Signs You’re in a Toxic Work Environment

Signs You’re in a Toxic Work Environment

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A Toxic Workplace May Have Poor Communication

Insufficient, confusing, or scattered communication is the culprit of so many problems in the workplace. In fact, communication skills are the most important skills needed in any successful organization. Why? So much falls under the communication umbrella—including listening skills (both as a manager and an employee), verbal 

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A Toxic Workplace May Have Poor Communication

communication, written communication, preferences on how to communicate—the list goes on! So, how do you tell if bad communication is leading to workplace toxicity? Here are a few examples of bad communication. – Overall lack of communication is a core issue – Constant lack of clarity 

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A Toxic Workplace May Have Poor Communication

around projects – Different employees receive different messages – Passive-aggressive communication – Weak listening skills – Constant “off-hours” communication

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A Toxic Workplace May Have Cliques, Exclusion + Gossipy Behavior

We all know what a clique looks like. It’s the group of people—whether at work or at school—that sticks together, grabs each other coffee, laughs at inside jokes (of which they somehow have roughly one million), and generally excludes anyone outside of their tight-knit ring. And, while we are all adults here, it can feel extremely alienating to exist on 

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A Toxic Workplace May Have Cliques, Exclusion + Gossipy Behavior

the outside of an active clique. Simply put, cliques are counterproductive in the workplace. While having workplace friends and acquaintances is good, any behavior that can be described as “clique-ish” is best to be avoided. Steer clear of any cliques, workplace bullies, or exclusionary groups. Nobody wants to go back to middle school, no matter how good the benefits might be.

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A Toxic Workplace May Have Cliques, Exclusion + Gossipy Behavior

Here are a few warning signs you’ve got some Heathers (or Harveys?) in your office: – Constant feeling of exclusion from a group of people – A particular group of toxic employees that lunches, grabs coffee, and organizes happy hours together – Projects often are offered to a particular group, regardless of talent or experience

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A Toxic Workplace May Have Bad Leadership

There’s the old saying, “You don’t leave a job, you leave a bad boss,” for a reason. Bad leadership can seep into every fiber of an organization—and it often does.  We profiled eleven types of bad bosses and how to handle them, but here’s the thing… Sometimes a bad boss is the product of their bad boss—and so on. It’s this generational 

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A Toxic Workplace May Have Bad Leadership

hierarchy of poor leadership that make the overall workplace—you guessed it—downright toxic. Bad bosses wear a variety of hats. You might have a micromanaging boss who constantly corrects you, undermines your decisions, and ultimately disallows you from doing your job.

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A Toxic Workplace May Have Bad Leadership

You might have the “Blame Game” boss, who is quick to pass mistakes on to anyone but themselves. Or, you might be lucky enough to have the “No Respect” boss, who emails at all hours, forgets how to spell your name, and likely doesn’t even know what you do. The takeaway? Bad leadership is a sign of a toxic workplace if you have no recourse.

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A Toxic Workplace May Have Bad Leadership

Leadership conduct is extremely important. It sets the tone for how others behave at work. If there is an HR department—or if your bad boss has a pretty decent boss—you can try communicating these issues.

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A Toxic Workplace Likely Has Unmotivated Coworkers

We’re not saying that you should judge your work on the quality (or lack of quality) of those around you. However, when you find yourself in a workplace full of unmotivated coworkers, it’s going to take its toll on you. You might have two reactions to unmotivated coworkers. – You’re going to shoulder a ton of work that they aren’t 

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A Toxic Workplace Likely Has Unmotivated Coworkers

handling—and find yourself burnt out – Their lack of motivation is going to bum you out—and burn you out with a type of underchallenged burnout Just like your colleagues can motivate you to work harder, be better, and incubate new ideas, they can wear you down. Unmotivated employees are usually a result of a much larger organizational problem.

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A Toxic Workplace Likely Has Unmotivated Coworkers

Perhaps it’s bad communication from the top. It might be disorganization, disenfranchisement with leadership, or general distrust. Whatever it is, if everyone around you is unmotivated, you’re in a toxic work environment. The takeaway? Unfortunately, unless you’re in a leadership position, this problem is 

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A Toxic Workplace Likely Has Unmotivated Coworkers

indicative of much larger problems—and it’s unlikely that you are going to learn or grow in this environment.

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A Toxic Workplace May Have Stifled Growth

Speaking of growth, if you’re not experiencing it, your workplace might be toxic—even if it’s just personally toxic for you. If your workplace doesn't seem to offer any mobility, learning opportunities for advancing your skills or career, or mentorship, they are likely not invested in the growth of their employees. Once you’ve 

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A Toxic Workplace May Have Stifled Growth

recognized that you have nowhere to grow, it might be time to change the soil. The takeaway? Your job itself isn’t always responsible for inspiring and motivating you. However, if you feel completely stuck with nowhere to grow, it might be time for you to move on.

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A Toxic Workplace Likely Has Rapid Employee Turnover

Rapid employee turnover is a pretttttttty sure sign that a workplace is toxic. Leaving a job is a tough decision to make. When you notice that several people are making that decision, then something is really rotten. Conversely, if employees are constantly being laid off or fired, this can be a sign of a few other toxic elements.

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A Toxic Workplace Likely Has Rapid Employee Turnover

A high turnover rate usually means there’s disorganization, lack of direction, bad leadership, or little opportunity. Pay attention to the turnover rate in your company.

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A Toxic Workplace Often Has No Work-Life Balance

You deserve to have a full life outside of work. You should be able to toggle your Slack notifications to OFF. You should be able to leave an email unread after dinner on a Tuesday. You should be able to make your dentist appointment without feeling guilty. YOU SHOULD TAKE THE VACATION DAYS THAT YOU EARNED.

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A Toxic Workplace Often Has No Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is essential to survival. No human should be expected to be on the clock at all times. If your job requires that you be on-call at all times, it’s toxic. If your boss requires you to answer emails mid-Saturday—every Saturday—your job is toxic. Yes, at times, things come up at inopportune hours. However, if you are working under the 

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A Toxic Workplace Often Has No Work-Life Balance

expectation that you are always to be available for work, your job (in our humble opinion) is toxic garbage. The takeaway? A good way to avoid these types of toxic workplaces is by setting healthy work boundaries. If your boundaries can’t be met, or at least compromised, it’s probably not for you.

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A Toxic Workplace Leaves You Battling Burnout

We’ve touched upon burnout a little bit in this article. Burnout is more than a buzzword you may have heard around workplace jargon. Workplace burnout is recognized by the World Health Organization as a legitimate medical diagnosis. Burnout can be a surefire sign of toxic work environments—or at least a work environment that doesn’t “work” for you. 

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A Toxic Workplace Leaves You Battling Burnout

Here are three types of burnout. Do any of these sound familiar to you? Frenetic Burnout: Frenetic burnout is experienced by employees who put a ton of energy into their work in the hopes that the output will be rewarding. After a sustained period of dedicated work, the frenetic worker does not find positive outcomes.

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A Toxic Workplace Leaves You Battling Burnout

Underchallenged Burnout: This type of burnout occurs when an employee feels underchallenged and bored at work. Being unable to find any satisfaction in a job, the underchallenged employees find themselves in a lowered mood. Worn-out Burnout: The worn-out employee is someone who is resigned about their work 

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A Toxic Workplace Leaves You Battling Burnout

after experiencing consistent work stress over a long period of time. Having experienced negligible rewards, the worn-out employee feels disillusioned and uninspired by the job at hand. The takeaway? If you’re suffering from any of these types of workplace burnout, seriously consider fleeing your toxic workplace.

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A Toxic Workplace Has Little or No Forward Movement

Whether the seed is a bad manager, a damaging fiscal year, or an organization-wide failure to uphold the company’s mission, this is where things start to go south. If you find that you once described your job as “so great!” and that now you can’t muster a good word, you’re probably experiencing a brand new toxicity—one where you 

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A Toxic Workplace Has Little or No Forward Movement

will no longer move forward. If your movement stalls or halts to a complete stop, it’s usually the symptom of a larger problem. The takeaway? If there’s no forward movement in your career, especially in one where you previously experienced growth, it’s a sign that things are toxifying. It might be time to consider quitting your job.

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A Toxic Workplace Triggers a Gut Feeling

Just like when you eat spoiled food or too much candy, your gut is your best warning sign. If your intuition is telling you that your workplace is bad, it’s probably bad. If your anxiety is through the roof, if you suspect you're experiencing discrimination, if your physical health is suffering—and all of this is happening on a regular 

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A Toxic Workplace Triggers a Gut Feeling

basis, there's a big problem. The takeaway? Trust your gut. If you need to get a second opinion from a friend or loved one, do so. But, your gut is a pro.

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