Last Updated on April 22, 2020
What Is A Toxic Work Environment?
The office should be one of the places where we find happiness and feel appreciated. But what happens when every day spent in the office leaves you feeling stressed, hopeless, and empty? If you wake up each morning and dread the thought of going to work, the chances are that you’re dealing with a toxic work environment.
A toxic work environment simply refers to a workplace environment where you feel uncomfortable, undervalued, and unappreciated. A toxic workplace isn’t necessarily one where you’re overworked and underpaid.
It could also be a place where your values and beliefs are regularly trodden upon by your employer and fellow workmates. Frequent communication breakdowns, unnecessary talk-downs, poor leadership skills, and a lack of teamwork are all hallmarks of a toxic workplace.
It’s difficult to achieve your optimal productivity and pursue your full measure of happiness in a toxic workplace. As they say, “Life is too short to spend working in a place where you don’t feel appreciated.”
But to unchain yourself from a toxic workplace, you must first know the signs to watch out for. The following are the 20 tell-tale signs that you’re in a toxic work environment.
1. Poor Leadership Skills
The first tell-tale sign of a toxic work environment is poor leadership skills. Poor leadership comes in various shapes and forms. It could be that you’re working for an employer or under a supervisor that delights in bulling his employees to make them feel inferior.
Poor leadership can also be manifested in how ineffective a company’s top decision-making organs are. And each time their poor decisions cost the company in revenue or reputation, the leadership finds it convenient to blame the junior staff. Inefficiency in addressing employee disputes, conflicts, and grievances are other prime indicators of poor leadership in a company.
Spreading unnecessary gossips is another sign that you’re in a toxic work environment. This mostly affects your fellow colleagues. Gossiping not only wastes your productive time, but it also veers your mind off things that matter.
3. A Lack of Team Work
Working in an office where you don’t get adequate support from your colleagues and bosses can be such a daunting experience. It’s worse if your colleagues throw you under the bus and once you’ve succeeded in pulling off a project, they take all the credit for it.
4. Unreasonable Workload
So, you just landed a job in a company a few months ago as a Chief Financial Officer. But before you can even settle in your new role, your boss wants you to perform some HR work. When the workload keeps piling up, you should begin looking for an exit plan. That’s especially true if the extra workload includes duties that are outside of your scope of knowledge and experience.
5. Overworked and Underpaid
Another sign of workplace toxicity is when your boss allows you to work overtime without any pay. And whenever you ask for payment for the extra work, they tell you to feel lucky that you have a job.
6. Employee Sickness
Toxic workplaces often lead to employee physical and mental fatigue. So, one of the sure-fire signs of a toxic office is if employees are always calling in sick. It’s worse if the sickness is feigned, just so the employee can stay away from work.
7. Poor Communication
It’s important to work in an office with clearly-defined channels of communication. If you find yourself learning about crucial company decisions on the grapevine, then you know you’re in a toxic work environment.
8. Lack of Performance Appraisal
Every company should have an annual employee performance appraisal program. These programs help you to know how you’re faring by pointing out your strengths and areas of inadequacy. A lack of performance appraisal simply means your efforts aren’t appreciated.
9. Everyone Is In a Foul Mood
An office where everyone looks stressed and miserable is a sure sign that the work environment is hostile. This is especially true if the grumpiness begins right after morning staff briefing.
10. The Office Is Full Of Drama
Infighting, staff conflicts, and competitions for favorable treatment are all typical signs of a toxic workplace. It’s worse if the conflicts occasionally degenerate into all-out confrontations and brawls.
11. Your Guts Tell You Something Is Off
Intuitions never lie. So, when your guts keep telling you that something is out of place, trust it. When you’re new in a hostile office, everyone may try to be in their best behavior. But your intuition will always be able to see beneath their pretense.
12. Blame Game Is the Order of The Day
When everyone always finds someone to blame in an office, this could be another tell-tale sign that things aren’t okay. In most cases, all the blame is heaped on the most vulnerable but hardworking member of staff, which could be you.
13. You Experience Insomnia
When you’re in a stressful work environment, it may be difficult to have a good night sleep. And whenever your sleep is interrupted, the unfortunate events in the office will always be the first things that come to mind.
14. High Turnover
A hostile work environment kills staff morale, leading to a high turnover rate. In such environments, there is always one or two employees who’re actively trying to leave the company.
15. Verbal Abuse
It doesn’t matter how badly you’ve pissed off your employer or a fellow work colleague. Verbal abuse simply has no place in any office. It’s worse if the insults take a cultural, racial, or religious tangent.
16. Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment at workplace mostly affects female employees. It ranges from inappropriate stares to sexually-suggestive slurs. If this keeps coming from the same people, you should file a complaint with the relevant departments. And if nothing seems to be done, it might as well imply that sexual harassment is a habit that’s right at the center of the company’s DNA.
17. Your Work-Life Balance Is Out Of Place
A hostile office environment can spill over into your personal and social life. It could affect your ability to forge new relationships and maintain existing ones. Your friends and relatives will start to think that you’re deliberately trying to detach yourself from them.
You’re hanging out with your buddies over the weekend and everyone is waxing a lyrical of how great their bosses and companies are. But when it comes to your turn, you simply avoid discussing your company and wish the topic of discussion could change.
19. There’s No Growth
Though this is frequently overlooked, a lack of growth and development is another sure-fire indicator of a toxic workplace environment. A classic case is where you’ve worked in a company for ten years in the same position, performing the same duties and earning the same salary.
20. Tyrannical and Narcissist Leadership
Last but not least, a toxic and dysfunctional work environment can be symptomized by dictatorial leadership. In this kind of leadership, your bosses demand that their decisions and opinions be accepted unconditionally, even if those decisions are visibly unviable. Also, the bosses demand unending praise even when they haven’t accomplished anything worthy of recognition.
There are many other signs of a toxic work environment to watch out for. Generally, any job that takes away your happiness and enthusiasm qualifies as toxic. The onus is on you to identify the signs and begin crafting a perfect exit plan.