In a perfect world, the average workplace would always be a pleasant, respectful, and mission-focused environment. Employees would be free to focus on using their talents to the best of their abilities, in pursuit of a singular common goal. In such an ideal environment, the only stress would that directly related to the job. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. Far too often, the workplace can be a negative environment that disrupts every area of your life. In such a toxic work environment, it’s almost impossible for employees to achieve their true potential.
Here are the top 7 signs of a toxic work environment, and tips to help you handle it.
A toxic workplace is any work environment where the people, culture, and atmosphere are so negative that it disrupts the company’s efforts and even spills over into employees’ personal lives. Sadly, however, too many people fail to recognize the signs of toxicity. Fewer still understand how to fix a toxic work environment.
Often the first signs indicating that something is amiss manifest as physical symptoms for the employee. You may struggle to sleep at night, as your mind lingers on negative emotions from work. Sometimes, you may even feel unsafe, on edge, or suffer from a sense of impending dread. Your stress levels may increase, affecting your eating habits and overall health.
When you experience any of these physical symptoms, it’s important to take time to determine whether your workplace has become toxic. Begin by considering the chief toxic work environment characteristics, and whether your workplace exhibits those attributes. Here are the 7 top signs of a toxic work environment:
One of the most obvious signs of a toxic work environment involves ineffective leadership. Are the leaders and managers in your company narcissists? Have they created multiple standards that are applied unequally? Do they reject constructive criticism and only listen to their own counsel? Worse, are the neglectful and dismissive toward subordinates? If so, it’s almost a given that their attitudes help to foster a toxic work environment.
You might also notice a breakdown in positive communication among your peers and managers. Are people ignoring their co-workers? Do managers focus only on the negative, offering little positive reinforcement? That too could indicate a toxic work environment.
If your formerly cohesive office has now broken down into cliques, then that’s definitely toxic. These types of environments usually create inter-office conflict, as well as a culture that thrives on gossip and resentment.
A toxic work environment is so stressful that it can make people physically ill. If your office has a higher rate of sick leave, chances are that’s the reason. The employees are likely to feel burned out and fatigued.
Toxic work environments are often characterized by a high rate of employee turnover. Many people simply quit rather than deal with such environments. When you see your company’s turnover rate rise, you can bet that toxicity is at least part of the reason why.
In a toxic work environment, you may be so depressed that you fail to recognize that you’re not alone in those sentiments. Are your co-workers less-than-enthusiastic these days? Is there a general sense of malaise? That’s a sure sign that the workplace has become toxic.
When was the last time you felt as though you were appreciated and welcome at your company? When you feel out-of-sorts, underappreciated, or just unwelcome, consider that a clear sign that your workplace is a toxic environment. Even if you’re the only one who feels that way, it’s still a toxic work environment for you.
You might wonder how you can fix a toxic work environment or survive a hostile work environment. Obviously, the best option often involves escaping a toxic work environment, but that’s not always something you can do right away. Here are some tips to help you deal with a work environment that has become toxic:
Most companies today use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to automatically screen your resume. These systems automatically screen your resume to see if you’re a good match for the position.
Make sure that you use a standard resume format so that the ATS could easily read the resume. You should also include keywords (hard skills) that are relevant to the position.
Once you identify your workplace as a toxic work environment, it’s up to you to act. In some instances, that culture may turnaround, but it won’t happen overnight.
Meanwhile, you will need to either learn to cope or start looking for a new job. In the end, the important thing is to recognize the problem and choose your own solution.