The Toxic Workplace Signs: 11 Bad Vibes to Watch Out!
The toxic workplace signs can be anywhere if you observe them closely. Nursing jobs, in general, are stressful, no doubt. However, if the thought of going to work not only stresses you out but also makes you “hate” going to it, you’re probably working in a toxic environment. So how can you tell that you are working in one? Here’s what you need to know!
The Toxic Workplace Signs to Observe No. 1 is Work Drama
We have dramas at work, but mostly you can always tell if the acting is light-hearted or entirely toxic! How a hostile environment impacts people play a role in their productivity at work. Toxicity in the workplace comes out of nowhere, but there are always subtle warning signs that can hint at it. Several examples include bullying, sexual aggression, and gaslighting leaders who have trouble concealing their toxic behavior from employees.
Warning Signs to Observe at Work
A toxic environment will always have signs that you cannot miss. Often, you know that the workplace is uneasy when employees perform poorly and causes disruption in their career growth.
If you are in a toxic workplace, you must identify this early on so you can take proper steps to mitigate the damage done to your mental health or development at work. Here are signs that you should watch out for :
1. Gossiping is a “normal” occurrence
One of the first things you notice that your job is toxic is if more employees are gossiping than working. If your nursing unit often feels more like the gossip-filled halls of high school than a professional workplace, this is an indication that you’re witnessing toxic behaviors. Indifferent leadership teams who spread rumors and engage in rampant gossiping are immature and unacceptable.
2. Your work is unvalued
Another classic sign that you are in a toxic workplace is when your coworkers and managers do not value your opinions at work. It could be a sign that they might not appreciate the input of employees as much as other assets like money or equipment. Companies hire people because they see them as assets, but this could be a red flag for anyone working there if their opinions don’t matter to those managing them.
3. Insufficient communication between employees and employers
For a relationship to work, the people involved must learn how to communicate for it to work. It goes the same when working; there should be proper communication between the employer and employees to avoid confusion and miscommunication. How can you tell if there is inadequate communication at work?
- There’s constant confusion around projects, and workers tend to pass around wrong information.
- Passive-aggressive communication among coworkers.
- Employees are receiving different messages.
- There’s continuous “off-hours” communication. It means employees are getting text messages, emails, or social media messages after work hours regarding work.
- Failure to listen.
When miscommunication at work, confusion could start, and employees will feel like they have no purpose.
4. Bullying is Common
Toxic environments allow bullying to flourish because they do not address the issue. Bullying doesn’t only happen in middle school or high school but also in real life. Often, there’s also bullying at work, and sometimes, it’s not in a way that you picture it. Microaggressions are often the go-to of bullies at work, and most of the time, this goes unchecked.
5. High turnover rates among employees
With the new covid variant on the rise, more nurses handed over their resignation letters while others opted to retire early. Companies that cannot retain employees always have a reason. High turnover rates usually mean there’s poor leadership within the company and low employee engagement involved. If you see this trend in your company or have seen one too many employees handling their resignation papers, take note of that! It is a red flag that you’re not in a good workplace like you thought you were. 
6. Narcissistic leadership
There are companies out there that run employees like they own robots. Leaders that show narcissistic tendencies aren’t new, and unfortunately, it is still happening to this day and age. There are employers out there that lack empathy and self-awareness and are only there for their gain. Working with people like this can result in high turnovers as well. Besides, who wants to work with someone who doesn’t empathize with other people? If you see this in your employer, you might as well think about staying in the company or getting out while you still can!
7. People are unhappy with their work
Do any of your coworkers look happy when they get into the office? Do you still see them smile the moment they punch in for work? If this is the common theme among the people you are working with, then no doubt that it’s a toxic environment. The toxic workplace signs will always find a way to show themselves. It could be through their performance at work or attendance. Make sure to observe your coworkers and see how this affects you as well.
8. Unfair practices in the workplace
Favoritism doesn’t only happen inside a classroom setting, but it’s also in a workplace. The only difference is that it’s about the unfair treatment of employees. Sometimes, employees with the right skillset don’t get the break they need because they’re not the “right person” for the job. In some cases, allegations of bullying, unequal pay, and sexism happen at work. Take a look at MailChimp, for example. If you have valuable skills and experience in the company but are being taken advantage of by your employees, pack your things, and leave. Honestly, you don’t have to downgrade yourself and your skill set to stay in the company with unfair treatment.
9. There’s a good number of unmotivated workers
You know that the company you are working with is a good one when everyone wants to do their part to help the company reach their goals. However, a company with a toxic environment has unmotivated workers. Unmotivated in a way that they’re not even that happy to go to work. They clock in because they need to make money. If the ONLY motivation you have is to earn money and not grow for yourself, your career, and the company you are working for, then it’s time to go. Who wants to be unhappy while working anyway?
10. Work-life balance is Zero
The best thing about working is when the day is over, and you’re excited to go home to relax. If you work in a toxic work environment, expect that this will not always be the case. You should be able to take time off without feeling guilty. Taking vacations and days off should be your right as a valued employee. Having a balanced work and personal life is essential, so you don’t burn out. If your boss requires you to be on-call all the time or answer work-related emails, that’s toxic.
11. Employees feel more stress and burnout
Stress and burnout are classic signs of a toxic work environment. The World Health Organization recognizes workplace burnout as a problem and is a legitimate medical diagnosis as defined by the International Classification of Diseases (IDC). There are three types of burnout in the workplace; frenetic, under-challenged, and worn-out.
- Frenetic burnout happens when employees work too much and put their energy into their work, hoping to get rewarded.
- Under-challenged burnout is when an employee isn’t challenged by work anymore, so they find themselves bored or not in the mood to work at all.
- Worn-out burnout is when an employee is happy about their work at first, but after working for some time and not getting any reward for their hard work, they feel disillusioned and uninspired.
When you feel any of these in your workplace, you decide that it’s best to think of leaving the company or suffering long-term burnouts.
The Toxic Workplace Signs Can Be Resolved
The toxic workplace signs will always reflect on the company. Although it’s tempting to quit right away, especially if you hate your job, make sure that it will not put you in the wrong position. Plotting your Plan B is crucial; make sure you have one!
- If your workplace is too toxic, take time and release stress by going to the gym, learning a new skill, or doing repairs at home. Always remember that you still have a life besides your 9-5 job. Make sure you separate that from your work.
- Create a list of things to do at work. It will help you take your mind off the negative things at work and motivate you to keep going.
- Make sure to document everything that you do at work. It could be text messages, emails, pictures, phone calls, and even the people you interact with. It could come in handy when you want to file a complaint or hand in your resignation.
- Don’t quit if you haven’t secured enough money to help you start all over again. The best thing you can do is talk to your boss first. Air your concerns and expectations; if that doesn’t work and things are still the way they are, start writing your exit plan.
Don’t settle for a workplace that depresses you rather than inspires you. Take action, speak to nurse leaders or managers, suggest solutions on what to do. Take the first step to improving the workplace. If you take the initiative, someone is bound to follow your steps. So don’t let the toxic workplace signs drag you, take action today!