6 Signs Your Job Is Toxic

August 10, 2022 Catherine Tacopina

Toxic Job

When you started your job, you were likely motivated, excited, and energized to contribute and leave your mark on the company. As time has gone on, however, your feelings may have changed. Whether that’s due to a shift in company culture, structural changes within the organization, or increased workloads, you may be asking yourself: Do I have a toxic job?

One of the things that makes a toxic job, well, toxic, is that these problems are often larger than yourself. If you have a toxic job, you likely don’t feel comfortable approaching your manager or HR about the issues you’re experiencing. Or, you may have tried and were met with empty promises or quick rebuttals.

While the occasional work stress can be normal, the following six signs all point to something worse—a toxic job or dysfunctional workplace. Continue reading to learn more:

You’re feeling unmotivated and constantly anxious

Do you find yourself unmotivated and anxious to start the workday? If so, this could be a clear indicator that you have a toxic job. To determine if you are feeling generalized work stress or something worse, first ask yourself where this lack of motivation comes from. Is this temporary anxiety related to a big project or deadline, or even issues outside of work? Or is this a constant feeling you have due to factors like a heavy workload, a lack of team camaraderie and communication, or unreasonable expectations from management? Temporary issues (and stress) will go away over time. However, if these feelings and experiences are persistent, you should consider leaving.

You’re noticing a lot of turnover

If you think you have a toxic job, you’re likely not the only person at your company who feels this way. High voluntary turnover usually indicates that a company’s workplace and culture is toxic, and its employees are reaching a collective breaking point. Turnover is normal at all organizations, but seeing large groups of employees leave may be a sign of larger company issues. The same can be said if the company is going through rounds of layoffs every few months. This could mean there is a lack of strategic direction, disorganized leadership, or limited growth opportunities.

You’re experiencing burnout

There are many reasons why you may be experiencing burnout in the workplace, and it can sometimes be hard to tell if it’s due to the company culture, external stressors, or your own habits. To help get to the bottom of it, first identify what type of burnout you are experiencing:

  • Overload burnout: you work so hard that you sacrifice your health and personal relationships to find success.
  • Under-challenge burnout: you feel unappreciated and unchallenged, which results in you distancing yourself from work.
  • Neglect burnout: you’re made to feel incompetent and unable to meet expectations (usually unreasonable ones), leaving you feeling unmotivated and helpless.

Burnout is a serious condition that can have long-term effects on your mental and physical health, so you should take it seriously if you are experiencing any of these signs. If many of your issues have been caused by your work environment, it might be a sign of a toxic job or workplace culture.

You’re experiencing poor communication issues

Poor communication can look like little to no transparency from leadership, a lack of clarity on what your supervisor’s expectations are, and poor listening skills on the part of management. All of these things can leave you feeling confused, disorganized, and unmotivated to do your work. Communication does go both ways, so it’s important to figure out if there’s anything you can improve. If you find yourself making the effort to communicate and it isn’t being reciprocated, this points to a toxic job you can’t fix.

Your coworkers are cliquey and overly competitive

Cliquey, gossipy, and overly competitive coworkers can create a toxic work environment that can negatively affect everyone around them. While you won’t be the closest of friends with all your colleagues, you should never be made to feel inferior or disrespected in the workplace. Unfortunately, you can’t change bad behavior like condescending comments and aggressive, confrontational behavior. If it’s not possible to remove yourself from these conversations or you need to interact with these colleagues on a regular basis, you should try and leave this toxic environment as soon as possible.

Your employer doesn’t value work-life balance

Studies show that professionals who have a strong work-life balance have fewer health problems, are less likely to burn out, and are more engaged with their work. Because of this, most employers want to ensure their employees have a solid work-life balance, right? With a toxic job, this might not be the case. When you’re at work, do you find yourself:

  • Being pressured to work outside of normal business hours?
  • Made to feel guilty for taking time off?
  • Expected to answer work emails and calls when you are off?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, this could mean that your employer doesn’t value work-life balance (and therefore your well-being) as much as they should.

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