Staff are always leaving
Rapid staff turnover is perhaps the biggest red flag that you’re stuck in a toxic work environment. People leave their jobs for numerous reasons, but if every other month there’s a fresh replacement in your midst, it’s usually an indicator of deeply embedded workplace toxicity.
Communication is absolutely vital when it comes to running an effective, productive workplace. If communication is lacking, it can lead to employee error, lack of organization, or misinformation spread between teams. If your workplace’s communication is poor, it’s unfortunately a long road to improvement.
Colleagues are always gossiping
Wherever you go, colleagues tend to gossip about one another. If it’s all they do, however, then it becomes a problem. Not only does it lower productivity, it can also develop into malicious rumors, alienation, and clique-like behavior. Avoid cliques, avoid gossip, and focus on your work.
To figure out whether your workplace is toxic, take a look around the office. Are your colleagues unmotivated, constantly looking for another job? If so, your work may be harboring a toxic environment. This rings especially true if your managers provide little to no motivation for working hard, rewarding lazy employees as equally as those who go above and beyond.
Sick days are frowned upon
We all get sick – it’s a fact of life. Being terrified to call off for fear of the negative repercussions isn’t a normal practice, despite what your managers may say. If you get sick, listen to your body and stay home. A lack of available staff to cover your shift isn’t the employee’s responsibility, after all.
A leader motivated by their ego can turn a dream job into a waking nightmare. Instead of wanting to work to the best of their ability, toxic managers treat the role as an excuse to flex their power, often unwilling to get their hands dirty themselves. Poor leadership trickles down throughout every level of the workplace, creating an unbearable environment.
False promises of progression
Promotions, pay rises, and progression may be dangled in front of you as a means to get you to work harder – but the goalposts could keep on moving. If this is the case, your workplace is highly toxic. These sweet nothings show an unethical leadership style, leading to resentful, disgruntled employees.
There’s a lack of staff
Lacking staff levels is a surefire sign that your workplace is toxic. Not only does it mean that several people have already left, it also shows that your boss expects you to pick up multiple people’s work for the same level of pay. If there’s a shortfall of staffing levels, it’s usually for a reason.
Poor management methods
Poor management can be the undoing of any great workplace. Phrases such as “count yourself lucky that you have a job”, or “be grateful that you got a pay rise” are signs that you may want to look for a new employer. Creating an overly competitive environment that is led by fear, makes for a place that nobody would want to work.
There’s no work-life balance
If a job consistently calls for you to work outside of your designated hours, there’s an issue. Bosses should never expect their employees to work when they’re not being paid, but, unfortunately, it’s an all-too-common experience. You should be allowed to take your holiday allowance without feeling guilty for it – or without constantly being expected to reply to emails.
You can never finish a task
Working hard is one thing, but being given 38 different tasks per day, constantly chopping and changing your routine is another. Fast-paced work environments are common, but never being able to finish a task before being told to move on to the next thing – and the next, and the one after that – creates a stress-filled, unfulfilling environment to work in.
Your manager plays favorites
Favoritism is a fast-track way to destroy morale in any working environment. If you go above and beyond, working to the absolute best of your ability with no recognition, but the manager’s new BFF does the bare minimum and receives bonuses or a raise – your workplace is about as toxic as it gets.
Staff don’t trust each other
Perhaps your office is seeped in suspicion, with your colleagues unable to trust one another. Whether it’s about work-related ideas, or for fear that one of your co-workers will snitch to your boss about any unfavorable behavior, a suspicious attitude can destroy all sense of joy from a job. Trust is a vital part of any work environment. Without it, work is a miserable affair.
It’s a dog eat dog environment
If your boss constantly encourages competitive activities, your workplace may be more toxic than you realize. A dash of competition is healthy. Too much, and the workplace can turn toxic. The prospect of individual reward can override the ideals of collaboration, leading to repeated selfish tendencies.
Your boss yells at you or your colleagues
There is never, ever a reason to be yelled at. If your boss shouts at you, your workplace is undeniably toxic. No matter how big the mistake, your manager should always calmly explain to you any issues without raising their voice. If your boss yells, start the job hunt – your mental health will thank you for it later.
Your boss yells at managers
Perhaps your boss has never yelled at you, but you’ve overheard heated arguments from the big cheese’s office. Shouting at someone shows a lack of respect, and if your superior doesn’t have any respect for your line manager – what level of regard do you think they have for you?
The ‘vibe’ is off
If you can feel in your gut that something is wrong, you’re usually correct. Your subconscious mind picks up on issues far sooner than your conscious mind – soaking in your surroundings. Whether it’s gossiping colleagues, a quiet, tense environment, or a boss that puts you on edge – your gut knows what’s up. Vibes don’t lie.
Your manager lacks boundaries
Perhaps your manager constantly invades your personal space, leaning unnecessarily close to you. Maybe your boss texts you outside of work hours, engaging in conversation that isn’t work-related. Whatever the case may be, if your manager lacks boundaries, it’s a clear sign of a toxic workplace.
There’s tension in the office
A high level of tension in the workplace can lead to increased levels of anxiety, contributing to depression and other mental health issues. If your fellow employees don’t see eye-to-eye, or if one of your managers has personal issues with another colleague, it’s usually a big red flag of a negative working environment.
Eyerolls, shrugging, and closed-off body language are all signs of non-verbal feedback. If your boss frequently exhibits these tendencies, it’s likely that they display toxic behaviors. Instead of openly addressing any issues, your manager may resort to passive-aggressive measures – a sure sign it’s time to either speak up or move on.
There’s always some sort of drama
You might feel like the only sane person in the building, surrounded by constant swarms of drama and aggression. If your colleagues are always falling out with one another and arguments become a weekly occurrence, it may be because your job is built on a foundation of toxicity.
Your daily workload is impossible
You’re only capable of doing so much within a shift. If your manager constantly pushes you to your limit, you could feel like you’re about to hit your breaking point. If their expectations are impossibly high, it may come from a working culture that chases endless, unattainable results as opposed to targeting improved employee welfare.
There’s little to no training
Adequate training is critical in fostering a productive work environment. If the training provided at your workplace is considerably lacking, the output will naturally reflect that. It’s no good to simply be dumped in front of a computer to mindlessly click through training sheets – your manager should take you under their wing and show you the ropes.
You’re afraid of speaking up
Perhaps your office nurtures an environment that centers itself around fear, where nobody feels as though they can speak up about any issues in case of negative reactions from your boss. If you feel the need to swallow down any queries or concerns, it’s a huge indicator of a cynical, gloomy workplace.
Your complaints aren’t taken seriously
If you raise an issue with a superior, you should rightfully expect that issue to be resolved. If your complaints are constantly pushed to the side, this becomes an issue in itself. If your manager is all talk and no action, it can create a lack of trust between the two parties, fostering a poisonous dynamic.
There’s no clear hierarchy
A lack of clear hierarchy isn’t only confusing, it can also be purposefully misleading. Your company may have intentionally kept its hierarchy vague to absolve themselves of any responsibility, meaning that employees trying to file a complaint find the process difficult to navigate – hoping that the disgruntled worker will simply give up their pursuit.
Your colleagues act like managers
Colleagues acting above their pay-grade isn’t just irritating – it portrays deeper issues within your corporation. If colleagues feel the need to step up, perhaps giving you more work or putting in their two cents where it’s not wanted, it’s because your own manager is failing to effectively lead their team.
Micromanaging is extremely harmful to workplace morale, leading to disgruntled, dissatisfied, and disengaged employees. If your manager is constantly hovering over your shoulder, instructing you on how to do basic tasks, their leadership style can perpetuate toxic patterns, resulting in you having low self-esteem in regard to your work efforts.
Your managers never make time for you
Highly-strung executives who are too busy chasing their own tails can have negative consequences that trickle down throughout every level of the business. If they spend every minute frantically replying to emails, dashing from meeting to meeting, and making countless phone calls but have little time to spare for you, there’s a bigger issue at hand.
Poor safety procedures
Health and safety is hugely important in a workplace. If standards are lacking in this regard, it raises serious red flags. After all, if your bosses don’t respect health and safety policies, it shows that they don’t respect your individual well-being. If forms are half-filled out, with first aid kits missing key pieces of equipment – it may be time to move on.
Discrimination of any sort shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere, let alone in the workplace. Racism, homophobia, and sexism should all be taken extremely seriously. If you report any such toxic behaviors to your manager and nothing changes – get out of there as fast as you can.
There’s constant ‘banter’
It’s good to be able to laugh with your colleagues, engaging with one another can mean the difference between a mediocre job and an enjoyable one. However, if the jokes at your work are constantly at another’s expense, it won’t take long for this seemingly harmless humor to turn dark. Tread lightly with workplace banter, you’re there to work, after all.
Unprofessionalism at a high level
Unprofessionalism is immediately noticeable. Whether it’s the constant use of foul language from your superiors, or a blatant disregard for timekeeping or personal space – it can turn any job into a living nightmare. While not every work environment has to be high-brow, there should always be a level of personal respect for every single employee.
Discussing pay is ‘prohibited’
Some workplace horror stories include the notion that employees weren’t allowed to discuss pay with their fellow colleagues, claiming their managers said it was a fireable offense. Under the National Labor Relations Act you are allowed to openly discuss wages at the workplace. If you’re told otherwise, you’re being lied to.
You’re not as happy as you used to be
One of the quickest ways to identify whether you’re stuck in a toxic workplace is to check in with yourself. Are you more unhappy as the years go by? Do you dread getting up every morning? If so, your job could be the issue. Pinpoint the issue and dare to make a change – no job is worth sacrificing your mental health for.
Issues repeat themselves
If the same old issues keep reappearing, no matter how many times you flag them to those in charge, you may be working in a toxic environment. A lack of ability or drive to find permanent solutions to issues that are plaguing employees shows that your work is more focused on short-term results than employee welfare.
Your manager is indecisive
An indecisive manager leads to inconsistent results. If your boss is constantly flip-flopping on decisions, it can leave employees feeling confused and lacking clear direction. The rules could shift daily, going on whatever whim the manager currently feels. This only leads to muddled rules and bewildered employees.
You or your colleagues frequently go off sick
Toxic workplaces lead to an increased level of sickness. This is mainly due to burnout, fatigue, and high-stress levels – all of which can have a very physical impact on our bodies. If your colleagues are constantly being signed off, particularly for mental health reasons, take that as a pretty big warning sign.
There’s no room for error
We all make mistakes, we’re only human, after all. If there is absolutely no margin for error in your workplace, you may be operating under toxic circumstances. A constant fear of negative repercussions can lead to fearful colleagues, scared to own up to their own errors in case of an overly-negative reaction from their superiors.
You feel the need to protect yourself
While there’s no harm in ensuring you’re protected, if you’re constantly on edge about your job, something is clearly wrong. Keeping a close copy of your employee handbook, screenshotting every email, and re-reading your contract all show that you’re operating from a place of anxiety. If this is the case, it may be worth addressing where this anxiety comes from.