It may not be because of something you did or didn’t do.

Kristi is a storyteller from the United States, whose curiosity about the world and other cultures has led her to explore far-flung places and unsung corners on five continents, including the Middle East, camera in hand. Her degrees in journalism and nonprofit management have inspired her to never stop learning. She is most passionate about tech startups, gender equity, and the future of work.

You’ve checked all the boxes: you’re following your passion, you’ve gained valuable expertise, and you know what you want out of your career. (Hey…you’re ahead of most of us. Well done!)

Yet, if you find that you’re not waking up energized for work with a spring in your step, it may not be because of something you did or didn’t do.

The culture of your company might be bringing you down.

We’ve all worked for an employer whose company culture was less than ideal. Some of us have endured what psychologists might label ‘extremely toxic environments’.

Others among us may have initially leaped for joy at job offers from reputable firms or emerging startups that boasted fantastic perks—only to be bummed out by indifferent bosses, cutthroat coworkers, or a complete lack of advancement opportunities.

Add to that the fact that you’ve likely experienced sexism or other forms of discrimination on the job at least once, and you can see how strongly culture can shape your professional experience.

It’s true that no workplace is perfect. What matters most is how companies shape their environments and encourage progress, while addressing any issues. At the heart of this is communication: the cornerstone of company culture.  

I’m not talking about department announcements or office traditions like Casual Fridays. Company culture most certainly shouldn’t be limited to or controlled by those in ‘people ops’ or marketing, either. Rather, it’s a combination of more complex, communication-centric actions and behaviors that make up your company’s cultural ‘DNA’.

Company culture includes:

  • The articulation of an organization’s values, mission and vision and how they’re shared. 

    A framed manifesto is only valuable if it’s discussed and demonstrated by employees’ behavior.

  • How a company maintains transparency (or not) in business decisions. 

    Is ‘open door’ policy for real, or are employees left speculating about what’s happening next?

  • The leadership team’s managerial styles.

    Open body language, framing feedback constructively, seeking buy-in and mentoring others are actions either exhibited by leadership…or not.

  • How failure and success are characterized internally.

    Is a marketing campaign without traction a total disaster, or is it instead a learning opportunity for your next launch?

  • The tone of what you hear, see and read from your colleagues.

    What recurring phrases or narratives are used to describe the company, its products/ services or its teams?

  • How your materials, processes or tools demonstrate efforts toward inclusion. 

    Do infographics only feature those of certain demographics, or, for example, are your team’s preferred apps accessible to all?

  • Whether a company acknowledges life outside its four walls (or beyond its remote networks). 

    Was the Arab Spring recognized, or do we only talk about revolution in reference to the Beatles?

  • Active listening to encourage idea sharing and innovation.

    Are meetings a place where conversations take place or are they dominated by a few voices?

  • Where flexibility falls on the priority spectrum.

    Does your company embrace non-traditional working arrangements that accommodate parents, caregivers, or those who travel frequently on the job?

For companies seeking prosperity in the new world of work, culture is taking center stage. If you’re leading a company based out of MENA, you’d do well to consider the above—not only for your bottom line or to discourage job-hopping, but to cultivate your most important asset—your people.