A toxic workplace can add unnecessary stress to your life. So, while you might be excited to have landed your dream job, you should have some toxic workplace checklist to look out for at the back of your mind.
Some of the major toxic workplace checklist includes lack of communication, micromanaging, and abusive and high bosses/supervisors.
What is a toxic workplace?
Before we get into some of the toxic workplace checklist, what is a toxic workplace? According to Wikipedia, A toxic workplace is plagued by personal conflict. Admittedly, this definition is quite simplistic, but it captures the crux of a toxic work environment.
A toxic workplace is one in which hostile, confrontational, or bullying behavior is tolerated. Employees are pressured, a blame culture prevails, and workers or leaders are rewarded for engaging in destructive or unethical behavior.
Toxic Workplace Checklist: Warning Signs to Look Out For
How do you tell if your workplace is toxic? Well, we will discuss some warning signs of a toxic workplace:
Here is top 30 toxic workplace checklist to look out for:
1. Constant criticism and negativity
If you are anything like me, then you can’t survive in a toxic environment. Thus, if your boss or supervisor continually belittles or ridicules you, then that is a major red flag. Ideally, a workplace should promote positive feedback rather than harmful criticism.
For instance, if your boss publicly disrespectfully criticizes you rather than offering helpful comments privately, then it might be a sign that you are in a toxic environment.
2. Lack of communication and transparency
Constant communication and feedback is one of the crux of a healthy workplace. Any successful team relies on effective communication. It follows that a toxic work environment is plagued by miscommunication, which might result in crucial information being exploited manipulatively.
3. High turnover rates
Any healthy organizations should be worried if they are affected by high turnover rates. When a company struggles to maintain top talent, it is a telltale sign that employees are unsatisfied with the workplace.
High turnover rates could result from poor compensation, lack of growth opportunities, and, most importantly, a toxic workplace environment.
4. Overbearing Office Politics
Unhealthy competitiveness, gossip, and backstabbing may easily devolve into a toxic workplace. It is an obvious red flag if employees are more concerned with office politics than with their real work.
5. A lack of empathy and understanding
Empathy and understanding can go a long way in keeping employees happy. Thus, if your management does not demonstrate empathy or rejects your concerns, you are likely in an unhealthy workspace. For example, if you are dealing with the loss of a loved one, your employer needs to be understanding and should allow you some degree of flexibility.
6. Unrealistic expectations and overwork
Waking up every day to spend 8 hours at work is already a hard decision; coupling that with excessive hours and unrealistic expectations can be dire to your mental health. This type of strain results in stress and burnout.
7. Exclusionary and discriminatory behavior
Most companies claim to be inclusive and diverse. In practice, it can be a different thing altogether. Some organizations are plagued with discrimination based on race, gender, age, or other variables. If you notice such, you don’t need a prophet to tell you that your work environment made it to the toxic workplace checklist.
8. Bullying and harassment
This is quite obvious, isn’t it? Verbal, physical, or sexual harassment are strong indicators of an unhealthy work environment.
9. Fear-based leadership
Are you in an organization where the employees quiver with fear once the boss steps in? Well, that is definitely a red flag. Such fear cripples productivity and will ultimately limit your professional growth. Employees should be inspired and driven by their bosses, not terrified of them.
1o. There is gossip and cliquish behavior
Workplace gossip and cliques might seem much as they did when you were a teenager. Being on the outside of an active clique might seem isolating, but it’s better to avoid attempting to enter the circle or engaging in gossip in order to feel included.
11. Inadequate reward and benefits
If you are anything like me, then you probably take note of the salary expectations of any job opening. With rising inflation worldwide, it is understandable if you are concerned about remuneration. Research has shown that underpaying employees or failing to provide proper benefits is unethical and toxic. Employees may lose motivation if they believe they are not being rewarded for their efforts.
12. Employee health concerns and burnout
A significant rise in sick absence or burnout frequently suggests a hostile work environment. Chronic stress can cause serious health problems, including depression, anxiety, and heart disease.
13. Lack of development opportunities for professional growth
When employees feel stuck and perceive no opportunities for progress, they may be working in a toxic atmosphere. A healthy workplace encourages learning and growth.
14. Favoritism and unjust treatment
Favoritism, nepotism, or any other sort of preferential treatment can have a negative impact on staff morale. This produces animosity and a hostile environment.
15. Inadequate work-life balance
This point is adequately discussed in my post about maintaining a healthy work-life balance. A toxic workplace is one in which employees are frequently required to work late, on weekends, or during holidays. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is critical for avoiding burnout and preserving mental wellness.
16. There is tension in the office
If you can always hear a pin drop in the workplace and you’re not working in the library, it might be a clue that you’re working in an unhealthy environment.
17. Inadequate recognition and appreciation
Have you ever worked hard on a work project without any form of recognition or commendation? That must have sucked, right? This might not be such a strong indicator of a toxic workplace. You can always communicate such concerns to your boss if the work environment has a good communication culture.
18. There is no room for mistake
How will you learn if you don’t make mistakes? There are aggressive cultures in certain businesses where there is no space for mistakes. If you make a mistake, you will be humiliated and punished. Thus, employees will do all possible to avoid getting in trouble. Often, this manifests by blaming coworkers when something goes wrong rather than accepting responsibility for the error.
19. There is no trust between management and employees
News flash: If your boss is continually checking to see if you’re performing your job—a.k.a. micromanaging—this is an indication of toxicity. A looming supervisor may have an impact on productivity team morale, and make you doubt your own talents. You can and should speak with your management to see if they can allow you greater flexibility to carry out your job tasks.
20. Unmotivated employees
Employees in an unhealthy environment are motivated only by the need to make money. They are unmotivated, and it is possible that you may wind up performing the task that they are reluctant to undertake.
Your coworkers’ temperament might have a beneficial or bad influence on you. If you feel surrounded by coworkers who have no desire to progress and spend their time aimlessly, you should consider quitting.
21. Aggressive, passive behavior
Employees or managers may engage in passive-aggressive behavior probably because of underlying issues such as fear and insecurity. Indirect criticism imposing unneeded or unclear guidelines and regulations are all indicators of passive hostility.
22. Uncertain responsibilities
Have you ever worked in an organization where no one knew who was in charge of what? This can also lead to disagreements and conflict over certain roles. Strong leadership should clearly identify each employee’s tasks and step in when there are disagreements.
23. No training or reviews.
Entry-level employees require extensive training as well as assessments of prior performance. However, failing to provide employee training at the start of someone’s career almost always results in a hostile environment. In times of adversity, this leaves employees feeling lost and despairing. And the majority of employees will suffer for some time.
24. Subtle retaliation
Obviously, open retaliation for speaking out or opposing the leadership will not be permitted. Toxic leaders, on the other hand, are more subtle, retaliating in ways that appear to be merely protocol-following.
25. No cooperation among colleagues
A healthy workplace is marked by collaboration on initiatives, problems, and goals. However, a lack of coworker collaboration is an indication of a toxic workplace. When employees simply want to focus on their tasks and refuse to help others, this creates a toxic culture.
26. Inappropriate body language
Body language transmits more than words in a professional setting. Take note of how the staff interact with one another. Do they appear kind and inviting, or does their body language convey a negative attitude?
If your coworkers smile and are positive, you are in the right place, but if they make a snarky comment, give disgusted looks, or use frightening touches to threaten or raise voices, you should consider changing jobs.
27. You’re set up for failure from the start
If you get a promotion, nothing is taken off your plate, and new roles and responsibilities are added, you are most likely set up for failure from day one. If you’ve only recently joined the organization and no one has given you the tools you need to succeed, that’s a red flag.
28. Lack of leadership
A firm that does not have a leader who can assist it in going forward with its vision may create a toxic environment. If your organization has a history of individuals departing, it might be due to an uncooperative manager. If your manager wants the firm to succeed but lacks appropriate leadership qualities, this might be an indication of an unhealthy working culture.
29. There is no resolution to problems
If your firm ignores your concerns despite your repeated attempts to communicate them, you may become frustrated. Problems are meant to be solved as soon as they are raised. If such is missing, then there is a strong indicator that you are in a toxic environment.
30. Lack of Boundaries
Boundaries aren’t only about coworkers making unpleasant jokes. It can also include managers pressuring people to work late or put work above all other aspects of their lives. If you have recently joined an office, these hazardous workplace red signs may become apparent early on.
How to Survive in a Toxic Workplace
It’s critical to understand that there are elements beyond your control when striving to endure a toxic environment. It’s best to handle what you can while accepting that certain things are beyond your control.
Here are 7 practical ways to survive a toxic workplace:
1. Never bring work home
If bringing work home has become a habit, it’s time to say no to work files at the dinner table. There is no reason to bring poison into your house when you unwind and enjoy time alone or with family or friends. Say no to more assignments at the end of the day, and leave any files and pending emails at the office.
2. Clear up any misconceptions
If a coworker or employer is unfriendly toward you, clear the air and inquire as to why. Leave no space for guesswork, especially if your reputation is under threat. Approach the accountable individual and speak with them to ensure that you either stop the conduct or find a method to brush it off.
3. Stay away from the drama
If you have negative coworkers and authoritarian employers, make every effort to avoid the drama. Keep an eye out for cliques that exclude others and gossip. Only discuss job-related issues, and avoid drinking with toxic employees after work.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t speak out for yourself, especially if someone is being disrespectful. Speak out and be aggressive while being cool. Ensure that the disrespectful individual realizes that they have crossed a limit and that they may address the situation without being rude.
4. Define boundaries
Toxic jobs sap you in a variety of ways, which is why you need strong boundaries. When it’s time for a break, appreciate every minute of it in quiet. Take vacations when needed and refuse to answer calls to bring work home. If a coworker uses your belongings without your permission, confront them and request that they leave your items alone. Setting clear limits will go a long way toward assisting you in surviving a toxic workplace.
5. Exercise mindfulness
Remind yourself of who you are and what your goals are whenever you get the opportunity, whether at home or at work. Surviving a hostile job is simpler when you have a clear objective in mind and a timetable. Continue to remind yourself why you’re doing the job, and if you have an escape plan, utilize it to get through the day. Most importantly, remind yourself that you are more than your job and that you exist outside of it.
6. Bring joy to your workplace
Your mind needs regular reassurance that everything is fine. Surround yourself with good memories that are bright and lovely. Use a photo from your graduation, images from family and friends, or colorful remarks that make you happy. You might also recall these experiences if your supervisor disregards your limits and becomes rude. Stay positive by escaping to your happy zone in your thoughts.
7. Discover healthy coping mechanisms
Find healthy techniques to de-stress and manage stress and anxiety. If your buddy, partner, or spouse is willing, ask them to listen to you while you complain about your job. To avoid emotional outbursts at work, talking to someone might help you release pent-up tension. If you don’t have someone to talk to, consider keeping a journal or recording private voice notes in which you complain about your job.
Aside from talk therapy, you may try running, going to the park, swimming, or walking your dog. If you have time, go food shopping, cook, have a snack at a local café, or sit on the beach. Make an effort to leave the office on time and to engage in a soothing and fun activity to help you cope.
Solutions to Improve a Toxic Work Environment
Does your organization suffer from some of the toxic workplace checklists outlined in this post? Well, it is time to get to work!
Here are 7 major ways to improve a toxic work environment:
1. Encourage honest and open communication
Encourage staff to share their thoughts and concerns. Regular team meetings and one-on-ones can help.
2. Encourage feedback and openness
Transparency fosters trust. Distribute critical information to staff and urge them to do the same. Implement a feedback mechanism that allows staff to contribute their ideas anonymously.
3. Put in place anti-discrimination policies
Create unambiguous anti-discrimination and harassment rules. Regularly train your personnel on these policies.
4. Provide opportunities for professional development
Encourage employee development inside the organization by offering learning opportunities and possibilities for progression.
5. Recognize and value employee contributions
Make it a practice to recognize hard effort. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how minor. This has the potential to increase morale and motivation.
6. Ensure competitive compensation and benefits
Review your pay packages on a regular basis to ensure they are competitive and fair.
7. Promote work-life balance
Employees’ personal time should be respected. Encourage getaways and breaks.
Impacts of a Toxic Workplace
Here are 3 major impacts of a toxic work environment:
1. Physical health concerns
Working in an unhealthy environment is similar to a tick bite in that you don’t understand what’s going on until all of your blood has been taken, and you’re left with the disease’s aftermath. A hazardous workplace can have a major detrimental influence on employees’ physical health.
Long-term stress can raise the chance of developing health problems such as heart disease, digestive issues, and weakened immune systems.
2. Mental health issues
Working in an unhealthy environment not only causes physical health problems, such as headaches and high blood pressure, but it also has a negative impact on your mental health. Anxiety and depression are common in this type of setting, and it’s easy to understand why: it’s difficult to stay optimistic when you’re always under pressure, unsupported, or underappreciated.
3. Workplace performance
When a workplace becomes toxic, not only do the employees’ health suffer, but the organization’s overall productivity might suffer as well.
When employees are overworked, underappreciated, and disengaged, it’s natural for them to become unmotivated and unproductive, resulting in lower productivity, missed deadlines, and lower job quality.
Conclusion: Toxic Workplace Checklist: 30 Signs and Red Flags
Understanding the indications of a toxic workplace and taking proper action is critical for your employees’ well-being and the success of your firm. The toxic workplace checklist outline in this post can help you identify and solve these concerns.