You are currently viewing Spotting The Red Flags Of A Toxic Workplace

Spotting The Red Flags Of A Toxic Workplace

It was the Anti-Bullying Alliance’s annual anti-bullying week last week. Like me, you might have seen the news about it popping up here and there. You might even have taken part in Odd Socks Day! For me, when I saw some of the articles pop up on my feed, it stirred up some memories of a difficult time in my early career. I wanted to share my experience with you because sharing in itself is powerful – hopefully, this will help others feel able to speak up. Also, if you’re currently in a toxic workplace, I want you to be able to identify it and help you find the best way to manage the situation.

My experience of a toxic workplace

I was in between roles after being made redundant at the age of 26.  When I was offered a temporary contract within an HR admin team, I was super excited and grateful to be offered the experience of working for such a large corporation. Sadly, the excitement didn’t last long.

The team was short-staffed and swamped by newbies who didn’t really know what they were doing so a new manager was brought in to coordinate the team. That’s when things started going horribly wrong. I’m pretty easy to get along with.  I build relationships easily, I’m loyal and supportive – all I want to do in life is help people and make their lives easier.  The new manager, however, was so hard to get on with.  She never looked happy, her smile always seemed forced. Her manner was short, sharp, and unfriendly. We couldn’t do anything right. I felt like I was walking on eggshells all day waiting for the next explosion. I hated going to work. I got Sunday night dread every night instead of just on a Sunday.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sunday Scaries (@sunday.scaries)

She questioned everything we did with a tone of confrontation and accusationThere was never a discussion and orders were barked at us. No matter what we did, nothing was ever good enough.  She, alone, made it feel like the most toxic workplace I have ever experienced. It became clear that I couldn’t continue to work there while this toxic person was heading up the team – my Insights profile shows my dominant energy is Earth Green – I’m all about the team and the feels!

So, for my own sanity, I handed in my notice before I’d found something new. I had no regrets then and I still don’t: it was absolutely the right decision.

What are the red flags of a toxic workplace?

MIT, an American university, conducted a study of 1.3million Glassdoor reviews to find out what words and topics reduced a company’s culture score. They identified these as the five biggest signs of toxicity in the workplace.

Incivility and disrespect

Manners are important. A lack of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, and general civility and respect correlated with lower culture scores. The less respect in the workplace, the more likely that the workplace was described as a dumpster fire!

Non-inclusive environment

Being less welcoming to certain groups of people doesn’t just cost a company the talent of those who are left out because of discrimination. It also seriously lowers the morale of those who do join.

Unethical behaviour

If you cut ethical corners, your team will notice, and it will negatively impact them as well as what they think about the company.

Cut-throat competition

You might think that extreme competition drives higher performance but leaving unpleasant competitive behaviours unchallenged will decrease job satisfaction (in the short term) and increase resignations (in the long term).


Hopefully, you won’t be surprised to hear that people hate being bullied or seeing others be bullied. Examples include yelling, demeaning others, verbal abuse, or talking down to others.

Toxic work environments breed unrest, unhealthy competition, low morale, constant stress, negativity, high sickness levels, and a high turnover of team members. What’s even worse is that the effects of a toxic workplace rarely stay at work. They typically follow you home, where they take over your conversations with loved ones, steal your much-needed sleep, and generally cause worry and stress.

What are the green flags of a non-toxic workplace?

You’re more likely to be in a positive and nurturing workplace if:

  • Leaders ditch micromanagement and trust their team.
  • You’re empowered to make your own decisions and are given the space to innovate, use your skills, and aren’t afraid to make mistakes.
  • It’s a supportive environment.
  • You feel like a valued member of the team.

How to survive a toxic workplace

If you think that you’re in a toxic workplace, here are some steps you can take to help survive the situation:

  • Don’t be afraid to have some real conversations.
  • Find support via your co-workers and/or friends.
  • Implement coping strategies such as mindfulness or meditation techniques.
  • Take time to unwind after the working day.
  • Set healthy boundaries.

Ultimately – don’t be afraid to leave if your financial situation allows you to or start looking for other opportunities if not – you spend too much time at work to be unhappy there!


Want to chat about making sure your workplace is full of non-toxic green flags? Get in touch!




Leave a Reply