It can be easy to ignore how toxic a workplace is, especially if you have been working at a company for a while and the situation has only recently become toxic.
At the same time, noticing signs of a toxic work environment early on is often best, since this allows you to either leave that work on your terms or do something about the people who are making the work environment more toxic. If you are applying for a position at a given company, knowing these signs can also help you avoid toxic work environments entirely.
With that in mind, here are some of the most common signs of a toxic work environment.
1 – Poor communication
Communication is often one of the first things to break down when work environments start to become toxic. That’s because people tend to hunker down and keep to themselves when they are stressed, especially if the stress is caused by the people in charge. If you find yourself not asking important questions because you want to avoid getting in trouble, that’s a bad sign. It’s also not a good sign when you feel like suggesting any type of improvement or change would cause more harm than good.
Vague orders that seem to serve no purpose are also not a good sign. Especially if the people in charge get angry after they find out that their vague instructions were not followed to their liking.
2 – Lack of enthusiasm
It’s sometimes subtle, but there is a difference between being bored and being depressed. A stressed and burned-out workforce will react to any new assignment with a groan and a sense of dread. A lack of enthusiasm can also be caused by a sense of detachment; it’s not a good sign when no one seems to care whenever there is company-related news, whether it be good or bad. Everyone just wants to survive to the end of the day.
Detachment can be caused by stress and burnout. It can also be the result of management dolling out punishments and rewards arbitrarily. If there doesn’t seem to be a clear relation about how people act and how they are treated by the company in return, eventually everyone stops caring.
3 – Favoritism and discrimination
It’s always a tricky issue when the people in charge start playing favorites, especially if the reason for the favoritism seems to have nothing to do with actual worker performance. Such actions are discouraging at the least, and may even be grounds for a discrimination lawsuit if they are based on protected attributes, such as race, gender, or sexual preference. If you think the latter is what’s going on in your workplace, it’s a good idea to get an employment discrimination lawyer free consultation.
4 – Off-hour intrusions
The only thing worse than enduring a toxic work environment is having it try to intrude on your personal life. It’s often a bad sign when the people in charge can’t seem to respect your private time and keep contacting you with pointless inquiries or involving you in office drama during your off-hours.