7 Signs of a Toxic Workplace


Anyone who has worked a 40-hour workweek can attest to stressful days, weeks, and even months at a job. These situations are normal and can be remedied. However, toxic workplaces are more than just stress-inducing situations and difficult workloads.

Toxic workspaces dive deeper into a company’s habits and methodology and are often misaligned with the core values of individuals. Sometimes, a company’s ethos gets lost after years of mismanagement or lack of awareness and springs off into toxic behavior and attitudes.

7 Signs of a Toxic Workplace

The worst part about a toxic work environment is that it follows you home. Many people who work in a toxic workplace say they feel ‘burned out’ and ‘less hopeful’ after working at a company and don’t take on many risks or choose to self-medicate.

Toxic workspaces have negative impacts on everyone in the organization. If you think your place of employment shows some toxic tendencies, visit MindDiagnostics for more information. MindDiagnostics provides free self-administered tests that determine whether you’re experiencing mental health conditions or symptoms from working in a toxic environment. For more information on toxic workplaces and how they affect mental health, visit MindDiagnostics today.

This article will discuss 7 signs of a toxic workplace and its effect on mental health.

Cliques and Gossip

If working at your job feels like high school again, then that’s a sure sign of a toxic environment. Working around people, there are bound to be personalities that mesh together and build rapport faster. Building friendships at work can improve the overall experience and efficiency of employees. However, when certain groups are purposely organizing events and targeting the same people, it can cause alienation among employees and make it awkward to work with them.

This behavior can cause friction among departments and eventually lead to inefficient practices, interdepartmental drama, and overall a bad business model. Cliques are examples of small-scaled tribalism. Isolating others can also cause employees to feel alone in the company and lead to high turnover rates and refusal to communicate with other companies.

Bottom line: cliques are bad for business.

Lack of Communication

Communication is the most prominent issue amongst organizations. So much falls on a lack of communication that the Human Resources department has dedicated training strictly on communicating effectively and holistically. Inefficient or inaccurate information spreads like gossip in organizations and can cause operations to lose money by duplicated effort or lack of awareness.

For example, say a department has to work with another for a specific project. A healthy level of communication would include an open channel of communication, daily briefings, weekly follow-ups, lunches, or even shared planning and strategy sessions. However, two departments working as silos without communicating with each other can easily set the project off-rails.

Additionally, lack of communication may make the left-out party feeling purposeless and shunned by the company, draining their energy and enthusiasm to work. Communication standards must be enforced by upper management and amongst employees in order to effectively run a business.

Unmotivated Employees

This issue may be a Hydra-esque issue with many different heads but the result is always the same. Unmotivated employees can discourage other employees from working efficiently and destroy motivation for newer co-workers. Employees may feel unmotivated because of a lack of growth, unfair practices or schedules, inattentiveness from leadership, or misalignment of vision.

Many employees may become overworked or feel underappreciated when bonuses or accolades are reserved for a select few who ‘play’ the game of politics in office settings. They may feel disenfranchised when their efforts to go above and beyond go unrecognized or passed over other employees who may not work as hard but have more clout due to favoritism.

Leadership must engage with all employees to understand and hear them out to prevent high turnover rates and address low morale. Similar to a virus, an unmotivated employee may spread and affect the whole team dynamic.

High Turnover

This sign is a direct response to unmotivated employees who feel their voice or work goes unnoticed. It’s a common saying that employees don’t leave good companies, they leave bad bosses. When great talent and hard work aren’t appreciated, employees may get scalped by competitors. They may even leave the industry altogether to pursue a less toxic environment.

A high turnover rate is particularly insidious because it affects the employees who stay as much as those who leave. For example, if a senior employee with years of experience decides to leave, they take with them their talent and training. If there is no one to fill the void and train newer employees, it poses a problem of re-training for future candidates and starts them off without the right tools and knowledge to be successful.

Bad Leadership

Unfortunately for upper management, many problems become larger as they go down of command. A manager who doesn’t communicate effectively or trust their team makes decisions that patronize their employees and leave a sour taste in their mouth. An overbearing manager, for example, may implement rules that show mistrust and no confidence. This, in turn, causes employees to mirror these qualities and also mistrust each other.

The culture and virtues of a company should be exemplified by leadership. For example, if the goal of an organization is transparency, then upper management should exemplify this transparency by how they communicate their issues to their teams. Trust is a two-way street and leaders must trust that their employees have the skills and equipment to fulfill their obligations. Employees must also trust that leadership has their interests in mind and will commit to establishing guidelines and rules that honor employees’ concerns and wants.

Final Thoughts

If you find yourself nodding to any of these signs or can relate with all of them, it may be time to move on from the organization and find a healthy environment that promotes growth, respect, and transparency. These toxic behaviors have severe implications because they can affect an employee’s mental health and negatively affect their quality of life.

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