Is Your Workplace Dysfunctional? 11 Signs of a Toxic Working Environment

Feeling down lately at work? Maybe it’s not you – it’s your toxic workplace culture. And no, we’re not just talking about your stressful quotas and deadlines.

How do you know if you’re sensitive or if it’s your toxic working environment that’s been driving you nuts? Here are 11 clear signs your dysfunctional workplace is chaotic and unhealthy.

#1. Dysfunctional leaders lead you

How can a team of skilled employees perform efficiently if their boss has poor leadership skills? Here are different types of ineffective bosses:

  • A tyrannical boss –  this type of leader makes your dysfunctional workplace feel like a living hell. They love wielding their power, controlling your every move, and expecting you to come to work even when you’re dying.
  • A narcissistic boss –  They feel like they’re always right, and they demand you always agree with them. They expect everything to be perfect. They hold meetings but never listen to suggestions.
  • An incompetent boss –  this type of boss lacks intelligent leadership. You have no idea what their leadership philosophy is or if they even have a leadership philosophy.

#2. Everyone’s guilty of unhealthy communication patterns

A pervasive lack of communication or negative communication characterizes most toxic working environments. So it can be between employees and supervisors, across departments, with suppliers and even with clients.

Poor communication is manifested in many ways:

  • You and your peers don’t get enough HR and the necessary information to do your job.
  • You work your butt off, but you don’t get any positive feedback or recognition about your performance. And when you do, it’s harsh, not constructive.
  • You find out about the decisions made after they’ve been implemented
  • You notice patterns of indirect communication
  • Too many unhealthy patterns like complaining, sarcasm, cynicism, discrimination, harassment, and bullying.

#3. There’s little to zero enthusiasm in the workplace

Look around you – are you the only one who’s going through the same dilemma? Are your colleagues happy to be working there? Is anyone smiling or laughing? Are the discussions positive? Is anyone talking at all? Or are they just as unmotivated as you?

You need to know the difference between a quiet workplace full of busy, focused people and a dead workplace full of zombies craving life.

#4. You notice a high turnover (and they’re okay with it)

You hear multiple complaints about dissatisfaction in the dysfunctional workplace. You hear how much they hate their jobs, their boss, and the people around them. People are low key job hunting and giving themselves an ultimatum. So you’re not even surprised to see a co-worker fleeing.

#5. Employee sickness is rampant

Are you getting sick more often? Do you notice your peers calling in sick more often than usual? Your workplace may be the culprit. Due to sleep deprivation and high levels of stress, employees are more likely to have burnout, fatigue, and illness.

#6. Toxic colleagues surround you

Cliques, rumours and gossip floating around, infighting, misunderstanding, favouritism, backstabbing, paranoia, and other office drama – it’s normal to be anxious around your colleagues, especially if they make you feel like you’re back in high school. Toxic co-workers are most likely to be gathered in the pantry or a nearby restaurant during lunch break, gossiping and making up issues.

#7. You’re told at least once to feel “lucky to have a job.”

This scare tactic sends the notion that your feelings are not valid and it’s okay to stay in a marginalized position. If you’ve ever heard this line from the HR department, your boss, or your manager when you’re just expressing your concern, it’s a bright red flag.

#8. You can’t bring up legit concerns with the HR or manager

You know it’s getting bad when the people you expect to help you can’t help you. For instance, you already know they’re going to ignore your concern or even get mad at you for bringing up an issue or objection to a rule. None of their HR solutions can help when you open up about a sensitive matter, like sexual harassment in the workplace . Sometimes, they make it worse.

#9. People are promoted based on relationships

A good workplace offers every employee the chance to level up based on their years of experience, performance, and potential. But if the people are getting promoted based on their relationship with the superior, start questioning the credibility of the place you’re working for.

#10. There’s no transparency

Secret meetings, big decisions made out of the blue without everyone’s approval, and on-the-spot “confidential” employee evaluations – these are just a few examples of a workplace’s lack of transparency. While all offices have some degree of surprises, being consistently surprised by big events like these is a sign of a toxic culture.

#11. Your gut is telling you to leave

Feel like you’ve done everything to improve the situation, but nothing seems to be working? Listen to your trusty instincts – are they constantly telling you to quit your job?

In less than a month, we’ll be welcoming the year 2020. Now might be the perfect time to get out of your toxic workplace, start anew, and find career opportunities that will make you happy and set you up for success.