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10 Indicators It’s Time To Escape A Toxic Workplace

If you dread going to work every day, you might be stuck in a toxic workplace. Here are ten signs that it's time to move on.
10 Signs It's Time To Leave A Toxic Workplace

If the very thought of going to work fills you with dread, it’s possible you’re ensnared in a toxic workplace. Here are ten unmistakable signs that it’s time to make your exit.

Recent findings from the McKinsey Health Institute reveal a troubling statistic. One in four employees worldwide contends with elevated levels of toxicity in their workplace. While no workplace is perfect, a toxic environment is characterized by disrespect, discrimination, distrust, and often outright hostility. You may find yourself grappling with intense tensions at the office, avoiding voicing your opinions due to fear of reprisals, or experiencing unexplained exclusion from crucial meetings. Regrettably, a hostile work culture is detrimental to employee productivity and overall well-being. The U.S. surgeon general has even issued guidance emphasizing the negative effects of toxic work environments on workers’ mental and physical health.

Since the pandemic, a notable shift has occurred. Employees have become less inclined to endure unhealthy work conditions. Notably, research from MIT Sloan suggests that a corrosive work atmosphere is the primary cause of employee departures. Today, workers aren’t satisfied with just attractive compensation, flexibility, and work-life equilibrium. They now insist on psychological well-being within their workplace.

If the mere idea of reporting to work fills you with dread, you may be the victim of a toxic workplace. Below are ten signs that it’s time to find a new role.

Draining energy

Your job should invigorate you, not deplete your physical and mental resources. If you find yourself physically and mentally exhausted at the end of each workday, it’s a definite red flag. Over time, this situation could lead to burnout, a pervasive global issue, which, if left unaddressed, can escalate to severe health problems such as heart attacks or strokes.

Demotivating atmosphere

Another telltale sign of a negative work culture is a perpetual sense of demotivation. If you’ve been enduring a toxic workplace for an extended period, your self-esteem may erode to the point where you begin questioning your capabilities. If this is the case, it’s a strong indication that you should seek a different work environment.

High turnover

Do your colleagues appear to be departing en masse? If your organization struggles to retain its employees, this should set off alarm bells. Not only does it contribute to a toxic work atmosphere, but it also exerts a detrimental financial impact. According to a recent SHRM report, The High Cost of a Toxic Workplace Culture, the cost of turnover resulting from a toxic culture exceeded a staggering $223 billion over a span of five years.

Promotion of unhealthy boundaries

Toxic work cultures frequently normalize a lack of boundaries that promote health and well-being. For example, your manager may demand your availability to respond to emails during evenings and weekends. Or you might be expected to consistently work late to complete projects. If your boss expects you to push yourself to the brink of exhaustion and burnout, this is a big red flag.

Absence of transparency

Open communication is a hallmark of a healthy workplace culture. In the absence of transparency, employees lose trust in their leaders and, eventually, in their colleagues. This precipitates a decline in the motivation, engagement, and loyalty of the entire team. If your manager deliberately withholds valuable information, seeking clarification is imperative. At that point, if you continue to be kept in the dark, it’s time to think about looking for a new role.

Low morale

Constantly being surrounded by colleagues who complain about their work can be draining. Emotions, particularly negativity, can be highly contagious. Ultimately, if you constantly experience tension due to your team’s dissatisfaction, you may be in a toxic workplace.

Encouragement of cronyism

Cronyism refers to the practice of awarding positions to friends, family, and acquaintances who lack the necessary qualifications. This type of favoritism contributes to a culture that stifles diverse perspectives and can thus become toxic. If you notice this trend, it’s an opportune moment to explore other career opportunities.

Absence of support for professional growth

When your manager consistently makes unfulfilled promises regarding your growth prospects, it serves as a red flag. A positive work environment fosters knowledge and skills training among its employees. If your organization isn’t dedicated to your career advancement, it might be the right moment to consider external roles.

Harassment or bullying

A healthy work environment prioritizes the safety and inclusivity of every staff member. Unfortunately, when harassment and bullying are permitted, it fosters a harmful workplace. Instances of such behavior include offensive humor, verbal abuse, intimidation, or even threats of physical violence. If you witness any of these actions, promptly reach out to your human resources department.

Disrespectful behavior

MIT Sloan looked into the components of a toxic work culture to gain a deeper understanding. In their analysis, they determined that the most impactful negative aspect identified by employees was feeling disrespected at work. When a constant lack of consideration and dignity towards colleagues prevails in the workplace, it’s evident that you’re experiencing a toxic workplace.

If the prospect of going to work makes you physically ill, you’re likely ensnared in a dysfunctional work environment. In the short term, this might manifest as stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. Over time, the cumulative tension and negativity can detrimentally affect your relationships and self-esteem. Additionally, if you’ve been entrenched in an unhealthy work culture for an extended time period, it may take time to recuperate. There’s no reason to endure a toxic workplace. Once you recognize these signs, take the necessary steps to plan your exit. By transitioning to a different environment, you increase your chances of experiencing the fulfillment and well-being you deserve.

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