Overcoming Toxicity in The Workplace: A Comprehensive Guide

Attius Li- Author
Atticus Li
Finding a job
August 31, 2023
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Are you feeling stressed, anxious or unhappy at work? You’re not alone — in the U.S., one in 9 workers views their workplace as toxic. This blog post will guide you through spotting signs of a toxic environment and provide actionable steps to address them effectively.

Read on to regain control of your work life’s quality!

Key Takeaways

  • One in nine workers in the US views their workplace as toxic, indicating a prevalent issue and a disconnect between management practices and workforce expectations.
  • Signs of a toxic workplace include poor communication, cliques and gossipy behavior, unmotivated coworkers, stifled growth opportunities, rapid employee turnover, lack of work-life balance, burnout, no forward movement, and an unsettling gut feeling.
  • In a work from home environment, office gossip can move online, digital meetings may overlook employees’ contributions leading to disengagement and frustration. Increased burnout and absence of work-life balance.are also common challenges.

Defining a Toxic Workplace

A toxic workplace can be best described as an unhealthy environment that negatively impacts the morale, productivity, and well-being of its employees. Characterized by poor communication, favoritism, manipulation, and a lack of trust or support for employee growth — it often leads to high stress levels and reduced job satisfaction.

In such settings, harmful behaviors like gaslighting and bullying aren’t just present; they’re normalized. A glaring fact is that one in nine workers in the US view their workplaces as toxic — demonstrating not only a prevalent issue but also a profound disconnect between management practices and workforce expectations.

Discrimination too plays a pivotal role in cultivating toxicity with over six in ten workers experiencing or observing it firsthand within these environments.

Within this hostile setting you’ll find unmotivated coworkers who are limited by stifled growth opportunities and become disengaged due to constant micromanagement.

The clear absence of work-life balance combined with increased burnout rates — experienced by 89% professionals — is evidence enough that toxic workspaces breed negativity impacting both business performance and individual mental health adversely.

This mistreatment doesn’t go without consequence either; businesses suffer heavy costs associated with high employee turnover while underperforming employees lead to lower client service quality.

With all these damaging factors at play together — a toxic work environment forms an insidious cycle detrimental to everyone involved — from the employees up to executive leadership.

Signs of a Toxic Workplace

Signs of a toxic workplace include poor communication, cliques and gossipy behavior, unmotivated coworkers, stifled growth, rapid employee turnover, lack of work-life balance, burnout, no forward movement, and an unsettling gut feeling.

Poor Communication

Poor communication is a glaring sign of a toxic work environment and can manifest in several ways. For example, vital information may be routinely withheld, or instructions might be unclear or contradictory.

Workers might find themselves blindsided by sudden decisions made without their knowledge. According to research, approximately nine out of ten workers affirm that their workplace suffers from ineffective communication.

The consequences of poor communication are profound — it fuels misunderstandings, breeds mistrust, and creates an atmosphere ripe for manipulation and office politics. It leads to reduced productivity as employees flounder with ill-defined goals or expectations.

In the long run, this lack of clarity tends to demotivate staff members and can result in increased employee turnover as well as provide subpar service to clients.

Cliques and Gossipy Behavior

A toxic workplace often brims with cliques and gossipy behavior, creating a stifling atmosphere of exclusion and favoritism. This environment can breed negative behaviors like manipulation, backstabbing, and harmful competitiveness.

If you find yourself outside of these exclusive circles, the impact on your morale can be detrimental. Dealing with such everyday exclusivity drains productive energy and breeds resentment among employees who feel left out or marginalized.

It’s essential for management to address this toxic trait swiftly as part of a zero-tolerance policy against harmful behaviors that compromise workplace inclusivity and harmony.

Unmotivated Coworkers

Unmotivated coworkers can be a clear sign of a toxic work environment. When colleagues lack motivation, it creates a negative atmosphere that affects everyone’s productivity and morale.

It may indicate underlying issues such as poor leadership, stifled growth opportunities, or low employee engagement. This lack of motivation can lead to decreased job satisfaction and increased turnover rates within the company.

Addressing this issue is crucial for creating a positive work culture where employees feel valued and motivated to give their best effort.

Stifled Growth

Stifled growth is a common indicator of a toxic workplace, where employees lack opportunities for advancement, skills development, and mentorship. In such environments, employees often find themselves in stagnant roles with limited chances to learn new skills or take on challenging projects that could contribute to their professional growth.

This can lead to frustration and demotivation among employees who are eager to progress in their careers. Without avenues for growth and development, employees may feel stuck and unfulfilled, ultimately leading to disengagement and high turnover rates within the organization.

Rapid Employee Turnover

Rapid employee turnover is a clear sign of a toxic workplace, indicating underlying problems within the organization. When employees are regularly leaving their positions, it suggests issues such as disorganization, lack of direction, bad leadership, or little opportunity for growth and advancement.

High turnover can also be indicative of a hostile work environment where employees feel unhappy and unsupported. This constant influx and outflux of staff not only disrupts team dynamics and productivity but also places additional strain on existing employees who may have to take on extra responsibilities to compensate for the loss of manpower.

It’s crucial for employers to recognize the impact that rapid employee turnover has on their business performance and address the root causes in order to create a healthier work environment.

No Work-Life Balance

No work-life balance is a clear sign of a toxic workplace. When employees are constantly overwhelmed with excessive work demands and expectations, without any time for personal life or self-care, it takes a toll on their mental health and overall well-being.

This can lead to increased stress levels, burnout, and reduced productivity. Without the ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance, employees are more likely to experience high turnover rates as they seek environments that prioritize their well-being.

Additionally, organizations that fail to provide work-life balance may suffer from decreased employee engagement and lower-quality work output.


Burnout is a pervasive issue in toxic workplaces, and it can have significant consequences for employees. High levels of stress, excessive workloads, unrealistic expectations, and a lack of support contribute to burnout.

In fact, employees in toxic work environments are more likely to experience burnout compared to their counterparts in healthier work environments. Burnout not only affects individuals’ mental health but also leads to reduced productivity and lower-quality work.

It’s important for employees to recognize the signs of burnout and take steps to address it before it further impacts their well-being and performance.

No Forward Movement

A toxic workplace often lacks opportunities for growth or advancement, leaving employees feeling stagnant and unfulfilled in their careers. Without the chance to take on new challenges or develop new skills, employees can become disengaged and unmotivated.

This lack of forward movement not only hinders individual career progression but also negatively impacts overall company productivity and success.

In fact, research shows that a toxic work environment can result in high employee turnover and reduced business performance.

It is crucial for organizations to create an environment that fosters professional development and provides avenues for employees to grow and advance in their careers, as this ultimately benefits both individuals and the company as a whole.

Unsettling Gut Feeling

One of the signs of a toxic workplace is an unsettling gut feeling. It’s that nagging sensation deep inside that something just isn’t right. You may not be able to put your finger on exactly what it is, but you know in your gut that the environment isn’t healthy or conducive to your well-being.

Trusting your instincts is key when it comes to recognizing and addressing workplace toxicity. Research shows that a toxic work environment negatively impacts employees’ mental health, leading to anxiety and depression.

Additionally, high turnover rates are prevalent in toxic workplaces, with 50.5 million people quitting their jobs in 2022 alone due to these unhealthy environments. If you have an unsettling gut feeling about your workplace, it’s important to take action and prioritize your mental well-being before it takes a toll on you both personally and professionally.

Additional Signs in a Work From Home Environment

In a work from home environment, office gossip can move online and digital meetings may overlook employees. Increased burnout and absence of work-life balance are also apparent. Interested in learning more? Keep reading!

Office Gossip Moves Online

In a work from home environment, office gossip can easily move online, creating a toxic atmosphere. Without the physical presence and social cues found in an office setting, employees may feel more comfortable engaging in gossip and spreading rumors through digital channels.

This behavior not only damages relationships and erodes trust among coworkers but can also lead to exclusion and marginalization of certain individuals within the organization. Remote work requires clear communication and empathy to ensure that online interactions are positive and respectful for all team members involved.

Digital Meetings Overlook Employees

In the age of remote work, digital meetings have become the norm. While they offer convenience and flexibility, they can also inadvertently overlook employees, hindering their ability to contribute effectively.

Technical difficulties like lag time and interruptions can interrupt communication flow and make it difficult for everyone to have a voice. This exclusionary aspect of digital meetings can lead to feelings of frustration and disengagement among team members, further exacerbating the toxic atmosphere in the workplace.

Increased Burnout

Remote work has its benefits, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. One major challenge is the increased risk of burnout. A survey by Monster.com found that a staggering 68 percent of work-from-home employees are experiencing serious burnout.

This can be attributed to a variety of factors, including job stress, home stressors, childcare responsibilities, and blurred work-life boundaries. With the merging of home and office in a 24/7 setting, it’s no wonder that remote workers are feeling overwhelmed.

However, there are ways to combat this burnout. Implementing regular 1:1 meetings to check in on employee well-being and providing downtime for rest and relaxation can help alleviate some of the pressure.

Absence of Work-Life Balance

In toxic workplaces, work-life balance is often non-existent. Employees are expected to be available at all times and have their personal time disregarded. This lack of respect for boundaries can lead to increased stress levels and a negative impact on both physical and mental health.

Studies have shown that employees in high-stress jobs with little work-life balance are more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. Additionally, the absence of work-life balance can contribute to burnout, reducing productivity and overall job satisfaction for employees.

It’s crucial for organizations to prioritize work-life balance initiatives and create an environment where employees can maintain a healthy equilibrium between their personal lives and professional responsibilities.

Effects of a Toxic Workplace

Toxic workplaces have detrimental effects on employees, including poor mental health, high employee turnover, reduced productivity, and overall poor business performance.

Poor Mental Health

Poor mental health is a direct consequence of working in a toxic workplace. The constant stress, negativity, and toxicity can take a toll on employees’ well-being, leading to increased anxiety, depression, and overall emotional distress.

Studies have shown that employees in toxic work environments are more likely to experience symptoms of mental health issues compared to those in healthier work environments. This can have significant consequences not just for the individuals themselves but also for their productivity and overall job satisfaction.

Addressing the signs of toxicity in the workplace is crucial for creating a supportive and mentally healthy environment for all employees.

High Employee Turnover

High employee turnover is a common sign of a toxic workplace. When employees are constantly leaving, it can indicate that something is not right within the organization. In fact, toxic work environments result in high turnover costs for organizations.

Not only does this constant cycle of hiring and training new employees drain company resources, but it also affects productivity and morale. Additionally, employees in toxic work environments produce lower-quality work, which further impacts overall business performance.

It’s important for employers to address the underlying issues causing high turnover and create a healthier and more supportive workplace culture to retain valuable talent.

Reduced Productivity

Reduced productivity is a glaring red flag of a toxic work environment, and it comes as no surprise that it leads to a staggering number of employees quitting their jobs. In fact, research shows that approximately 50.5 million people left their jobs in 2022 due to the negative impact of toxicity on their productivity levels.

When employees feel unsupported, undervalued, or overwhelmed by toxic behaviors such as bullying or micromanagement, they are unable to perform at their best. This decline in productivity not only affects individuals but also has significant organizational costs including decreased employee morale, increased turnover rates, and even customer loss.

Addressing workplace toxicity is crucial for creating a positive and productive work culture where employees can thrive and contribute their best effort towards achieving company goals.

Poor Business Performance

Toxic work environments have a direct impact on business performance. Studies show that organizations with toxic cultures experience reduced productivity, lower-quality work, and worse service to clients.

In fact, poor business performance is often associated with the effects of a toxic workplace. High turnover costs and employee attrition are also common in these environments, further hindering the growth and success of the company.

It’s essential for employers to address toxicity within their organization to create a positive work environment that fosters productivity, engagement, and ultimately leads to better business outcomes.

How to Address a Toxic Environment

To address a toxic environment, take back your power by setting boundaries and standing up for yourself.

Reclaim your agency

Take back control of your work life by reclaiming your agency in a toxic workplace. It’s important to recognize that you have the power to make changes and take action. Start by setting boundaries and standing up for yourself when it comes to unacceptable behavior or mistreatment.

Speak openly with your colleagues or supervisors about your concerns, providing specific examples where necessary. Seek support from trusted friends, family members, or mentors who can offer guidance and advice during this challenging time.

If all else fails, consider exploring other career opportunities that align more closely with your values and goals. Remember, you deserve to work in a healthy and supportive environment where you can thrive both personally and professionally.

Address the point of conflict

To address a toxic work environment, it is important to confront the specific conflicts that are contributing to the toxicity. This means having open and honest conversations about the issues at hand, whether it’s poor communication, bullying, favoritism, or any other problematic behavior.

By addressing the point of conflict directly, employees can bring attention to the issues and work towards finding solutions. It may involve speaking up to managers or HR, seeking mediation or counseling services within the organization, or even considering leaving if no resolution is possible.

Taking action and not letting harmful behaviors go unchecked is crucial in creating a healthier and more supportive workplace environment for everyone involved.

Seek assistance

If you find yourself in a toxic workplace, it’s crucial to seek assistance. Reach out to trusted colleagues or friends outside of work who can offer support and advice. If possible, talk to human resources or management about the issues you’re facing.

Seeking assistance is important because toxic work environments can have serious negative effects on your mental health and overall well-being. According to studies, employees in toxic workplaces experience higher levels of anxiety and depression.

Additionally, seeking help can also provide validation for your experiences and help you gain clarity about whether the toxicity stems from the organization as a whole or specific individuals within it.

Remember that addressing workplace toxicity is not something you should face alone, so don’t hesitate to seek assistance when needed.

Plan your exit

If you find yourself in a toxic workplace, it’s essential to plan your exit strategy. Consider updating your resume and networking with professionals who can help you find new opportunities.

The Great Resignation movement has created a favorable job market for employees seeking better work environments, so take advantage of this time to explore career paths that align with your values and goals.

Remember that leaving a toxic workplace is an act of self-care and prioritizing your mental health. Don’t be afraid to seek therapy or support from friends and family during this transition process.


In conclusion, being able to identify the signs of a toxic workplace and overcoming toxicity is crucial for your mental health and overall well-being. From poor communication to stifled growth, these red flags should not be ignored.

Toxic work environments can lead to mental and emotional distress, impacting both the individual’s professional performance and personal well-being.

Jobsolv’s approach promises to disrupt this cycle, placing emphasis on a holistic understanding of each individual’s unique qualities. Through its sophisticated algorithms, the platform can accurately identify opportunities that resonate with the individual’s values, thus significantly reducing the likelihood of exposure to toxic workplaces.

Addressing the issues head-on, seeking assistance if needed, or planning your exit are important steps towards creating a healthier work environment and finding professional fulfillment elsewhere.

Remember, you deserve to thrive in a positive and supportive workplace that values your contributions.

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