Am I in a toxic workplace?

Many of us have been there; that job where going to work feels like a chore, where you’re constantly feeling stressed, undervalued, unsupported, and you’re full of nerves on a Sunday night anticipating the Monday. That’s what we call a toxic workplace, and it’s no fun.

A toxic workplace and culture can be incredibly damaging to your health and wellbeing, particularly your mental health, and it can make going to work feel like a daunting task.

It’s important to understand what a toxic workplace is, what makes a workplace toxic and to be able to recognise the signs before it’s too late.

A toxic workplace is a work environment that is defined by negative attitudes and behaviours that can have a harmful impact on employees’ wellbeing, job satisfaction and productivity.

Here are some of the most common signs that a workplace may be toxic:

Poor communication: There may be a lack of clear communication or transparency between managers and employees, or between colleagues; this can create confusion, misunderstandings, and a sense of disconnection, leading to frustration and resentment.

High turnover: If there’s a high rate of employee turnover in a company, it may be a sign that the workplace isn’t healthy. People might be leaving for a common reason, and it’s worth investigating why.

Lack of support: A toxic workplace may lack support and resources for employees, leading to them feeling undervalued and unsupported. They may feel like their work isn’t appreciated or that they’re not given the resources they need to succeed in their role.

Bullying and harassment: If there’s a culture of bullying or harassment in the workplace, it’s a definite sign of toxicity. This can take many forms, including verbal abuse, discrimination, physical intimidation, or even subtle actions like exclusion from meetings or social events which can lead to a hostile and unpleasant work environment.

Unreasonable demands and expectations: When managers make unrealistic demands or set impossible expectations, it can create a sense of stress and overwhelm among employees. This can lead to burnout and a feeling of being constantly on edge and anxious.

Gossip and drama: A workplace that’s full of gossip and drama can be incredibly toxic. It can create a sense of tension and mistrust among colleagues and lead to a negative and unproductive work environment that feels nasty and unfriendly.

Lack of work/life balance: When employees are expected to regularly work long hours, are constantly on call or are repeatedly contacted outside of business hours, it can be very difficult to find a healthy work/life balance and clearly shows that the workplace doesn’t encourage or prioritise a work/life balance. This can lead to stress and burnout.

If you’re experiencing any of the signs of a toxic workplace, it may be time to consider whether you’re in the right workplace and if it’s time to move on or speak to a manager or someone in HR about the situation. But, how do you know whether you should stay and see if it improves over time or move on to another workplace?

If you think you’re in a toxic workplace, ask yourself these questions to help you determine if it’s time to move on:

  • Is anything actively being done to change or improve the workplace environment and behaviours?
  • If there’s a high turnover, is management doing anything to address this?
  • How do I feel when I’m at work? Do I feel stressed, anxious or unhappy on a regular basis?
  • Is work/life balance a priority in my workplace? Or am I expected to work long hours or constantly be on call when I don’t want to be?
  • Are there policies in place to address bullying, harassment and discrimination? Are these policies being enforced effectively?
  • Is there a culture of fear or mistrust in my workplace? Do I feel afraid to speak up or take risks?


It’s important to check in with yourself and answer these questions honestly, they can help you assess whether your workplace is toxic and if it’s time to start looking for a new opportunity. If you’re feeling unhappy or unfulfilled in your current role, it may be worth exploring other options that align more closely with your values and career goals. Remember, your mental health and wellbeing should always be a priority.

When you land a job in a positive workplace, the difference is incredible – it’s like a breath of fresh air, you almost have to pinch yourself! Stay tuned for next week’s blog about the benefits of working in a positive workplace.

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