Is your office toxic

by | 10.05.24

People began leaving their jobs in record number in 2021 to find a better work life balance and a toxic workplace culture was one of the main drivers of this mass exodus.  Toxic workplaces include atmospheres that are stressful, unethical, cutthroat, disrespectful and non inclusive.  A toxic workplace can contribute to employee stress and burnout.  Here are some signs that you should look for.

There is no room for mistakes

Nobody wants to make mistakes, but when the fear of mistakes paralyses employees, this is a sign of a threatening environment.  A threatening environment – often blame heavy – causes people to fear punishment for failures or mistakes this in turn makes people afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone.

There is a lack of trust

A toxic work environment typically lacks trust in their employees.  Management will constantly monitor staff, micromanagement typically makes employees doubt their ability.


There is role confusion

Without clarity on roles and responsibilities employees may worry about expectations.  This can cause workplace dysfunction.  Conflict can also arise amongst staff about responsibility and who needs to do what.

There is excessive stress

Employees can experience stress for several reasons including burnout, disagreement with management, lack of communication, fear of failure and uncertainty about job expectations.  Mental stress may start affecting employees physically by causing fatigue, sleep problems and depression.

There is lots of office gossip

Some office gossip may be normal, however gossip is usually more extreme in toxic workplaces.  Instead of clear communication, people whisper, stare and make snide remarks.  Workplace bullying can lead to depression, burnout and anxiety.  Gossiping about others is definitely bullying.

There is a high turnover of staff

High employee turnover rates are a red flag for a Company’s work culture.  There are several reasons people leave jobs, such as low pay, limited advancement opportunities and poor Company culture.  If there are few long term employees this usually is a sign of a toxic workplace.

There is gaslighting going on

Gaslighting was the word of the year in 2022.  When someone gaslights another person, they make a person question their own perceptions.  Examples of gaslighting include hearing gossip about yourself, feeling belittled about emotions, being excluded from meetings relating to your job and hearing negative accounts about your performance.

There is a lack of career support

Some employees feel there is no support to help them grow in their careers.  These employees lack mentorship and feel disconnected from the team.  This lack of guidance makes it difficult to determine the next steps to further their careers, there is also no management support.

There is low morale and negativity

Low employee morale can feed negativity into the entire workplace and affect others.  Any negativity needs to be addressed immediately.  Management needs to get to the root of the issue to prevent a vicious negativity cycle and have a more productive workplace culture.

There is sick guilt

Sick quilt is when a person feels shame and they can’t perform well when they are sick.  People with sick guilt avoid taking any time off and feel guilty when they do.  If staff are really sick they should feel comfortable to speak up, however sick leave can affect a Company’s performance so only the really sick should take time off.

So to finalise a toxic workplace can affect both employees and employers.  Employees working in a toxic workplace might suffer anxiety, depression and stress and are more likely to leave a job.  On the other hand productivity tends to be lower in a toxic environment.  So toxicity in the workplace damages everyone, identifying a toxic environment whether you are an employee or employer is essential but doing something about it is crucial.

Angela Burton