Are you spending your days in a toxic work environment? Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out just how bad your work situation is if you don’t have anything else to compare it to. Are all jobs terrible? Or are you working in an especially bad situation?
You don’t need to have all 40 of these bullet points in order for your workplace to be considered toxic. It just might take a few of these to justify wanting to leave. If you feel truly unhappy at your job, it will negatively affect the rest of your life. It may be time to get your resume ready and move on to better opportunities.
40. Your Boss Acts Like A Dictator
Nearly everyone has experienced having at least one boss who is a control freak and a total narcissist. They are high on their own supply and enjoy putting down their employees. In their eyes, they can do no wrong. If your boss is like a dictator, you may feel like you are walking on eggshells around them, and you are totally afraid to step out of line for fear of some kind of punishment.
A good leader should see themselves as part of the team, not the ruler. They are diplomatic and willing to listen to issues. You should not feel afraid of your boss. Unfortunately, you have no control over how other people behave. It is likely that your boss will never change who they are as a person. But you have the choice to not let yourself be trampled over by someone else by finding somewhere else to work.
If your boss is acting like a dictator, this goes hand-in-hand with having the constant fear of being fired. They typically dangle this possibility over the heads of the employees. More often than not, their boss makes them feel like they are not doing a “good job”. This makes everyone upset when they are at work. It also fosters mistrust, and people feel as if they cannot get comfortable in their position.
Even if your boss is not acting like a dictator, you still may be in a toxic situation if you realize that people are being fired for small infractions. Or, you see that once someone gets a bit too old, pregnant, or sick, they are suddenly told to leave the company. Having a sense of job security is extremely important for your productivity and mental well-being. How can you be expected to be loyal to a company if you know that they won’t be loyal to you?
Just because you start out in a low-level position doesn’t mean you will be there forever. After all, you just might be a future CEO who is brimming with amazing ideas. However, if a low-level employee makes a suggestion, it is sometimes ignored. Some bosses feel as if they are the only ones allowed to change anything in the company because they are the only people “smart enough” to do it. The reality is the exact opposite. Employees who are “in the trenches”- so to speak- often know better how to fix a problem, because they are dealing with the issues every single day.
When a boss doesn’t understand this, it can be a very frustrating to feel totally ignored and dismissed. If this is happening to everyone in the lower levels, and not just you, it means that it has nothing to do with the quality of your ideas. They may be great, and if they listened to you, it just might improve the company’s productivity. But if they cannot see the value in your creativity, it’s probably best to go to a different company that will appreciate it.
Back in high school, you could expect to find cliques of the “popular kids”. In case you aren’t aware, a “clique” is defined as an exclusive friend group that is difficult to penetrate, because they have really high standards about who is included. This might be common when you were a teenager, but this sort of behavior should not continue into the workplace. As coworkers, you should all be there to work together. It’s not necessarily the place where you make friends.
If there are cliques in your company, it means that the higher-ups never made the effort to foster a sense of community among everyone. When a small group of people is laughing and having a good time together but other people are excluded, that is a huge issue.
Do your co-workers constantly gossip about one another behind their backs? Or worse- does your boss seem to do it too? In these situations, some of the managers may go to certain cliques in order to find out what is going on in the company. This is incredibly toxic because the managers are getting a biased view of the situation. It also gives far too much power to the employees who are in your manager’s inner circle.
Of course, gossip between co-workers can be equally as toxic. You do not want people to be talking about you behind your back. This kind of environment fosters a sense of mistrust, and it only makes things more difficult when you’re trying to make friends. In a healthy work environment, people should have respect for one another. They should focus on their work instead of worrying about what you are doing.
One of the worst feelings in the world is when you cannot trust your co-workers. You are forced to spend the majority of your time with these people. It feels as though if you make a mistake, your co-workers will throw you under the bus and try to get your fired. When you first get a new job, it is difficult to know immediately if you are working with backstabbing people. More often than not, the only way you can find out that you cannot trust someone is when they have broken that trust. If you find that you told a co-worker about your personal life and your boss ended up hearing about it later, that is a sign you should never trust that person again.
Sometimes, it is simply an issue with one person. But if you realize that everyone in the office is behaving this way, it is probably a sign that they feel insecure in their jobs. They might also see you as a threat, so they are trying to sabotage you from rising in the ranks and taking their job. If they truly felt like they were comfortable in that workplace, they would have no reason to stab you in the back.
When you were in elementary school, teachers had designated bathroom breaks where all of the kids went to use the lavatory together. In high school, you had to ask permission from the teacher to get a hall pass. However, by the time you are an adult, it’s normal for you to have the freedom to get up and use the bathroom whenever nature calls. Unfortunately, some companies micromanage their employees to the points where they have have retained the primary school mindset. In some places, you need permission from the boss to use the bathroom, or you only get a 10-minute break once a day.
It is normal to wait until a co-worker can cover your position, but if you are forced to wait for hours to use the bathroom, that’s not healthy. In fact, if you hold it for too long, it may lead to a bladder infection and/or other medical issues. Unfortunately, there is no law protecting people’s bathroom breaks, so employers are allowed to limit them as they wish. So if this is becoming a medical issue for you, it may be time to find somewhere that is more relaxed with their policies.
Take a look around your office. Does everyone look the same? Is there a balance of male and female employees? If your company is not taking the time to think about diversity, that is a huge issue. This is a sign that they are very closed-minded about other things as well. Even if you fit into the demographic that exists in your company, you might be fooled into thinking that you are “safe”.
But that doesn’t mean that it will be a healthy situation for you. When businesses think in a bubble of a certain bias, it may mean that they are not looking at the big picture. You and your employees will all be working in an insular bubble. This could result in the company failing later on.
Does your boss ever tell you that you did a “good job”? Or do you feel completely ignored? In a healthy work environment, employees are recognized for their good work and shown some kind of appreciation. Even in larger companies where you do not have direct contact with your boss, healthy corporations usually have some kind of incentive system in place to make sure employees feel appreciated.
If you feel like your hard work goes unnoticed, you may wonder why you should be working hard at all. This kind of environment causes people to slack off at work because they know that no matter how much (or how little) they do, the results will still be the same. If you aspire to work hard, get noticed, and keep moving forward in your career, you need to go somewhere that will notice and appreciate your efforts.
31. Stress From Work Carries Over To Your Personal Life
Nowadays, everyone is talking about having a healthy work-life balance. You should be able to step away from your work at the end of the day and go home to enjoy time with your family. But if your work environment is making you so upset that you find yourself venting and complaining about it constantly, this is a very bad sign. You should be able to enjoy your free time without having your work consume your thoughts.
Stress from work can easily hurt your personal relationships. It may begin to change you into an unhappy, angry person. This is never attractive or desirable for anyone to be in a relationship with you. Along with money, these kinds of issues are often what leads to divorce. If you know for a fact that work is hurting your family, you should consider switching careers.
In a very competitive environment, there may be some people who will try to take credit for your work. This is most common if you are a new employee at a corporation. Someone in a higher position may try to steal your commission or get in good with the boss, in order to protect themselves. They may pretend to be your friends just so they can get close enough to steal your ideas. If you see someone acting like this, you need to distance yourself from them immediately.
It is possible that maybe it is just one person who is a bad seed. But if you find that everyone is constantly trying to steal the credit from one another’s ideas, this means that your co-workers have so little faith in themselves, that they feel the need to steal from others. This type of work environment is not only toxic, but it means that you will not have any positive influences. If you are the only one coming up with good ideas, you probably deserve much better.
High employee turnover is when a company has a high percentage of people who quit and it becomes necessary for them to always be hiring. That is a huge red flag that there is something seriously wrong with the company. After the 2008 recession, many people became so desperate for employment, that they decide to find and keep a job for years. If they are so unhappy that nearly half of employees are willing to quit, then it is a sign that the employers are doing something to make them want to run away.
If you find out during a job interview that there is a high employee turnover rate, then you should consider turning down the job offer. Even if it takes a few more weeks to find another job, you may want to take that time to find something that will make you happy in the long run. If you are already in a job where that situation is happening, trying to identify the reasons why people left. Are these reasons why others left affecting you in the same way?
Some employers treat their employees like they are robots. They are constantly talking about productivity and numbers without taking human limitations into consideration. Your boss may be pushing you to increase production or sales higher and higher every week. Usually, this is not physically possible. It’s not like you can insert a larger memory card or upgrade processing speed to become more productive overnight.
If they are not taking into account that you were a human being with emotions and a physical body, this is a sign that your boss has lost touch with reality. It may be that you are just another cog in the wheel to them instead of a person. More often than not, this boss will be convinced that if you are not willing to work that hard, they can find someone else who is willing to reach the level of productivity they desire. Even if you try to reason with them, they often don’t know how hard they can push people until they begin to see a high turnover.
Unfortunately, bullying does not stop after high school. These same difficult people will often go into the real world and to continue to bully others in the workplace. However, a good leader will know how to handle bullying and stop it before it begins. Harassment of any kind should never be tolerated. And if it is going unnoticed, this means there is something seriously wrong. You should be able to go to the HR department, but there are times when nothing can be done.
If you feel that your boss or co-workers are bullying you, it is a sign that you should leave. More often than not, they will never be satisfied with your performance no matter what you try to do. Never feel as if you deserve to be treated this way. It is okay to joke around with your friends but it is a completely different matter if people are mocking you and destroying your self-esteem.
If you can go into work every day feeling lucky and happy to be employed at your workplace, that is a good thing. But no one else should make that decision for you. If your boss has ever told you that you are lucky to have your job, this can actually be incredibly hurtful. The subtext is that they believe that you only deserve this job, or something far worse. Having someone say this to you can seriously hurt your self-esteem.
Even if you think that you can brush this off, it will seriously hurt your confidence. This is just one of the many ways that a bully boss will try to manipulate their employees to have more control over them. If you truly believe that you can’t do any better, that’s not okay. If you internalize that, you’re far less likely to move up in your career. Instead of listening to someone being pessimistic about your future, take it into your own hands.
One of the biggest signs of a toxic work environment is that everyone has a bad attitude. Is everyone complaining constantly about pretty much everything? It could even be about small things like the weather, or your boss’s attitude. Even if these comments seem small and harmless, this is still bringing negativity into the workspace and negativity tends to snowball out of control.
If you are constantly surrounded by people who are being negative and complaining, it puts this peer pressure on you to do the same. Then it becomes this vicious cycle of negativity that never ends. Even if your coworkers do not have any bad intentions by complaining, it can still bring you down and be a toxic place to work. If you know your co-workers do not have malicious intent, try to “kill them with kindness” by being positive, instead of negative. Hopefully, this positive attitude will help turn things around.
There is a saying that you are the summation of all of the people in your life. This is true with your friends, family and coworkers. If your coworkers are only doing the bare minimum at their job, that means that they truly do not care about their own success. Or it may be that they feel defeated after trying to work hard and never getting the recognition that they deserve.
No matter what the reason may be for your coworker’s laziness, this is still not the type of environment that will foster success. If everyone you are surrounded by is only doing the bare minimum and never trying to better themselves, they can have a negative effect on your attitude as well. Instead of letting it rub off on you, try to motivate your friends to do a good job. If all else fails, find a place to work where people care more about their careers.
There are certain professions where overtime is simply part of the work culture. For example, doctors often have to be on-call 24 hours. Lawyers may have to stay in the office until the paperwork gets done. However, these are very high-level positions that pay equally high salaries. Nearly every other job on the planet should never expect overtime to be the norm.
Companies that offer overtime sometimes run into a situation where the people who work the most hours are applauded while the regular nine-to-five workers are ignored. Some places treat work as if 60 hours a week is the bare minimum of what you need to do in order to gain anyone’s respect. If your boss is raising the level of what is deemed as a “good job” beyond 40 hours a week, it is a sign that they have lost touch with reality.
Even if a company appears to be diverse on the surface, it could just be for show. If you realize that women and people of color never get a raise or a promotion, this is a huge red flag. There are unfortunately a lot of companies out there who are willing to hire a diverse staff so that they don’t get labeled as “racist” or “sexist”. But the only people who ever get in the upper echelons of the company are white men.
In most cases, minorities are working just as hard (if not harder) than the white men, and yet they are never recognized for their talents. If this is the case, there are two ways to handle it. You could choose to sue the corporation, but it is often difficult to prove in court because these situations are often based on personal opinions. It may be better just to cut your losses and try to find a new company.
If you work in a blue-collar field where you have to do a lot of physical labor every day, it is normal for you to feel tired. But if you are working a desk job and you constantly feel mentally drained and upset every single time you stepped through the doors, that is not a good sign. Stress and mental strain can be physically exhausting.
There could be a lot of reasons why you feel this way. Maybe the company is not actually toxic, but you are personally unhappy with the job. It could also be a sign that you have an underlying medical condition. Or maybe the work that is being given to you is not reasonable for the amount of time that you are given. If you are feeling drained at work, try to pinpoint the cause, and work on fixing that. If you find that there is absolutely no way to fix it, consider looking for work elsewhere.
Having good communication with your boss is essential to doing a good job. If your manager is not explaining fully what is expected of you, is far too easy to make a mistake. There may be a lot of reasons why they are leaving you out of the loop. It could be that they feel threatened that maybe you will take over their position. Or they are just simply terrible at communicating and being a leader.
Sometimes you can have a conversation with your boss about improving your communication. This may be easy and straightforward, and you can move on in a professional manner. But most of the time, if you are already having trouble communicating, they will ignore that feedback. The worst thing about being in this situation is that even if it is not your fault you could receive the blame if something goes wrong. After trying to resolve the issue on your own, consider going to human resources for help.
At almost every company, it is common to see that a boss has a favorite employee. Sometimes they can hide that favoritism and treat this employee the same as the rest of the team. Other times, it becomes blatantly obvious that one or two people are getting special treatment compared to everyone else.
Maybe the favorite gets a promotion that they don’t actually deserve. Or, they never get in trouble when they do something wrong. In these situations, this can foster a lot of resentment and jealousy. You might feel compelled to get on your boss’s good side, too. But it is usually toxic, and should not be necessary for you to succeed.
18. The Core Values Are Not How The Company Actually Functions
Nearly every company claims to have “core values”. They will probably have a poster hanging in the break room too. However, if you see this list, and none of those values actually match up with the reality of the situation, it is a sign that the company is not functioning very well.
Sometimes, the company may have the best intentions, and you are just working with a bad manager. If you are working for a private business owner, they should have written their own core values. This can be a difficult situation for anyone to work in. You could always discuss this with your boss privately. If the problems persist, you could talk to HR.
Some companies expect their employees to do everything by the book. If there is no flexibility or opportunity to be creative, it can really start to weigh on you. For some people, this may not seem like an issue at all. There are some people out there who prefer to know exactly what is expected of them, and never veer off of that garden path.
Great companies encourage their employees to be creative, instead of bringing them down. If you find yourself feeling stifled in your creativity every day, it may be a sign that you need to change your career path. How can you take your current skill set and make it grow in a different environment? Eventually, you will find an employer who truly appreciates the way you think outside of the box.
If you have ever worked for a poorly managed organization you already understand the importance of communication. When one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing it is all too easy for mistakes to happen. An entire department may accidentally overstep the boundaries of another, all because no one was talking to each other.
If different branches of the company are totally unaware of what the other does, they are sometimes labeled as “lazy”, or there may be some sense of resentment built up towards one another. Even if one department has nothing to do with the other, there should still be a sense of transparency. If everyone has a good idea as to what everyone else does in the company, it builds a sense of respect, and things tend to go a lot more smoothly.
Is your boss constantly looking over your shoulder? If you feel micromanaged, this can actually put more pressure on you, and could lead to making more mistakes. Managers should give their employees autonomy to work on their own. If they’re constantly checking in on you every five minutes, it means that they do not trust you to do your job.
Ask yourself if you have done anything to give your boss the impression that you need to be micromanaged. Have you been making a lot of mistakes lately, and they are justified in their worry? If you always do your job well, they should have no reason to suspect that you are doing something wrong. Try to have a conversation with them openly and honestly.
Sometimes when a work environment is so incredibly stressful and toxic, people tend to isolate themselves from others. They might immediately go to their desk or office without speaking to anyone. If you are a new employee, you may mistake this as someone being anti-social. But this could actually be a sign that they are avoiding conflict because they expect it to happen.
In an unhealthy work environment, the level of mistrust and stress can tear people apart. If it has become so bad that people are not even speaking to one another, it is probably a sign that you should not work there for much longer.
Good leaders know how to take responsibility for their own mistakes. Sadly there are a lot of bosses out there who never do this. They like to point blame at someone else so that they can tell themselves that they are never wrong. Oftentimes they will seek out an employee to peg for a particular issue even if it is a collective problem.
There could be a lot of reasons behind this. Maybe they have a higher-up who is pressuring them to fire the people who are causing the issues in productivity because they are afraid of losing their management position. If they seem to be searching for a victim as a scapegoat, this is incredibly toxic. In a healthy work environment a boss would try to fix the situation overall without isolating the blame on one person.
Sometimes even when someone has a smile on their face, we know in our gut that it is disingenuous. If you feel that your boss is not being authentic, it can be really difficult to trust them. It always feels as if their true colors may show at any moment.
When you first go on a job interview, try to gauge if you believe this person is being authentic or not. If you can tell that they are being overly nice to the point where it is completely fake you may want to steer clear from that job opportunity. If they are being fake in the interview then they will most likely continue that behavior in the workplace.
Sometimes, a boss has every right to push their employees to work harder if they feel that they are being lazy and unproductive. However, there comes a time when their demands are completely unrealistic. If you are genuinely focusing on your work and doing as much as you possibly can, that should be more than enough to get your tasks done.
When you realize that you are not given enough time to complete everything on any given day, it means that your boss has given you an unrealistic amount of work. If your boss is a bully, they will make you feel that if you cannot get the work done, it means you are stupid or that you are not good enough at the job. There is a good chance that they simply have unrealistically high expectations of you and your co-workers.
When you were a teenager, you probably experienced some of your co-workers pretending to be sick so that they could call in and miss work. This was acceptable when kids had tickets to a concert or they wanted to go on a date. Minimum wage jobs in retail or fast food are almost never taken seriously for someone’s long-term career. However, once you reach the adult world, most people do not call in sick unless they genuinely have a legitimate health issue.
If you notice that your coworkers are constantly calling in sick just because they need a break from the job, this is a sign that you’re all working in a toxic environment. When people truly hate their jobs, the stress and anxiety it gives them sometimes make them feel physically ill to go into work. Frequent call-ins are just as bad, if not worse, than a high turnover rate because it means that people are miserable and yet refuse to leave.
We are all human. There will be times when we have to take off work. Maybe someone has passed away in the family or there is another type of crisis. Your boss should understand that every single person is going to eventually run into these types of problems. They should respond with compassion and empathy. If they respond with hostility instead, that is a huge red flag.
Statistics have shown that sociopaths are often drawn towards working in leadership positions. This means that your boss may not have the psychological ability to show empathy towards your issues. If this boss shows zero signs of empathy during a crisis, you should probably find a new job.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies that only care about making money at all costs. Some even go as far as to train their sales associates to lie to the customer to sell a product. Many of them do not care if it means hurting people in the process. True success only comes from making it by honest means.
This sort of lying, manipulative behavior happens a lot in multi-level marketing companies. They will often push their sales people to recruit new hires even though they know that the likelihood of success could be less than 1%. If you see any of this kind of behavior, you should look for new work immediately. These kinds of companies often shut down after a while, because karma has a way of bringing justice upon people who need it.
After years on the job, some managers may feel jaded with their work. This may result in them seeing that there is bad behavior happening in the office, and yet they are doing nothing to fix it. Or they may let certain people slide with their bad behavior, because they are a great salesperson.
Remember that every employee should be held to the same standards of behavior, no matter what their sales results are. Everyone deserves to work in an environment that is free of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. No one should get a free pass to be a jerk.
Believe it or not, a bad work environment can make you physically ill. Stress, anxiety, and depression can manifest themselves in a lot of different ways. You may feel unexplainable stomach pains, and it is all too common for some people to get high blood pressure. Stress can also cause headaches, exhaustion, and so much more.
After a while, a bad work situation may even turn into depression. Once you are depressed, you lose a lot of energy and it becomes difficult to take care of yourself. This can snowball into catching colds and the flu more often because your immune system lowers. Basically, a toxic work environment might as well be poisonous for real! Do not allow something like a job to completely wreck your body.
For some people, the idea of a company having alcohol in the workplace at all seems ridiculous and unprofessional. However, a lot of new tech startups have decided to include beer fridges and on-campus bars. They do this in an attempt to be a “cool” company where young people feel comfortable. For some people, this is a dream come true because they work best when they can relax with a glass of wine. But for others, this is a huge turnoff and makes the work environment seem toxic.
If you have a history of alcohol abuse having this in the work environment can be incredibly toxic. It may also cause people to be a bit to last in their behavior. Drinking in the workplace can potentially break down people’s professional barriers to the point where it becomes unhealthy. This is something that you should look for when you are first being given a tour for a company. If you feel uncomfortable being around alcohol then you should not take that job.
It is normal for co-workers to become friends or even romantic partners in some cases. However, the situation becomes more complicated when your boss tries to be your friend. This is usually not a good thing, because friendship can get in the way of properly evaluating your performance or may turn into unfair favoritism. Nearly everyone understands sexual harassment in the workplace and how it can be a horrible toxic thing. But there are times when your boss can get a bit too personal in a non-sexual way. Are they asking far too many questions about your spouse and children? Do they want to know about your hobbies and they are constantly asking about your weekend? Remember that they should never cross the line without your consent.
They may be socially awkward and not really sure how to talk to you. However, there will reach a point when your boss will ask far too many questions about your personal life to the point where you feel uncomfortable. You should never reach a point where you feel awkward around the person you work for. Try to subtly drop the hint that you do not feel comfortable talking about certain things in your personal life. If they persist then you may want to speak to the HR department.
If your boss picks and chooses when they decide to follow the rules this can be incredibly frustrating. You never know when it is okay to let policy slip or when it will be completely unacceptable. Your manager may only choose to follow the rules when they are being monitored by their own bosses.
Remember that the company makes these rules. So if your boss is the leader of the company they need to abide by the rules that they wrote themselves. Also, if your manager is working for higher-ups, they are obligated to abide by the rules set out by the corporation.
If you find yourself overeating on your lunch break or when you get home from work, it could be a sign that you are under a lot of emotional stress. For some people, stress has the exact opposite effect. They may feel so upset that they stop eating completely.
In other cases, your workplace might have pizza parties and free donuts on a regular basis. While this can be a lot of fun, it can also be terrible for you if you are trying to lose weight. Too many snacks and unhealthy things in the workplace can have a toxic and negative effect on your body.
At the end of the day, you know better than anyone else when your job is toxic. Most of the time, you can just feel it in your gut when you know something is wrong. If you go to tell your friends and family about the issues with your work environment many of them may tell you to suck it up. After all, there are a lot of toxic environments out there.
Remember that just because your parents were willing to deal with it doesn’t mean that you have to as well. You only get one life. If you feel that you are miserable in your current career, try to change that. Either go back to school, apply for new positions, or figure out a way to make your situation better.