7 Red Flags To Watch Out For A Toxic Workplace

7 Red Flags To Watch Out For A Toxic Workplace


What’s your workplace like? Do you feel there’s a destructive culture that’s infecting everyone from the ground up? And if so, how do you identify a toxic workplace?

Depending on your work experiences to-date, you might not refer to an uncomfortable work environment as a toxic culture. So what might you say instead?

Here are some of the ways you could describe what’s going on (or things that you might hear other people say):

  • There’s a bad atmosphere
  • It’s a stressful environment
  • There’s a high staff turnover
  • People don’t trust each other
  • There’s a lot of backstabbing
  • Staff aren’t friendly or nice to each other
  • People gossip about their colleagues
  • There’s a lot of moaning and groaning
  • Some staff admit that they hate their job
  • Lots of people don’t like coming to work

It’s not unlikely that, in the course of your career (or careers), you could potentially work in a place where at least some of these things happen.

It can take a while for you to spot the signs as well, since you’ll probably be too busy making a good impression.

When you’ve been working in a particular place for some time, however, and when the dust settles, that’s when you might begin to pick up little signals that things are not all rosy in the business garden.

Apart from the things people say, what other types of signs should you be looking out for?

How To Identify A Toxic Workplace: Discover The 7 Red Flags To Watch Out For

The overall quality of your workplace can deteriorate if bad practices are evident and allowed to continue. These can include:

Red Flag #1 – A Lack Of Positive Feedback

Whether you’re working for an international organization or mowing lawns in your neighborhood, feedback is crucial.

And if the feedback you keep getting is positive, it’s going to make you do a better job. It’s going to give you confidence and fill you with enthusiasm.

If, on the other hand, all the feedback you get is negative, then it’s going to have the opposite effect. If a customer constantly complains that you didn’t cut the grass properly, despite your best efforts, that that’s going to make you reconsider whether or not you should continue working for them. And if you stop, then you both lose out.

Red Flag #2 –Too Much Red Tape

It can be difficult to get your work done when it takes days or even weeks for decisions to be made. Too many layers of bureaucracy can seriously slow things down or even bring them to a halt. And when that happens you lose momentum, you lose your focus, and you become less efficient and productive.

Ideally you want the freedom to make as many decisions as possible, because then you can get on with your job.  That also shows that your manager or supervisor trusts you to make the right decisions, which is another way to build your confidence and ensure a better quality of work.

Red Flag #3 – Profits Come Before People

You know that businesses exist to make money, but you also know that the money made by any business is made by the people working there.

If a business looks after its staff, the business will prosper. If it doesn’t look after them, they’ll make less of an effort, take more time off, look for other employment, and the business will struggle to survive.

Red Flag #4 – Bullying Is Rife Throughout

Bullying can come from colleagues or from managers or supervisors. If you experience bullying in the workplace, it can lead to stress and anxiety.

It can make you dread coming to work each day. It can force you to keep quiet even when you think something’s wrong, because you know you’ll pay for it later.

Red Flag #5 – Lack Of Concern For Employee Welfare

This is linked to number 4. If you aren’t happy in your workplace, either because of bullying or because of other issues, then you’re not going to do a decent job. You’re not going to feel good about what you do and you’re not going to put in any extra effort.

If your boss or manager doesn’t try to make you happy in your work, then you will be more likely to experience stress, feel undervalued, and possibly burn yourself out.

That could lead to more time off work, which might ultimately lead to dismissal or the search for different employment.

Red Flag #6 – Blatant Favoritism

It’s no secret that people either click or they don’t. But if your boss constantly shows a preference for someone else’s work, it can make you feel underappreciated.

Alternatively, you may work in an environment where you are frequently pitted against other workers to reach a deadline or complete a task. While a bit of friendly competition can often help to spur you on, too much competition can stress you out, leave your nerves jangling over the side of your desk and make you want to pull your hair out.

There are also some things you can’t compete with, which makes it almost impossible to do your job well and demonstrate your skills properly.

Red Flag #7 – Unstable Work-Life Balance

Let’s face it: a job is just a job. When you’re not at work, you should be able to focus on other things. Things like your family, your friends, your hobbies and so on. But some employers expect more than that.

You may be unlucky enough to have the type of job where you are constantly on standby, always available.

Or you might have an employer who expects you to answer emails whenever you get them, whether you’re in the office or on holiday.

Then there are jobs where you are expected to work as many hours as possible, with little or no vacation time and no benefits for time off, even when you’re physically unable to get to work.

That’s a disaster waiting to happen, of course, because if you don’t burn out, you’ll make yourself ill, and in either case, you’ll probably have to give up that job completely.

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