5 signs to know if you’re in a toxic work environment

You’ve been feeling bored with your work for a while now. You don’t have the same energy you had at the beginning and the creativity that you brought when you were hired has stalled.

The work environment is key for you to be productive at work and to lead a healthy mental and even physical life.

Some signs of a bad work environment are:

  • You feel unmotivated because for various reasons you’ve slowly been disappointed about that place seemed to be the ideal one.
  • You just do your job and feel no desire to give more. You know you could do better, but you just feel that it’s just not worth the effort.
  • It’s hard for you too get out of bed in the morning, and once you get to your workplace you can’t stop looking at the clock every 15 minutes, looking forward to the time of departure.
  • You feel tired most of the time, even when you’ve slept for a sufficient amount of hours. You’re late for work and are one of the first to get out.
  • You have recently experienced changes in your appetite, muscle aches, headaches, stomach problems or other series of physical and mental symptoms.
  • You notice that not only does this happen to you, but some of your colleagues are also in the same situation.

Does this sound familiar?

Since our work is where we spend most of our day, it is necessary to make this a pleasant and appropriate environment for our mental health, not just a source of income.

One reason is that we naturally seek recognition and self-realization, as proposed by the renowned American psychologist Abraham Maslow in the paper “A theory of human motivation”. Read more about it here 

When these needs are not met and we start to experience negative emotions regarding our abilities, and our work environment, we must stop for a moment and think: Are we in a toxic work environment?

Bored_human resources_jason hanold_toxic work environment

Image courtesy of Steve Koukoulas at Flickr.com

What is a toxic work environment?

It is the one where human interactions occur in a repetitively dysfunctional manner, thus becoming an intrinsic pattern as part of the internal culture.

The dysfunctionality in interactions comes from high office. From there comes the leadership style that the rest of the company will immediately adopt.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common signs that occur in toxic work environments, which can help you identify if you are in one of them:

  1. Absenteeism

It is normal for people to get sick, have medical appointments or need to attend an activity that will occasionally force them to take time off work. But when this behavior becomes repetitive, it could be a warning sign.

Skipping work at least three times a month, constantly asking for permission to leave either for personal errands, medical appointments, illness, and so on, is a typical form of absenteeism.

Another form of absenteeism is the mental absence, which is getting to your workplace and using most of your time undertaking activities that are not related to your delegated tasks.

  1. Verbal or psychological abuse from your bosses

There is no respect in the way that the management treats the staff. They indiscriminately use cynicism and sarcasm when addressing employees.

This is also reflected in the statement of derogatory comments, destructive criticism and comparisons between peers, encouraging competition instead of teamwork.

  1. Miscommunication

A harmonious communication between staff members doesn’t exist. Usually “messengers” are sent or notifications are made with little formality.

Another form of miscommunication in a work environment is to not express verbally or in writing certain information, but to assume that the other person knows or should know it.

In many of these cases, the bosses are neither clear nor specific as to how they want certain tasks to be performed, waiting for their subordinates to “read their minds” or guess said details.

  1. No protection for the employee

The company for which you work is more concerned by their self-interest (customers, cost savings, and so on) rather than the interests of their workers.

Normally in these businesses there are no staff turnovers nor promotion prospects. Training relevant to the position or career plans are not offered.

People can perform the same job for years with no chance of being promoted or even being considered for a promotion.

Internal personnel policies are unknown and they change without notice. Usually, these sudden changes are to the disadvantage of workers.

  1. Dictatorial or autocratic leadership

In this type of leadership, the boss is the one who makes decisions, no matter what the rest of his team thinks. He doesn’t listen or care about the opinion of others, leading employees to be afraid to talk about any disagreement situation for fear of reprisals.

Such leaders are distrustful people, as they believe that only they can do the job well, and no one knows as much as them.

Often this distrust is due to a leader’s internal insecurities, especially when one of his employees stands out and somehow can begin to be seen as a threat.

Related contents

How to improve the job interviews in your company