How to Identify A Toxic Workplace

How to Identify A Toxic Workplace

Going to work can be a challenge sometimes. We all agree. We dread Mondays, love the weekends, wish we never have to work at all, or dream of longer paid vacations. However, we can still love and enjoy our jobs regardless of these common challenges. But is it still normal when even the mere thought of going to work leaves you breaking out in cold sweat, makes you physically ill, or increases your blood pressure? When you sit at work counting the hours till you get home. When your work environment feels like a prison you want to escape.


If your situation is similar to the above scenarios, then maybe it is time you evaluate your workplace because it sounds like you are in a toxic workplace. As is the case with some victims of abuse, employees who work in a negative work environment may not realize it till it gets too dangerous. What is a toxic workplace? No, it does not refer to a literal environment with harmful chemicals in this case. Toxicity in a workplace is very different from the normal stress and day-to-day challenges that are a regular part of work life. A toxic workplace is a very harmful and negative work environment. It disrupts your work-life balance and can make it difficult for you to be happy at work or out of it. The mental health of employees who work in a toxic environment is also at stake because the negativity dampens the enthusiasm to work and could even lead to burnout or a dangerous health condition like depression.

How then do you recognize the signs of a toxic workplace so that you can avoid or leave it? This article has highlighted seven signs to help you.


  • When Work Makes You Literally Sick: Our minds and bodies are connected. They work in sync. If you do not feel relaxed in an environment where you spend most of your time, it can make you physically sick. Employees who have worked in a toxic environment have related experiences of falling literally sick when working in those places. If employees in a workplace are always complaining of burnout, extreme fatigue, headaches caused by stress, or worsening of previous illnesses, then it is proof that the workplace is not healthy. As we have already pointed out if the thought of stepping feet in your workplace makes you break out in cold sweat, makes your palms sweaty, gives you palpitations, sitting at work makes you dizzy, or gives you any other signs of physical illness, then your workplace could be toxic. A blinking neon sign of a toxic workplace is also when a company or organization refuses to grant sick leaves and employees are forced to turn up for work even when they are sick.


  • When the Management and Leadership Feel Like a Military Regime: Do you have a boss that screams and shouts at you? Refuses to listen to any other person’s idea but theirs and throws a fit when corrected? Makes you jump by giving you tight deadlines and breathing down your neck while you perform your tasks? Threatens to sack you every time and actually carries out the threat by firing employees over inconsequential issues? Looks for every opportunity to berate and talk you down even in front of other people? Nitpicks your work? If your boss also talks to you in a demeaning way, sends you on errands that are not official, and expects you to clean up after them, then that screams toxicity.


  • Negative Office Politics: Is it difficult to make wholesome friends or build a viable professional network where you work? If the office politics where you work amounts to employees forming cliques, backbiting, sucking up, nepotism, gossip, and rumors or unhealthy competition, then toxicity has already been let in.


  • When the Company Focuses Only on their Profit and Neglects the Welfare of their Employees: If you work at a place that does not consider or compromises the health and safety of their employees, then that is a warning sign. For instance, if you work in a company that refuses to pay salaries on time nor gives a pay raise even with added responsibilities or a company that does not provide health insurance or safety equipment but insists that employees work excessively long hours or put in overtime with little or no pay to meet targets, then it is a toxic workplace. 


  • When there is no Communication: If you work in a place where you are not given feedback on tasks, not told how to carry them out and you find out that you cannot ask anyone for information or help, that is definitely a sign of negativity. It is worse when words of praise or encouragement are not given or when you are denied credit for a task you painstakingly carried out.


  • When There is No Room for Growth: Does your company or organization hinder all chances of growth in your career? If employees are not getting promoted nor their personal brands have been given any form of boost or recognition, then there is definitely a level of toxicity in that workplace.


  • When Work Interferes in Other Aspects of Your Life: Do you find yourself answering emails and work calls at home or during the weekends? Do you work during vacations? Do you receive work calls at odd hours like early in the morning or late at night? Your life after work should be your time to relax and destress. If you are on a vacation, you earned it and should enjoy every bit of it, probably spending time with friends and family and having fun. A toxic workplace does not want you to do that. It aims to upset your work-life balance and could destroy your relationship with close family members, maybe even lead to a divorce or separation.


Final Thoughts

We hope that going through this article has helped you identify if you are breathing positive air in your workplace or not. Working in a toxic workplace is dangerous because the chances of it getting worse are high. Why? There is no one to complain to and even when you do, actions may not be taken to make things better. So what should you do? Try your best to uplift yourself and remain positive as you plan your exit. Refrain from doing things that increase toxicity like gossiping, backbiting, or micromanaging your team when you are given an opportunity at leadership. Remember that toxicity is not something to endure. It is not just a bad day at work that will go away. If ignored, it can negatively affect your health, your career, and every aspect of your life.

Career Advice

Leave a Reply