A toxic work environment is more than just a job you “hate.”
You have bad Mondays, challenging weeks, and even disappointing months.
However, working in a toxic workplace is like having all of these challenges on repeat, without a break.
You probably didn't know that the work environment is toxic when your employer first hired you. You only found that out later.
It can negatively impact your work life. You sleep less, stress more, and your mental health could fall to an all-time low. So, what are the signs of a toxic work environment?
What are the red flags of a toxic work environment?
1. You are overworked and underpaid
Working every night and over the weekends without compensation? Whenever you ask for payment for the late nights you pull, they always tell you that you should feel lucky to have a job.
2. Never-ending gossip and drama
A little bit of office hearsay is normal, but when your average day feels like you are starring in a reality-TV show, you’ve reached a whole new level of drama. Nobody openly communicates and, instead, opts for whispers, side-eye glances, and passive-aggressive remarks.
3. High employee turnover
Pay attention to the turnover rate in your company. It could mean that there’s disorganisation, lack of direction, poor leadership, or little opportunity. Try speaking with some of the employees who either left, were fired, or were laid off.
4. You dread when it comes to new projects
Remember when you used to be excited, enthusiastic, and ready to take on the world on your first day? A few months later, you are on your third cup of coffee before your fourth video conference of the day. If your job makes you feel uneasy, it’s a sign that maybe the company is headed on a path in which you're no longer aligned.
5. You are working with an absent leader
You've been trying to reach your boss all week, but he's not there or hasn't responded to your emails and texts. This sends a terrible signal to employees that they don't care about the business, and they most certainly don't care about you. If this is happening to you, consider whether this workplace is right for you.
6. You have no work-life balance
You deserve to have a full life outside of work. No one should be on the clock after working hours. If your job requires that you be on-call at all times, it is toxic. If your job wants you to answer emails on Saturdays, your job is toxic.
7. You are treated unfairly
Your colleague was late and no one said anything, but when you were late and got pulled a meeting. Not enforcing the same rules for everyone creates an unpleasant hierarchy and is demotivating for everyone.
8. Your colleagues are not communicating with each other
You have no idea what is going on. Whether it is about a new product launch, a review, or even just when the next company meeting is, it is a warning sign of a negative workplace if there is no effective communication in the workplace.
9. You don’t feel a sense of belonging
You often get alienated by other employees. No one includes you in team activities, and you cannot stand the culture where everyone talks behind each other’s back or they initiate backstabbing talks about others when they are out for lunch.
10. There are too many unstructured meetings
All the meetings are long, frequent, and drain your time, energy, and morale. They use meetings as a way of giving instructions to other people, instead of listening to what others have to say. And the worst? They abuse the right to hold meetings when it could have been written in an email.
11. Your job is no longer enjoyable
It feels like you can no longer enjoy doing your work no matter how much you love it. The stress and anxiety from an unhealthy work environment and toxic people make you dread getting up and going to work. You only look forward to your paycheck at the end of the month but not necessarily for doing a good job or accomplishing anything.
Should you stay in a toxic work environment?
If you don’t like the toxic work environment, you could just quit. But you would be out of a job and unable to pay your bills. So, you have to make a decision.
Ask yourself. Is it the kind of job that will look good on your future resume? Do you think you could survive there by just keeping a low profile, staying out of office politics and gossip, and avoiding as much of the toxicity as possible? Do you think you could stick to the job for another year or two before you jump ship to something else?
But if the job is putting you through a lot of stress, if the work expectations are beyond what you can handle, if you have a bad boss, if your coworkers are toxic, then you need to find a way out. Don’t put yourself in a bad position by quitting before you have something else lined up.