7 Signs of a Toxic Workplace

Monday blues, a bad day at the office, disagreements with a boss, dissatisfied clients, or an inadequate sales return are the usual ups and downs of working life. 

A toxic environment is being in this cyclical loop on routine, and no sane person can survive this kind of a see-saw routine every day.

Toxic work environments breed unrest, low morale, negativity, high turnover, and even bullying. What is worse is that a toxic culture is contagious, and it seeps into other places of your life—at home, amongst colleagues, and even your health.

A toxic work culture does not appear suddenly at the workplace, it is allowed to build up over a period of time due to bad management, the people who are in leadership roles. There are always apparent signs that show the toxicity of a work environment.

“Toxic work culture describes a culture where the workplace is plagued by in-fighting, passive aggressiveness, shouting across the office, drama and unhappy employees to the point that productivity is impacted,” explains Alexandra Lichtenfeld, business mentor at Client Matters.

Signs of a Toxic Workplace Toxic Office

Here we list out a few for you to beware of, the most obvious one is:

A General Lackluster Environment:

People are just seen to be carrying on their daily jobs in a very disinterested manner. You will notice no interactions, engagement, or exchange of any sort of information.

People can be seen pretending to be too busy. There is no engagement with either the work or work colleagues. This disinterest will surely be reflected in the company’s bottomline too.

Groups, Cliques and Gossip Galore

It is like high school all over again, and nobody wants to revisit that time, even the most popular kids.

A clique is that know-all group whose life’s work is to make other people feel inadequate. They look out for each other, move in a crowd, and have 100s of shared ideas and jokes. Though we are all adults here, it can feel extremely alienating to exist on the outside of an active clique. 

Cliques are counterproductive in the workplace. The groupism that it promotes leads to general dissatisfaction all around. The “I scratch your back you scratch mine” functioning leaves out genuine talent being offered projects or work that they excel at.

To top it, a large part of the workday is spent chatting, gossiping and creating unnecessary drama over non-events.

 A Culture of Policies Over People 

A workplace where the general answer to every query and question is this is the way things are done here. “Our company policy does not allow it.” There is no margin for adjustments, people always come second in any decision.

Policies are rigid, and no diversion is allowed even if it improves productivity.

Poor or No Communication

Insufficient and confusing communication leads to problems in the workplace. In fact, communication skills are the most important skills needed in any successful organization. There is a constant lack of clarity around projects and who is responsible for it.

There are confusing messages given out. Same projects having different teams working on different timelines. Lack of co-ordination

Also, there is passive-aggressive communication—a failure to listen to suggestions. 

A toxic culture of off-hour communication, when work is done or communicate beyond the standard office times.

Bad Leadership

Bad leadership can seep into every fiber of an organization. Sometimes a bad boss is the product of his/her bad boss and it becomes a hierarchy of bad bosses.

There are various bad bosses: the micromanagers, the underminers, and the insecure ones who never take responsibility.

If you are unfortunate enough to work under such a boss, then it is time to think of an alternative.

Unmotivated Coworkers

A toxic work environment leads to unmotivated workers. There is no incentive to work to the best of one’s ability as there are no returns, no appreciation, and it seems no one cares.

In such an atmosphere, the quality of work suffers. The other option is to work yourself to the ground taking up the slack and working yourself to the ground.

Just like a motivated and energetic workplace can inspire you to give your best and work harder and incubate new ideas, and unmotivated workforce can wear you down. Unmotivated employees are usually a result of a much larger organizational problem. It is either bad communication from the top, disorganization, disenfranchisement with leadership, or general distrust.

Rapid Employee Turnover

Rapid employee turnover is a sure sign that a workplace is toxic. When you notice that several people are leaving an organization, then something is really wrong. 

Conversely, if employees are constantly being laid off or fired, this also is a sign that all is not well. High employee turnover usually means there’s a lack of direction, bad leadership, or little opportunity. Pay attention to the turnover rate in your company. 

Jane Harper
Writer. Human resources expert and consultant. Follow @thehrdigest on Twitter

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