Skip to main content

10 Signs You’re in a Toxic Work Environment

By February 25, 2022January 6th, 2023No Comments

Workplaces that are toxic are draining on both your personal and professional lives. Here are ten telltale indications of a hazardous workplace, as well as how to deal with (or avoid) them. A poisonous workplace is more than just a “disliked” employment. We’ve all had a lousy Monday, a difficult week, or perhaps a disappointing month. A career’s cyclical nature explains this.

However, you can usually get through a horrible Monday, make it through a difficult week, and acquire useful lessons from a dismal quarter. When you operate in a toxic atmosphere, it’s as though you’re always faced with these challenges. It’s a slew of red flags on top of a slew of red flags. Unrest, competition, low morale, continual stressors, hostility, sickness, high turnover, and even bullying are all symptoms of toxic work environments. What’s worse? Toxic workplaces have a low retention rate.

Typically, they will follow you home. They dominate your talks with family and friends, rob you of much-needed sleep, and overall induce anxiety and tension. Toxic workplaces can cause stress, burnout, depression, self-esteem harm, and major disturbances in your daily life. So, if you’ve come to this page because you’re unsure if your workplace issues are the product of generalized work stress or something more serious, let’s have a look at ten symptoms your company is experiencing substantial dysfunction.

10 Signs You’re Working in a Toxic Environment:

  1. It’s possible that a toxic workplace has poor communication.
  2. Cliques, exclusion, and gossipy behavior are all signs of a toxic workplace.
  3. It’s possible that bad leadership is to blame for a toxic workplace.
  4. Coworkers that are unmotivated are likely to be found in a toxic workplace.
  5. It’s possible that a toxic workplace has stifled growth.
  6. Employee Turnover Is Likely to Be High In A Toxic Workplace
  7. There is frequently no work-life balance in a toxic workplace.
  8. Burnout is a result of working in a toxic environment.
  9. There is little or no forward movement in a toxic workplace.
  10. A Toxic Workplace Makes You Feel Uneasy

If any of these seem similar, it’s time for your workplace to get in shape—or for you to consider looking for a new job.

1. Poor Communication in a Toxic Workplace

So many workplace issues are caused by insufficient, confused, or dispersed communication.

Communication is, in fact, one of the most critical talents in any successful firm. Why?

So much falls under the communication umbrella—listening skills (both as a boss and as an employee), verbal and written communication, communication preferences—the list goes on!

So, how can you detect if poor communication is causing toxicity in the workplace? Here are a few examples of misunderstandings.

  • A major problem is a lack of communication.
  • Projects are plagued by a constant lack of clarity.
  • Messages are delivered differently to various employees.
  • Communication that is both passive and aggressive
  • Listening abilities are lacking.
  • Constant communication during “off-hours”

The core reason of terrible organizations—or good organizations running poorly—is a lack of communication. Employees frequently experience bewilderment and a lack of purpose as a result of poor communication. Problems arise and compound from here, frequently leading to all of the other issues on our list.

What’s the takeaway? Hold on tight if your company’s communication strategies aren’t up to par. You’re most likely in a poisonous environment that will only worsen over time.

2. Cliques, exclusion, and gossipy behavior may exist in a toxic workplace

Nobody has ever said, “I want the workplace to feel like eighth grade all over again.” It might be deflating when you feel like you’ve returned to a middle school cafeteria.

We’ve all seen how a clique looks. It’s the group of people who stay together, grab coffee for each other, laugh at inside jokes (of which they have around one million), and generally excludes everyone outside of their tight-knit ring, whether at work or at school.

While we are all adults here, being on the outside of an active clique can feel quite alienating.

Simply simply, cliques in the workplace are ineffective. While having friends and acquaintances at work is beneficial, any behavior that may be regarded as “clique-ish” should be avoided.

Here are a few telltale indicators that your office is infested by Heathers (or Harveys?):

Feeling of exclusion from a group of people on a regular basis

A poisonous employee clique that eats lunch, drinks coffee, and plans happy hours together.

Regardless of aptitude or expertise, projects are frequently offered to a specific group.

A significant portion of the working day is spent whispering or conversing on messaging services.

The group’s general indifference in anyone else—unless it involves gossip or “drama”

What’s the takeaway? Cliques should be avoided at all costs. Coworkers who gossip should be avoided. Avoid rumor-mongering and hearsay. At work, they have no place.

If you see that management and executive-level personnel are behaving in a clique-like manner, you may have an organizational mean problem—which is about as toxic as it gets.

3. A toxic workplace could be the result of poor leadership

Here’s a big one for you.

There’s a reason why the old adage goes, “You don’t leave a job, you leave a terrible boss.” Bad leadership has the ability to infiltrate into the fundamental fabric of a company, and it frequently does. We talked about eleven different types of awful bosses and how to deal with them, but here’s the thing:

A bad boss is sometimes the result of their bad boss—and so on. It’s because of this generational ladder of inadequate leadership that the workplace has become — you guessed it – poisonous.

Bad bosses come in a number of disguises. You can work under a micromanager who continuously corrects you, undermines your decisions, and eventually prevents you from doing your job.

You can have the “Blame Game” employer, who is ready to blame others for their mistakes. You might be fortunate enough to have the “No Respect” employer, who emails at all hours of the day and night, forgets how to spell your name, and has no idea what you do.

What’s the takeaway? If you have no remedy, bad leadership is an indication of a poisonous workplace.

The way a leader behaves is crucial. It establishes the tone for how people conduct themselves at work. If your company has an HR department, or if your awful boss has a decent boss, you can try to communicate your concerns to them.

4. Unmotivated Coworkers Are Almost Always Found In A Toxic Workplace

We’re not suggesting that you rate your own work based on the quality (or lack thereof) of those around you.

It will, however, take its toll on you if you find yourself in a job full of unmotivated employees. When it comes to unmotivated coworkers, you may have two options.

You’re going to have to take on a lot of work that they can’t handle—and you’re going to get burned out.

Their lack of motivation will depress you—and eventually burn you out from a form of under-challenged burnout.

Your coworkers can inspire you to work harder, be better, and incubate new ideas, but they can also exhaust you. Employees that are unmotivated are frequently the outcome of a much greater organizational issue.

Maybe it’s a lack of communication from the top. It could be a lack of organization, dissatisfaction with leadership, or overall mistrust. Whatever it is, you’re in a poisonous work environment if everyone around you is unmotivated.

What’s the takeaway? Unfortunately, unless you’re in a position of leadership, this problem is a symptom of far deeper issues, and you’re unlikely to learn or grow in this atmosphere.

5. A toxic workplace can stifle development

If you’re not experiencing progress at work, it’s possible that your environment is toxic—even if it’s only personally poisonous for you.

If your employer doesn’t appear to provide any mobility, learning chances to advance your skills or career, or mentorship, it’s likely that they aren’t interested in your professional development. It may be time to alter the soil once you’ve realized you have nowhere to grow.

What’s the takeaway? Your profession isn’t always the source of inspiration and motivation for you. If, on the other hand, you feel absolutely trapped and have nowhere to go, it may be time to move on.

6. A toxic workplace is more likely to have a high employee turnover rate

Rapid staff turnover is a pretty good indicator of a hostile environment. Leaving a job is a difficult decision. When numerous people make the same decision, you know something is seriously wrong.

Employees who are constantly laid off or fired, on the other hand, may be a symptom of a few additional poisonous aspects.

A high turnover rate indicates disorder, a lack of direction, poor leadership, or a lack of opportunity. Keep an eye on your company’s turnover rate.

What’s the takeaway? Rapid turnover is a sure sign that things aren’t going well—or that they’re likely to get worse. If you have the opportunity, speak with some of the employees who have departed, been fired, or have been laid off.

7. There is frequently no work-life balance in a toxic workplace

You are entitled to a fulfilling life outside of work.

Slack alerts should be able to be turned off. On a Tuesday, you should be able to leave an email unread after supper. You should be able to go to the dentist without feeling bad about it.

Take the vacation days that you have earned.

Work-life balance is critical for long-term success. It is unreasonable to expect a human to be on the clock at all times. It’s toxic if your job needs you to be available at all times. Your job is poisonous if your supervisor expects you to answer emails in the middle of the weekend—every Saturday.

Yes, things do come up at inconvenient times. However, if you work under the assumption that you will always be available for work, your employment is toxic waste in our opinion.

What’s the takeaway? Setting appropriate work boundaries is an excellent strategy to avoid these types of toxic workplaces. It’s probably not for you if your boundaries can’t be met, or at least compromised.

8. You’re Fighting Burnout Because of a Toxic Workplace

In this article, we’ve discussed burnout a little bit. Burnout is more than a buzzword you’ve probably heard in the office. The World Health Organization recognizes workplace burnout as a genuine medical illness.

Burnout is a sure symptom of a toxic workplace—or at the very least, a workplace that doesn’t “work” for you. There are three different kinds of burnout. Do any of these words ring a bell with you?

Employees who put a lot of effort into their work in the hopes that the end result will be satisfying experience frenetic burnout. The frenzied worker does not see favorable results after a long period of dedicated work.

Burnout that happens when a person feels unchallenged and bored at work is known as underchallenged burnout. Employees that are underchallenged are in a bad mood since they are unable to find any satisfaction in their jobs.

Worn-out Burnout: A worn-out employee is someone who has given up on their job after being subjected to constant work stress for an extended period of time. The worn-out employee is disillusioned and uninspired by the job at hand, having received meager incentives.

What’s the takeaway? If you’re experiencing any of these sorts of occupational burnout, you should seriously consider leaving.

9. There is little or no forward movement in a toxic workplace

Toxic work cultures can sometimes sprout from a seedling.

This is where things start to go south, whether the seed is a lousy manager, a difficult budget year, or an organization-wide failure to uphold the company’s objective.

If you used to think your job was “so fantastic!” but now you can’t think of a suitable term to describe it, you’re definitely dealing with a new level of toxicity and won’t be able to go forward.

If your movement pauses or comes to a complete stop, it’s usually a sign of anything more serious.

What’s the takeaway? It’s a clue that things are toxifying if you’re not moving forward in your work, especially if you’ve previously experienced growth. It might be time to think about leaving your work.

10. A Toxic Workplace Makes You Feel Uneasy

Your gut is your biggest warning indication, much like when you eat bad food or too much sugar.

If your gut tells you that your workplace is bad, it most likely is. There’s a significant problem if your anxiety is over the roof, if you believe you’re being discriminated against, if your physical health is suffering—and all of this happens on a regular basis.

What’s the takeaway? Trust your instincts. Get a second opinion from a friend or loved one if necessary. Your gut, on the other hand, is an expert. Pay attention to it.

If any of the above describes your workplace, it’s possible that it’s much more poisonous. It’s possible that you’re working in a hostile setting. Workplaces that are hostile are even worse—and it’s likely that most of the inter-office behavior is unlawful.

Look for some of the following signs of an extremely hostile workplace:

  • Harassment of women
  • Inclusion is lacking.
  • Sexual orientation, race, creed, or disability comments
  • There are no human resources. (This is a problem with a firm of more than 15 or 20 individuals)
  • Bullying
  • People who are at conflict with one another

Signs of a Toxic Work from Home

  • Do you believe toxicity “doesn’t exist” when you work from home? Reconsider your position!
  • Toxicity does not go away just because you aren’t in direct contact with your coworkers, have a very toxic employer, or work in an overbearing environment.
  • If your office was toxic in the first place, it’s likely that the same poisonous practices will find their way into your work-from-home arrangement. It is preferable to be as alert as possible.
  • Here are a few symptoms that the toxicity in your office has made its way into your home office.

Office gossip has made its way to the internet

What’s the good news?

Online office gossip is quite trackable, whether it’s through chat applications, side emails, or post-meeting reports. What’s the bad news? It’s still as harmful, useless, and destructive as real-life gossip.

While it is unwise (to use a nice term) to leave a digital trail of critical comments or even bullying behavior, some toxic employees will continue to do so. You have a few options if you notice it in your digital workplace.

First and foremost, avoid anything that even somewhat resembles gossip. You’re working from home, bored, and while workplace gossip can be fascinating, it’s a waste of time.

Furthermore, determining whether or not what you’re witnessing is genuine rumor might be tough. According to body language specialist Albert Mehrabian’s studies, vocal cues, including tone, account for 38% of a message’s impact, while the remaining 55% is nonverbal.

Ask questions if you can’t figure out what a message signifies. If what you’re witnessing is simply chatter, don’t get involved. Collect evidence if it’s extremely hurtful or directed at a specific individual (even yourself!).

Working online has the advantage of making it easy to end harmful conversations without having to have a difficult talk face-to-face.

Digital Meetings Overlook Employees

If you have trouble speaking out in person meetings, having your weekly meetings online could make things even worse. There’s a function to silence meeting attendees, after all.

Beyond that, you’ve got the standard technological issues like lag time, interruptions, the “can anyone actually hear me?” conundrum, and the general lack of eye-to-eye contact that you’d expect in an in-person meeting.

It is possible to have an effective digital meeting. In fact, when used appropriately, video technology should make collaboration even more efficient.

Talk with your management if you believe that your remote meetings only allow one person to speak. Consider how to make time for all team members to contribute by setting and keeping to meeting agendas.

Your Burnout (along with everyone else’s) is even worse

You’ve finally gotten rid of that daily commute that takes 45 minutes in each direction. So, why is your burnout worse than it’s ever been?

According to a new survey on remote job burnout conducted by, 68 percent of work-from-home professionals are still suffering from acute burnout. Why? In a nutshell, it’s because some of us never actually turn off.

You’ve got a recipe for workplace burnout when you combine your job with home pressures, childcare, your partner navigating a whole other career within earshot, and the transformation of your home into a 24/7 office.

Assume that your entire crew is suffering from burnout. Your Marketing Associate’s late email has suddenly become a personal attack. Do they have any idea how busy you are? What an affront!

Burnout in the workplace may swiftly change a once-healthy environment into a toxic one. You may counteract this by scheduling 1:1 meetings, breaks, honestly advocating self-care, and incorporating “pleasure” into your work weeks.

Communication is essential for successful digital collaboration. To calibrate from time to time, find ways for your team to duplicate water cooler time, connect, and disconnect from work.

A toxic workplace is a serious issue that needs to be managed before it gets out of hand. Discover our teambuilding solutions that can help you manage the problem before it escalates out of control.

Leave a Reply