9 Signs of a Toxic Workplace

9 Signs of a Toxic Workplace

From bullying to micromanagement, here are some red flags you must watch out for in the workplace.

Workplace trends like “hustle culture” and “quiet quitting” are shining the light on unhealthy, toxic work environments and their effects on employees. Hustle culture is when you feel like you have to work yourself to the bone and do way more than others all the time; quiet quitting, a counteragent to hustle culture, is about doing the bare minimum at your job instead of going above and beyond for an exploitative employer. 

Though quiet quitting may be construed as a passing fad, there is no denying that many workplaces have become increasingly toxic in recent years. Here’s our lowdown on the top nine red flags to keep an eye out for in your workplace.

1. Unhealthy competition: If you feel like you’re constantly pitted against your colleagues in an unhealthy way, it’s likely that your workplace is toxic. Competition is healthy in moderation, but it can create a hostile environment if it’s constant and cutthroat. It discourages collaboration and advocates for the idea that employees must do whatever it takes to get the work done, no matter how questionable their methods may be. 

2. Gossip: Having gossiping coworkers is one of the most common signs of a toxic workplace. If you’re always hearing negative things about other people in the office, it’s time to take a step back. Gossiping can lead to conflict and lower not only your morale but also your productivity. 

3. Backstabbing: Another sign of a toxic workplace is when colleagues constantly try to one-up or stab each other in the back. This kind of behavior creates an environment of distrust and can make it challenging to get work done.

4. Poor communication: One of the essential things in any workplace is clear and effective communication. If you constantly struggle to understand what’s happening or what’s expected of you, your workplace likely has communication issues. Poor communication might lead to employees having to assume things and producing work that doesn’t meet targets. It might also result in misunderstandings and tensions between colleagues and managers. 

5. Micromanagement: No one likes to be constantly monitored and nitpicked. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re being micromanaged, you are probably working in an unhealthy work environment. A micromanager might come from a place of intense internal anxiety and want to control every aspect of your work. Often, they focus on the more minor things, such as font size or your ability to create new folders, instead of emphasizing the bigger picture.

6. Unreasonable expectations: If your workplace is constantly setting unrealistic deadlines or expecting you to do the impossible, it’s likely toxic. Managers in such a setting are either overzealous or inconsiderate of the circumstances. This kind of environment can lead to burnout and resentment.

7. Lack of recognition: Everyone likes to feel appreciated for their hard work, so if you feel like your efforts are going unnoticed, it might be time to look for a new job. Research by Harvard Business Review found that the better leaders are at giving recognition, the more engaged their employees are likely to be. Moreover, recognized employees are more confident and much less likely to quit the organization. 

8. Bullying: Unfortunately, bullying is all too common in workplaces today. If you feel you’re being belittled, harassed or otherwise mistreated by your colleagues, it’s time to get out of that toxic environment. Bullying can have severe physical and mental health consequences, which is why some countries, like Australia, Canada, France and Sweden, have stringent laws in place to protect their employees. 

9. No work/life balance: A healthy workplace should respect your need for a life outside of work. If you find yourself working all hours of the day and never having any time for yourself, your workplace is likely toxic.

In the end, the best way to deal with a toxic workplace is to leave it. If you can’t or don’t want to do that, try to find a way to create a positive environment despite the toxicity. Whether that means being extra friendly to your coworkers or taking breaks when needed, do what you can to protect yourself from the harmful effects of a toxic workplace.

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