It’s nigh on impossible to find the perfect workplace in this day and age, but it’s important to know how to spot a toxic workplace and get out of there fast. The longer you stick around in a stressful, unpleasant workplace, the harder it is to leave. Also, the longer you do stay the more damage it’s doing to you and your mental health.
A toxic workplace can have extremely negative impacts on your life, you sleep less, stress more and your mental health could fall to an all-time low.
So, what are the signs that you are working in a toxic workplace? First, let’s see how to spot an unhealthy working environment through your co-workers’ behaviors.
How does a toxic workplace affect its employees?
1. They don’t care about their work
Employees are responsible for making sure they do their work well and on time. It’s part and parcel of working. But in a toxic work environment, they may regularly miss deadlines because they simply just don’t care about their work. If you’re feeling as though you just can’t be bothered to give your job your all, you might want to think about a new job or even a career change.
2. Recurrent fighting amongst employees
Whether it’s a workplace or a relationship, constant fighting is never a good sign. A company that allows arguing to get out of hand does not care about the mental health of its employees. It won’t be a nice place to work in, even if you aren’t involved in the fighting.
Disagreeing is normal and often encouraged but full-blown arguments are awkward and uncomfortable and hinder your ability to work effectively.
3. A negative workplace energy
The energy of the workplace is reflected in how satisfied people are in their jobs. If they are fed up, unmotivated, and lack any interest, this is going to be an incredibly draining place to work. Over time, it will sap your own energy and make you feel very down at work and home. I think we can all agree we’ve all had one of those roles before. A draining toxic workplace is not your place to thrive.
4. An office rife with gossip
There is gossip in every office, it’s inevitable. But if the whole office is talking about each other, it’s a terrible environment to be working in. Often, if it’s really bad, the gossiping could lead to bullying, which is unacceptable.
There’s also a distinct lack of actual work being done if everyone is just talking. The absolute worst is if your employer participates in the gossip. Get out while you can!
5. Unmotivated workplace
When you need to figure out if your workplace is toxic, you need to evaluate the energy and enthusiasm of the employees. If there is an air of unhappiness and a lack of motivation, you can assume that this is not a great workplace to be in.
When you feel happy and excited about work, this creates a positive air around you and you actually look forward to going to work. If this is not the case, maybe it’s time to look for a new job.
6. High employee turnover
Going out on a limb here and arguing that this is the most obvious sign of a toxic workplace, one with a high turnover of people. It should send red flags flying at you if you are constantly seeing new people replacing old ones. People don’t stay in a job if it makes them miserable, so if you notice your workplace has a lot of new staff replacing old very often, get your CV on the job boards.
How does bad management contribute to a toxic workplace?
Now, let’s look at the ways a bad boss and unfair policies can make a working environment toxic.
7. Totally inefficient communication
Rumours generally are rife when people don’t know what’s going on, and this is a warning sign of a negative workplace if there is a poor communication system in place. Whether it’s about a new product launch, a review, or even just when the next company meeting is, it’s important to have a well-oiled communication machine. And if you don’t? Time to update your CV.
8. Non-existent or useless infrastructure
Whether it’s a brand-new system that is faulty or a slow old one, if it’s not sorted, it can and will hinder you from getting your job done. The worst part is that if it’s left, it shows the company does not want to invest in making the business the best it can be. If they won’t invest in a new server, they certainly aren’t going to invest in you, so get out sharpish.
9. An absent leader
If you haven’t seen your boss all week and it’s Thursday, then you need to reconsider whether this workplace is the right place for you. An absent leader sends a terrible signal to employees that they don’t care about the business and they certainly don’t care about you. An absent boss equals a toxic workplace, so start your new job hunt asap!
10. Unfair treatment
If your colleague was late and nothing was said, but you were late and got pulled into a meeting, it would likely rile you up. And rightly so. Not enforcing the same rules for everyone creates an unpleasant hierarchy that will only end badly for you. It’s demotivating for everyone and it shows your boss doesn’t respect the protocols you might have in place.
11. Lack of thought for employee’s personal lives
A toxic workplace and employer won’t care about your personal life, and this is a big problem. Anyone who runs a successful business will know that if you value your employees, they’ll serve you well. So, when you’re asked to work longer, maybe for less pay or even no pay, this should raise red flags.
If your employer does this more than once, you should know your company does not care about you. In this sort of situation, you are not able to create a work/life balance because there isn’t one. Your toxic workplace is preventing you from having a decent personal life. Is a job really worth it?
12. An abundance of work
A company that burdens employees with more and more work they can’t complete does not value the worker. Having too much work to handle can lead to stress, which we often take home. This will harm your home life, so you can never really escape it. There have been studies on this and the results showed that 28% of people suffer in their personal life because of work stress, that’s 28% too high!
13. Staff being taken advantage of
Any form of manipulation or blame games from seniors to junior members of staff should be reported to HR (if there is one). If you’re just starting off and notice senior colleagues asking you to take more shifts or take on their workload, report it and leave. You don’t want to start your career in a toxic workplace.
14. Favouritism amongst employees
This is probably the one thing that demotivates staff most, one member of staff being given the best shifts, the best projects or just being treated so much better than everyone else. It’s toxic, but unfortunately, it happens, and there’s no fixing it, despite how you might feel about the role of your colleagues. It’s better to just leave and find somewhere where you’re all treated the same.
15. Disregard for the emotional well-being of staff
We’ve all been there, been told no matter what, work comes first over anything. But this is a dangerous situation to be in, as it shows that your boss has no regard for the personal needs of the company’s employees and that’s not a place you want to be working in.
If you find yourself saying no more to an after-work drink than your boss asking you to work late, then it’s time to shift your priorities.
16. Harassing behaviour toward employees
This sort of behaviour is a major sign that the workplace is toxic. Any sort of harassment, whether it’s sexual, verbal, or mental, is unacceptable and should be reported. Then you need to leave immediately. The only thing worse is when the boss who is involved in it masks it as “a bit of banter”. Don’t stand for it, leave.
If you notice that even just a few of these signs resonate with you, then it’s likely you are working in a toxic workplace and you need to assess your next steps and get out of there.
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