Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
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The Signs of a Toxic Workplace

toxic workplace

A toxic workplace is a place you never want to find yourself in as it can kill any joy for life you pretty quickly. Find out if you are in one today .

First let’s completely forego the scenario which your workplace isliterally  a toxic dump and/or has been contaminated with radioactive waste. If anything green and gooey is glowing next to your desk and/or bugs die immediately when they fly into your office, it might be time to look for a new job. What I am talking about is people in your professional sphere that create an atmosphere that hurts productivity, morale and although you probably wouldn’t want to admit it, your feelings. Here are just a few signs of a toxic workplace.

See Also: 3 Surprising Work Things That Are Bad for Your Health


Communication Breakdown

arguing shutterstock

You might be familiar with the Led Zeppelin ditty of the same name, but that is solely irrelevant…the biggest most consistent sign of a toxic workplace is a lack of communication. Communication problems can become an insurmountable obstacle to coordination, collaboration and achievement of goals. It can also hurt morale when the team’s feedback loop is broken. If your unfamiliar with the term “feedback loop” it’s a system in which management gives a task to a subordinate, said subordinate completes a stage of the task, returning to management for feedback regarding the work to that point making progress adjustments possibly saving both time and labor hours. Alternatively to the feedback loop the subordinate completes the task and then the manager comes in and adjusts, readjusts and adjusts again, undoing work and maybe even complicating and halting progress altogether.

Toxic Leader

toxic leader Tanveernaseer

Although usually toxic workplaces have toxic leaders, not all toxic leaders reside in a toxic workplace…I know that sounds like a word problem…and I never said it wasn’t. So what is the best way to figure out if your boss is a toxic leader? Narcissism! Consistently most, if not all, toxic leader are egocentric and put their opinions, ideas and virtues above everyone else’s. They believe that they are the brightest, most talented and most adept at most roles and responsibilities than anyone else in their team. Seldom will the toxic leader give credit where credit is due because although they are the brightest they still need to steal other people’s ideas for some reason. Externally they may seem successful, go-getters and name takers but eventually their organizations will start bleeding personnel, beginning with losing the most talented members of their team which will inevitably bring about a chain-reaction.



confused employee shutterstock

Are policies overly enforced for certain members of the team but flexible for other employees? Do leaders and administration completely disregard policy that would result in the termination of anyone below them? This lack of consistency is a sure-fire way to uncover multiple toxic elements in the workplace. For example, the leader or administrator that always leaves early and comes in whenever they feel like? Obviously this type of person has no respect or regard for any of the people below him/her. Is there that one co-worker that always gets preferential treatment? Are different departments within the company treated differently and have vastly varying privileges? Well, this shows a structure set up that does not consider equality an important component of their company culture.



bad communication shutterstock

Does the chatter around the water cooler usually devolve into a character assassination of a co-worker or one of the members of administration? Do most employees have at least a handful of complaints regarding policy, leadership or procedures? Usually toxic workplaces create feelings of frustration and disgruntlement amongst the employees and leadership. Negative language is a result of negative behavior and if people default more frequently to negativity then they are probably exposed to it more frequently too. The opposite and inverse though isn’t positivity necessarily, but constructive language. If the lines of communication are open in both directions, then a system of assessment and revaluation can help remedy bottlenecks and points of contention. Furthermore, negative language can often turn into to bullying which can affect the victim both in a physical and a mental way…but it’s not just the language influencing your health…



This is probably one of the most terrifying aspects of a toxic workplace: it can kill you. And it will be a slow, painful wheezing death too. Weight gain, diabetes, insomnia and many other adverse health effects have been associated with chronic stress (as result of the toxic workplace). Oh and I forgot….it can also weaken your immune system! It’s a toxic workplace, did you think it wasn’t going to kick you while you were down? So not only will you perpetually have bags under your eyes, you will also get sick more often. Mental problems, such as anxiety, can result from working long term in a toxic workplace. It has also been observed that untreated anxiety can also manifest into depression. The first indication of suffering physically from a toxic workplace is when people close to you notice a negative change in behavior, in the form of easily being angered, seeming stressed, depressed or frustrated. These changes in behaviors will not only affect you but also the people around you, deteriorating relationships and further compounding mental and physical problems.

See Also: Signs a Job is a Bad Fit For You

Do you currently work in a toxic workplace? Or have previously worked in a toxic workplace? (come on be honest, we’ve all worked in a toxic workplace from time to time) Were there any signs that I forgot to add? Is there anything which is a surefire way to discern if you work in a toxic workplace? Let us know in the comment section below.


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