It’s fair to assume that most business owners seek to provide a good environment for their staff, understanding that a positive workplace tends to result in a more productive business. However, it is nevertheless true that some workplaces can become toxic. And if you find yourself working in such an environment, your ability to enjoy your job and take pride in the work you do will likely be impacted.
Strange as it may sound, many women often find it difficult to identify a toxic workplace environment. It can be tough to know the difference between a standard tough workplace that aligns with modern values, and one that crosses the line into outright toxicity. There are, however, a few signs that can help you to identify a toxic work environment, as we have detailed below.
Signs of a Toxic Work Environment #1: The Staff Bad Mouths the Company and Superiors
Not everyone loves the company they work for, and that’s absolutely fine. However, if everyone in the office regularly talks negatively about the business and its leaders, it can be a bad sign. Often this shows up when leaders give instructions or feedback and staff immediately grumbles, complains, and criticizes superiors. Furthermore, this is usually done among a group or clique that fuel each other. Steer clear of conversations that involve undermining your bosses and the business at all cost. It’s a toxic trap that will not end well for anyone.
Signs of a Toxic Work Environment #2: Bullying or Abusive Behavior is Not Taken Seriously
The way a company, as a whole, responds to bad behavior such as aggression or sexual harassment is telling about the culture and values. For example, a staff member shouts at another employee and belittles her. If the aggressor is defended by other members of staff (“that’s just how they act” or “I know it’s a lot, but it’s just how they get things done”) then the workplace as a whole has come to accept and see such behavior as a standard – a sure sign of an overall toxic culture.
Signs of a Toxic Work Environment #3: Gossiping is the Norm
It’s natural for employees to become interested in one another’s lives. Conversations between employees are actually healthy in a work environment and can help to lift company morale. That said, if those conversations turn into gossip sessions about others, toxicity has taken over. Passing judgment on the actions of another employee or speculating about their personal life is not appropriate behavior on any level, especially at the office. Furthermore, if management involves themselves in the gossip, negative consequences are even more likely.
Signs of a Toxic Work Environment #4: Passing the Buck or Blaming Others
In a healthy workplace environment, members of staff are accountable for their actions. In a toxic one, blame, excuses, and throwing others under the bus is common. Unfortunately, it might not be discovered in a timely manner either. For example, a customer service rep blames the delivery staff for an issue with a customer order, rather than examining their own actions. If this blame-passing is tolerated, accepted, or even encouraged by others, the company will not keep quality staff and will suffer in many ways.
If you recognize any of the signs above, it is important to know you do not have to tolerate such an environment. If you feel your workplace is harming your mental or emotional well-being or compromising your ability to do your job, try and address the issue with your superiors. If things can’t be resolved, maybe it’s time to move on.