The Key Signs You’re in a Toxic Workplace 


We all have bad days at work now and again. Sometimes projects fail, meetings don’t go as planned, and targets are missed. Other times we may have disagreements or simply lack motivation. But if you face these kinds of challenges on repeat with no let-up, they could be indicative a toxic work environment.

Toxic workplaces have many detrimental effects on businesses and employees, from low morale and productivity to high staff turnover and illness. The latest Labour UK Force Survey shows 828,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2019/20.

So if you’ve been dissatisfied at work recently, what are the key signs you could be in a toxic workplace?

Inadequate health and safety

All businesses have a duty of care towards their staff. But when certain standards aren’t met, workers are put in danger through no fault of their own. Common workplace hazards include trips and falls, muscle strains, repetitive straining injuries, toxic fumes and loud noise.

It can be tempting to stay quiet and protect employers – but disclosing information on poor health and safety is important in preventing repeat incidents. If seeing a medical professional, it can also reduce the risk of suffering hospital negligence.

Poor communication

Toxic workplace communication can take various shapes and forms, from abusive leadership to out-of-hours demands, cliques and gossiping.

Whatever the issue and wherever it’s coming from, the best tactic is usually to confront the problem and its perpetrator(s) head-on. You could approach this alone or as a team, with the help of HR or your manager for example.

Stress and low morale

Burnout is a very real and serious problem that can arise from stress-based triggers such as demanding workloads and lack of support. It may also occur when we’re under-challenged and therefore unmotivated.

Both situations can lead to low morale and force you to consider whether a role or workplace is right for you. Prolonged mental or physical exhaustion are key symptoms to look out for.

High staff turnover

The chances are that if you’re noticing these problems, other people are too. And whether it’s struggling to retain new starters or dismissing long-term stalwarts, high staff turnover can paint a clear picture of a toxic work culture or regime.

While it’s normal to move around during your career, speaking to those who are leaving will help identify larger problems.

Have you ever experienced a toxic workplace? Look out for these tell-tale signs to protect your career and personal happiness.


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