How To Spot a Toxic Work Culture

How To Spot a Toxic Work Culture

Think about your job for a minute. What feelings do you associate with it? If words like, anxiety, fear, or irritation come to mind your work culture is most likely toxic.

You might feel like your job is your dream job, but if the culture is toxic, your dream can turn sour quickly. That’s because toxic work cultures permeate all aspects of work life leading to burnout, relationship challenges and health issues.

Here are some signs to look for to identify a toxic culture.


Silos stifle teamwork and collaboration and places importance on self-interest. Focusing on self-interest causes individual goals to become more important than team success which overshadows the mission of the overall organization.


Drama has a habit of spreading throughout an organization, and quickly. Although it may seem to only be a few people that grandstand or hyperbolize, they pull a lot of the other employees into the cycle of conflict management. When this happens, precious time is taken away from work goals and is spent in putting out fires. Additionally, it begins to create a negative mindset throughout the organization and affects team dynamics.


If your coworkers can’t trust each other, the culture will turn toxic real quick. If employees are continually undermining each other and stabbing each other in the back there’s a very small chance their will be respect and collaboration happening. All this negativity undercuts the health of the organization.

Leadership Instability

Does it seem like there’s constant turnover in leadership? No one seems to stick around long? There’s probably a good reason for that. This could be because the criteria used to select them is wrong, or it could also mean that the culture doesn’t allow for success. Either way, this will affect the long term success of the organization.

Status Quo

It seems everyone is attempting to protect the status quo for better or for worse. But when organizations are focused on the past, it’s almost impossible to move the organization forward. When this happens, an organization can become stagnant, failing to grow, which ultimately impacts its success.

Toxic work cultures lead to unhealthy working environments. It’s important for employees to be able to identify what is making the culture unhealthy so that they can either address it in hopes of fixing it or leave and avoid it in future careers.

From February 7, 2019

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