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Signs of a toxic work environment

Working in a toxic environment? Here are 11 warning signs and how to overcome toxicity in the workplace!

Signs of a toxic work environment

It’s no secret we’re in the midst of The Great Resignation. Record numbers of workers are leaving their jobs in search of better prospects. But new research shows that a toxic work culture is the biggest reason employees are running for the door.

When it comes to finding a life-long career, you can’t flourish in a toxic work environment. You need to be with a company that uplifts and empowers its employees. And one that treats all workers fair and equal. 

11 warning signs you’re in a toxic work environment


Do you constantly feel like your boss is breathing down your neck? Micro-management is a big sign of a toxic workplace. It suggests your manager doesn’t trust you. And without the trust of your manager, how can you move onto higher heights?

Gossip culture

Are you working in a gossip culture? You know, the kind of culture where a few colleagues are always whispering over by the microwave. It’s not fun working amongst gossip and it shows a lack of respect for one another.

High turnover

Are your company doors constantly revolving? When a company can’t keep staff, it’s a huge red flag. It tells you the company is doing something seriously wrong. Whether people are leaving or getting the boot, a high turnover isn’t a good look!


Do certain workers get treated better? Does it seem like some colleagues are simply untouchable? Favouritism is definitely a toxic work trait. Everyone should be treated equally, no matter what their relationship to the manager.

Moving the goalposts

There’s nothing more frustrating than when a goal has been set, but then your manager moves the goalposts. Especially when you’re close to reaching your goal. When a target’s been set, nothing should ever change that.


Do you feel as though you could receive a rude or sarcastic comment from your manager at any time? That’s no way to work. You should always feel safe knowing that you’ll be spoken to with respect at work.

Naming and shaming

Naming and shaming is a cut-throat management technique. It relies on shaming people who have underperformed. The manager hopes this will put other people off from doing the same. But this only leaves people feeling demotivated. Any feedback should always be done privately.

Skipping lunch

Can’t find enough time in the day to have your lunch? Or maybe you’re expected to work through your lunch. This is a big no no! Taking a proper break is vital to your mental health. Plus, you’ll always feel more productive after switching off for 30 minutes.

Work spilling into home life

When your work is invading your home life, it’s time to stop and think. Work should be kept at work. If you let it spill into your home life, you’ll soon experience burnout. 

False promises

Feel like you can’t rely on your boss’ promises? Then you need to draw the line. This sort of behaviour is unfair and isn’t acceptable.

Unrealistic expectations

Does your manager set targets you know you’ll never reach? That’s no way to work. Targets should be achievable. You should feel motivated at the thought of hitting your target.

How to cope with a toxic workplace

Tend to your mental health

Mental health should always be a priority. But this is particularly true when you’re working in a toxic environment. Going to the gym or practising 10 minutes of meditation and breath work can help release any tension.

Stick to your breaks

Your breaks should be non-negotiable. If you don’t want burnout, always make time to switch off throughout the day.


It’s important to have a network of like-minded people you can rely on. Look for like-minded people within your own company. But also use platforms like LinkedIn to network with other people in your industry.

Turn off notifications in the evening

Once you leave the (virtual) office, you should completely switch off. Turn off all notifications and don’t respond to any messages until you’re back at work. It’s important to set boundaries so people know they can’t eat into your personal time.

Talk to your manager

You may have an opportunity to speak with your manager about how you’re feeling. Hopefully they’ll value your opinion and will look for ways to improve the situation.


Sometimes there’s really no healing the situation. Especially when you can’t even talk to your own boss. If that’s the case, it may be time to find a new job.

There’s no need to suffer

Nobody should ever feel obliged to stay in a toxic work environment. There are plenty of opportunities (now more than ever) to find a new role. And there are plenty of employers that are great to work for. And those are the ones that deserve your time, energy and expertise.

To find an employer you love, browse over half a million vacancies on the SonicJobs app. A new life awaits!

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