We spend most of our lives working. Because of that, your co-workers are very likely to be the people that you interact with the most in your life.

But if you are not happy with your work environment, this displeasure will carry over to your personal life, leading to low confidence and damaged personal relations.

Toxic work environments are, as the name says, toxic. And having to work in this sort of environment can negatively impact your health.

But how can you tell if you are working in a toxic environment? Here are ten signs to look out for:

1. You Hear the Words, “You’re Lucky to Have a Job”

If your boss or HR manager told you this in a one-on-one meeting, then it is a huge red flag. Telling someone that they’re lucky to have a job is a scare tactic that doesn’t motivate you to do your job to the best of your ability, but makes you want to hold on to your job out of sheer fear.

This tactic can often make people feel they’ve been bullied into staying in a marginalized role, and it is also a symptom that the organization thrives on controlling and manipulating staff.

2. Too Many Managers

At my former workplace, I used to work as a supervisor and I reported to my line manager. My line manager had a senior manager, who reported to our team’s department manager, who reported to the Managing Director. I had four levels of management above me, and whenever I put forward an idea, I had to go through the four tiers for approval. It was incredibly frustrating and made me wonder what half of these managers did.

Sometimes, I have noticed that middle-management won’t want to go ahead with a good idea (I’ll explain in the next point). According to The Wall Street Journal, over two-thirds of employees from across the globe say they need to report to more than one manager to do their jobs. All these different layers of approvals waste a lot of time, and put a dent in productivity.

3. Office Politics

Some organizations are filled with people who want to serve their interests and not the company’s objectives. Coming back to the last point about middle-management not going ahead with your good idea, the main reason is that they feel threatened by you. So they find ways to reject your idea, mainly by showing you the red tape, so you won’t get noticed by someone higher-up. The last thing middle-management, that work in these toxic environments, want is to lose their jobs to someone below them.

That said, office politics is in pretty much every organization, mainly in large organizations that have hundreds, even thousands of employees. Smaller organizations have little or no office politics, mainly because they don’t have many managers. Regardless, you should be in a position where you feel you can achieve your career goals.

4. Office Gossip over Staff Well-being

Besides management, office cliques can sometimes spread unwelcoming rumors about colleagues. This can lead to isolation and people feeling victimized. In some worse cases, office cliques can even transpire against management or company direction.

Do keep a close eye on these people, and keep a respectful distance at all costs. We usually encourage people to build friendships with their co-workers, even following them on social media, but there are some situations where you need to be more cautious.

5. Poor Communication

Lack of communication is a strong sign of a toxic workplace. Some organizations leave people out of the loop regarding important company information. And in terms of feedback, you may receive little or no feedback at all, and when you do, it’s pretty harsh and negative. It’s not constructive or encouraging at all, more threatening.

6. High Turnover

If you notice everyone is generally miserable, and no one has a smile on their faces or shows any sign of enthusiasm, then there’s no passion to stay in the job. Companies that have low staff morale tend to have a high turnover.

7. Disorganized

Do meetings feel like a complete waste of time where nothing gets accomplished? Or have you noticed that departments are disjointed and are not in line with each other? If you noticed that there is laziness, confusion, lack of focus, and overall unwillingness to try something new because “that’s how it has always been done”, then it is a sign of poor leadership.

8. Blame or Accusatory Culture

This is perhaps the worse sign. Blame culture shows there is a lack of trust between colleagues and management and shows that there is no push to find a co-operative and harmonious resolution.

You find that you are always having to cover what you are doing just to protect yourself. And even though you should cover yourself in general, when you are doing this in a blame culture, you will become extremely anxious.

9. A Bad Boss

This is an easy sign to spot. Bad bosses are always trying to control everything and are always on the lookout for small slips so they can point the finger at you. This type of behaviour is demoralizing and lowers one’s self-esteem.You’ll notice your boss tends to wield his or her power around, just to remind everyone who is in charge. They’re not likely to help or give you credit for a decent job well done. They might even humiliate you in front of everyone as well.

10. You Sense Something Is Wrong

Half the time, your gut instinct will tell you that there is something wrong. If you feel something is not what it seems, then you may be right. If you are asked to hide something or do a task that isn’t morally correct, then these are clear telltale signs that you are working in a toxic environment. Pay attention to any physical symptoms. Are you getting sleepless nights? Are you always on the edge? Your body is telling you something, so pay attention to it.

Thanks for reading! Have you worked in a toxic environment? Do you know of any other signs to look out for? Let us know in the comments section below.

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