed in an annual culling to weed out the weak, the newspaper said.

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, challenged the depiction of the company he founded in 1994, saying it was an Amazon he did not recognize.

Amazon is not the first company that has been scrutinized for how it treats its employees, nor is the corporate culture it is accused of promoting unique.

Kim Cameron, a management professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, said any company that belittles its workers is limiting its growth and potential.

"It could grow and flourish far greater, from three to eight times more, by implementing positive practices," he added.   Continued...

A business man rides an escalator in the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai September 21, 2011. REUTERS/Aly Song