3 Seemingly Innocent Signs of a Toxic Work Culture

Are you working in (or the owner of) a toxic workplace? One would think the answer is easy to figure out – just look for drama, gossip, fighting, yelling, or a team that looks miserable and isn’t performing well. However, most of the time the problems lie just under the surface, and if you don’t spot them early, they can grow into seeds of discord that can unravel everything you’ve worked to build.

Check out these often-missed signs of a toxic work environment below:

  • Only coloring within the lines:
    If everyone around you is obsessed with only doing what’s in their job description and nothing more, it’s a huge red flag. Small companies often have to rely on people to wear several hats in order to get things done, and while this shouldn’t be abused, a culture of inflexibility will definitely remain stagnant. 
  • Making excuses for veterans:
    Are the veterans of the organization coasting on previous accomplishments instead of making new contributions? Does management let rude or unprofessional behavior slide because “that’s just how they are”? Basic human decency and communication skills is a requirement for any position, and no amount of past or present success should excuse terrible behavior. 
  • Venting sessions disguised as debriefs :
    After every meeting, do employees hang around to share what they really think? Do they bring up ideas, opportunities, concerns that weren’t mentioned during the meeting itself? If this happens often, take a moment to examine why. Do employees not feel empowered to speak up? Do they actually disagree with the decisions that were made? Do they think nothing will happen even if they get the courage to raise potential issues? All of these point to serious workplace issues that can affect employee engagement and retention. 

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