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Being in a toxic work environment can be extremely difficult and detrimental. It is damaging to an employee both inside and outside of the workplace. Many people don’t notice they are in such an environment until they are burnt out and at a complete loss for what to do. Fortunately, there are many indications of an unhealthy and harmful workplace.
To determine if your work environment is toxic, look out for the following signs:
Employee sickness: Too much job-related stress can render you ill or perpetually fatigued. If your coworkers are constantly showing up or calling in sick, this may be caused by the work environment. Additionally, if employees are coming in sick, they may be scared of calling in even if their health requires it, which is another sign of a negative environment.
Poor leadership from your boss/supervisor: This will typically manifest itself as your boss making you feel inferior or as if they have some kind of power over you. They may say things like, “I’m your boss and you have to listen to what I say.” Similar examples are being treated like you don’t matter, like you’re not doing a good job, or like your opinion is insignificant.
You dread going to work everyday: Of course, everyone is usually more excited right when starting out at a new job, and the excitement eventually dies down. However, if you wake up every morning and dread the thought of going into work, this can be a huge red flag that the office is unpleasant enough for you to not want to come in.
Coworkers gossip about each other: In a healthy work environment, your colleagues should respect you, and if something bothers them or you did something incorrectly, they should politely let you know. If instead, they are constantly talking about you or others behind each other’s back and never directly discussing the issue with you, they may not be the best people to work with. You should never be afraid of bringing up something that irritates you with a coworker one-on-one. Colleagues should also not be spreading rumors about others.
No enthusiasm from anyone: Of course, going to work isn’t always fun, but it shouldn’t be miserable either. If no one in your office is excited to work, this is a red flag. You can tell by someone’s body language and tone of voice if they are happy to be there or if they would rather be somewhere else.
Lack of communication: Lack of communication in the office is a huge indicator of being in a toxic work environment. Examples include your coworker purposefully not telling you what your boss wants you to do, your supervisor making side comments about how you’re doing instead of giving you constructive criticism, or feeling like you and your coworkers will never be on the same page.
Constantly being ignored or neglected: Every employee’s voice should count in the workplace. You should never feel like your voice doesn’t matter or like people purposefully keep you out of the loop. If people always forget to include you in emails or you never know what’s going on in the room, there are high chances your work environment is toxic.
Expectation to work overtime without compensation: Any healthy work environment will pay you for all the time you spend working, especially if you are working extra hours. Additionally, you should not constantly be asked to stay late to finish a project.
Constant pressure: This typically manifests itself as fear of saying no to requests. Yes, this is your job and you do have duties to fulfill, but if you are feeling pressured to do something that is out of your job description or makes you uncomfortable, this can mean you are in an unhealthy environment, particularly one where you do not feel comfortable speaking up.
Endless criticism: Feedback is necessary to grow and do better but if you feel like you are unable to go a whole day without someone having something to say about the way you work, it may not be your fault. Your boss and coworkers may be belittling you. You should experience a healthy balance of praise and critique.
No one wants to be in a toxic work environment. It is physically, mentally, and emotionally tiring. You can burn out and eventually lose your sense of happiness and worth. If you aren’t sure what kind of environment you work in, the criteria listed above can be a great way for you to determine if you are in a toxic work environment you need to get out of.
My name is Linda Tran. I'm 24 years old from Boston and I'm majoring in Marketing with a concentration in Social Media at the Southern New Hampshire University. A fun fact about me is that I learned coding and HTML at the age of 11.