The Top 23 Challenges of Culture in a Workplace


People are complex. A group of people even more so.

And often times, these complexities lead to the metaphorical “elephant in the room” – a problem, or problems we see, but don’t want to acknowledge. While it’s no surprise that an organization filled with people creates employee challenges, it’s also no surprise that people choose to ignore them.

And while we can create a list of employee challenges a mile long, below are the Top 23 Elephants in the room that we’ve encountered in our years of work and research.

Top Employee Challenges (or what we call, the Top 23 Elephants)

As you read through them, ask yourself, “Which 3 are taking up the most space in our organization?”

  1. I have employees who ask for a raise and haven’t done anything to deserve it.
  2. We work hard to please our employees, but it seems they’re never satisfied.
  3. My employees think I’m lining my basement with gold bricks.
  4. Honestly, I don’t think my employees care about the company.
  5. When problems arise, no one steps up to take responsibility.
  6. My employees only do what’s in their “job description” and nothing else.
  7. Several of our incentive programs have backfired.
  8. I have an employee who’s a rainmaker/superstar and s/he’s totally toxic.
  9. We have in-fighting between groups (almost to the point of spitballs over cubicles).
  10. We’re a family – dysfunctions included.
  11. Our employees hate change – even if it’s what’s best for them and the company.
  12. I’m amazed at the false rumors that show up in our company.
  13. I’ve recently lost one of my best people, and we shouldn’t have.
  14. I have to micromanage or nothing will get done the way it’s supposed to.
  15. We’re awful at getting reviews done on time or at all – everyone hates doing reviews.
  16. We’ve promoted fabulous producers into mediocre managers.
  17. I just don’t have the time to give people kudos and pats on the back.
  18. I don’t know how to acknowledge great work without a promotion or a raise.
  19. I’m the CEO, and sometimes I’m the last one to know when there’s a problem.
  20. We’re divided into “old” school and “new” school and never the twain shall meet.
  21. We used to have an incredible culture and we’ve lost the magic.
  22. It’s so hard to find good talent anymore (and yet my competition seems to).
  23. We’re growing so fast – it’s hard to bring all the new employees into the fold.

Do you see a pattern in your top 3 employee challenges?

By the way, we organized this list in the following manner:

  • Numbers 1-7 deal with entitlement and apathy
  • Numbers 8-13 deal with drama
  • Numbers 14-23 deal with leadership conundrums

Which elephants do you see on a regular basis? What’s your plan for bringing these employee challenges out into the light and solving them?

Click for a print-friendly copy of the Top 23 Elephants in the Room activity.

If you’re looking for help with your company’s culture, take a look at our Umbrella of Services.