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A Toxic Work Environment is More Common Than You Think!


Employee Management

A Toxic Work Environment is More Common Than You Think!

It is important to learn about the causes and signs of a toxic work environment, plus how it affects employee productivity in a workplace.

September 12, 2022
min read
September 12, 2022
8 min read
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Some employees find it challenging to recognize or admit that they are in a toxic work environment. However, the red flags are undeniably visible.

Employees will dread the idea of going to the office daily. Similarly, there will be more arguments among possibly toxic employees, evident signs of favoritism, and passive-aggressive behavior from managers. Employees will also experience burnout or feel emotionally exhausted at the end of a workday

Familiarity with these signs indicates a toxic workplace. It is important to learn about the causes and signs of a toxic work environment, plus how it affects employee productivity in a workplace. 

What Is a Toxic Work Environment? 

A toxic work environment is where employees are subjected to a hostile atmosphere, workplace bullying, verbal abuse, high levels of stress, microaggressions, overburden, long work hours, sexual harassment, and other harmful working conditions.

Such an environment is bred by toxic coworkers, supervisors, managers, or the company culture. Generally, a toxic work environment is much more than disliking a job. 

Understandably, all employees have bad Mondays, disappointing weeks, and even challenging months while on the job. It is the recurrent nature of any workplace environment.

However, most employees usually get past these stressors and build their careers. But it is not the case when dealing with the toxic work culture.  As an employee, being in a toxic environment is like experiencing bad Mondays, disappointing weeks, and dysfunction on repeat.

Employees often endure a hostile work environment and face these red flags to the point of burnout, significantly affecting their well-being. 

Furthermore, the toxic environment negatively impacts the business in general. Such an environment affects employees’ mental health, making them less productive. 

Causes Of A Toxic Work Environment 

Business experts have not identified a single factor that breeds toxic work environments because workplaces are diverse. But there are a few notable triggers of unhealthy work environments. They include:

Unclear roles 

When employees understand their roles, they know what is expected of them. However, the insufficient definition of employee roles leads to confusion and limited productivity. It is a common occurrence in small companies where human resources are scarce. 

Such companies usually assign new roles to their employees without proper compensation. It cultivates resentment for employers and breeds a toxic work environment. 

Vague core values 

A healthy workplace openly discusses company values, beliefs, and attitudes. In an ideal setting, all employees are well-versed with the company culture.

These values, beliefs, and attitudes are essentially the foundation of the company’s decision-making and how everyone should interact in the workplace. A work environment with vague core values creates an unstable company culture and workplace toxicity.

Inconsistent feedback 

Management should provide frequent and applicable feedback for successful company operations. When employees get regular feedback, they can apply it to future projects and reduce errors.

However, with inconsistent feedback, employees never know what to do to be successful at their job. Thus, employees will keep repeating the same mistakes and find themselves at odds with management– resulting in workplace toxicity

Signs of a Toxic Work Environment 

As an employee, recognizing signs of a toxic workplace can be challenging, especially after working for the company for a long time. The best way for employees to identify toxic behavior is to pay close attention to gut feelings and instincts, such as dreading going to work. Other signs include: 

Major work-life imbalance 

Employees deserve to have a life outside their job and career. There should be enough time for personal errands, vacations, and time for self-care without feeling guilty. Striking a work-life balance is very important because an active social life improves physical health and helps to manage stress. 

If an employer demands round-the-clock services from an employee, they are cultivating a toxic work environment. The same applies if the employer requires responses to work emails late at night, on weekends, and days off. 

Though workplace emergencies occur occasionally, employees should not be expected to always be on the clock. Employers who do not respect employees’ personal life and boundaries will eventually have to deal with a high turnover rate. 

High turnover

High employee turnover is undoubtedly one of the biggest signs of a toxic environment. For most people, leaving a job is a tough decision to make. Therefore, if an unusually high number of employees leave a company, something is likely wrong.

The employees may have noticed the hostile work environment and decided to find new jobs elsewhere. 

For example, recent reports show that companies with the most toxic environments, such as Tesla, Amazon, Intel, and Netflix, have experienced high employee turnover rates compared to LinkedIn and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which boast healthy work environments. 

High employee turnover is usually associated with poor leadership or a company’s poor standing in the corporate world.

Similarly, if a company’s management keeps firing employees, it signifies a toxic work environment. Employees must pay attention to the rate at which coworkers switch jobs because this indicates that the company is headed in a bad direction.

Gossip and cliques 

In a workplace, it’s normal to make friends with team members. However, a workplace should not be a place of exclusion and gossiping. Cliques that alienate other coworkers in the workplace to gossip and spread negativity are contributors to workplace toxicity. 

A workplace should be a place of inclusion where everyone feels a sense of belonging. Employees should avoid dysfunctional workplaces marred by cliques, office gossip, politics, and exclusion. 

Poor communication 

There is no denying that good communication is the basis of teamwork and successful processes in a company. How employees and managers in a company communicate with each other gives insight into the state of the work environment.

A lack of communication among employees or between workers and managers indicates a toxic work environment. 

Ineffective communication among coworkers and managers leads to disruptions and decreased productivity. It creates workplace stress, and things will likely worsen if the issue is not addressed. 

Wrapping Up 

A toxic boss, environment, or employees can affect aspects required to succeed in the workplace, such as morale, self-esteem, and positive attitudes.

The best way to foster a strong workplace culture and eradicate workplace toxicity is by considering the workforce’s needs and implementing policies that promote good company ethics.

Employees and managers must be vigilant in recognizing and eradicating harmful practices. Similarly, nurturing healthy patterns falls on both parties. 

Hiring the right employees goes a long way in making a workplace free from toxicity, and productive. Reach out to Workpay today to help you legally hire, manage and pay remote employees in Africa without setting up a legal entity.

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Workpay is a HR and Payroll software company that offers time & attendance, payroll, human resource, leave, expenses and remote teams solutions to businesses across Africa.

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