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10 Signs You’re in a Toxic Work Environment

Being in a toxic work environment is a very draining experience. Not only can it be damaging to your self esteem, but it can also harm your physical health in the long term. If you're wondering whether your workplace is toxic, here are the 10 signs to look out for.

10 Signs You’re in a Toxic Work Environment


Tech Talent Engine


Being in a toxic work environment can be a very draining experience. Although everyone gets itchy feet from time to time, a toxic workplace is more than just being unhappy.

If you have recently been experiencing challenges at work, here are 10 signs of a bad work environment.

1. Lack of communication

Strong communication is the backbone of any successful workplace. A toxic workplace often fails to practice basic communication, leaving employees confused.

Much like a relationship wouldn’t last without communication, workplaces can’t survive without clear understanding.

For example, do you often find yourself frustrated and not knowing about company decisions?

It could be that you’ve suddenly found out that you’re hosting an event next week and no one pre-warned you. These types of events happening consistently can cause disruption and frustration.

Although poor communication can sometimes be a mistake, when it happens frequently it stints progress and creates an atmosphere where employees feel hesitant to raise their concerns.

2. Bad leadership

It’s very rare that employees leave an organisation because of a job. Most people leave for a combination of reasons – a bad boss being the main concern.

So, what are the signs of bad leadership?

  • Micromanages you – They are always watching over your shoulder.
  • Plays the blame game – Always passes on mistakes to others.
  • Disrespects staff – Points out others' failures in front of the team.
  • Oversteps boundaries – Are they emailing you at all hours or during your time off?

A great leader should be a role model to the rest of the team. If you lack respect for your boss, then it’s time for you to leave.

3. Promotes burnout and an unhealthy work-life balance

Although we are strong advocates for working hard, there’s a fine line between working hard and working beyond your means.

For example, it could be that you work as a Software Developer for a medium-sized organisation. On multiple occasions, your manager pressures you to stay behind and work late nights to fix an issue, without receiving any additional pay.

While it shows a commitment to your work, unpaid work only leads to burnout and frustration.

4. Fast staff turnover

There’s nothing that says toxic workplace like a high staff turnover.

When people consistently leave their jobs, it’s a sign that they are unhappy, and the company may have issues with management, culture or other factors that drive employees away.

A company can provide a great salary, but if employees are principally unhappy, no one will want to stay in the long term. High staff turnover indicates that something needs to change.

5. Unmotivated team

If employees' needs are abandoned, over time, it leads to an unmotivated team and a lack of trust in higher management.

In a toxic work environment, employees may fear retaliation for speaking up about workplace issues or suggesting improvements. This fear can discourage team members from being proactive, sharing innovative ideas, or pointing out problems, leading to stagnation or demotivation.

As a result, employees will feel a lack of motivation in their day-to-day jobs.

6. Unhealthy competitiveness among employees

When favouritism runs rampant in the workplace, it can create an unhealthy sense of competition amongst employees, leading to frustration.

If promotions, raises, or opportunities seem to be given to certain individuals based on personal relationships rather than merit, it’s a clear sign of toxicity.

Combined with unrealistic workloads or expectations, this leads to a lack of transparency across the business.

7. Gossiping is rife

Gossiping from both colleagues and management is often considered a sign of a toxic work environment for several reasons.

Firstly, it deteriorates trust, making it a challenging environment to build strong working relationships. This creates divisions within a team, as it often pits employees against each other or fuels conflict.

Constant gossip can create a negative and hostile atmosphere in the workplace. When employees feel that their private conversations or actions are being scrutinised and discussed by their colleagues, it can lead to a sense of unease and decreased morale.

8. No growth

Toxic work environments may resist changes or improvements, preferring to maintain the status quo.

When employees’ suggestions for change or process improvements are consistently dismissed, it can lead to a sense of futility and loss of motivation to contribute to position transformations.

This can lead to stagnation and boredom, causing employees to lose interest in their work. Without opportunities for skill building and career growth, employees may feel trapped in their current roles with limited prospects for promotion or career progression.

9. Lack of respect for employees

Toxic workplaces may not prioritise recognising and rewarding employees for their hard work and accomplishments.

When efforts go unnoticed or unrewarded, this may cause employees to lose motivation and, as a result, start to question the value of their contributions.

In combination with unclear expectations, employees may feel uncertain about what is expected of them or feel that their efforts are constantly undermined by unclear directives.

This results in people feeling disheartened or disinterested in their work.

10. Bullying and harassment

If bullying and harassment occur in any workplace, it should be an immediate red flag.

Bullying can come in many forms, whether physical, verbal, or psychological. When team members are subjected to such behaviour, they are more likely to feel demoralised and demotivated, leading to decreased productivity and engagement.

It can manifest when a colleague or group consistently excludes or isolates a specific individual, whether socially or professionally. This isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and rejection.

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Feeling unmotivated in your current role?

An unmotivated team can be a telltale sign of a toxic work environment, characterised by distrust, poor communication, unclear expectations and many more.

Recognising these signs is crucial for both employees and employers, as addressing the underlying issues is essential for fostering a healthier and more productive workplace.

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