Toxic Workplaces & Their Key Indicators

Do you know what a toxic workplace looks like? Business owners and managers need to avoid a toxic workplace at all costs as this can impact key areas like performance, morale and staff turnover, but it is not always clear what a toxic workplace looks like and it can be hard to fix once it has happened.


Survey Results

Corporate banner producers, instantprint, conducted a survey of 1,000 UK workers that identified several behaviours as red flags as well as key indicators of a toxic workplace. Shockingly, as many as 69.85% stated that they have worked in a toxic environment at some point in their career, which shows just how common it can be. According to the survey, the biggest red indicators of a toxic environment include:


  • Bullying (46%)
  • Passive-aggressive communication (45%)
  • Cliques (37.3%)
  • Favouritism (37.3%)
  • Gossip and rumours (35)


Interestingly, men were more likely to state that bullying was the biggest red flag (43.2%) while women found passive-aggressive communication to be the biggest red flag (49.5%).


Toxic Industry Workplaces

It also seems that there are certain industries that are prone to a toxic workplace environment. A few industries that are notorious for a toxic culture include:


Hospitality and restaurants – In high-pressure workplaces like this, communication can often be aggressive, insulting and unprofessional. Staff can also feel undervalued and overworked.


Marketing & Sales – In marketing and sales, a toxic environment can easily arise when staff are under immense pressure to hit targets. Additionally, there is often a feeling of competition in this field that can create a negative atmosphere and impact relationships.


Healthcare – Healthcare can be incredibly stressful and demanding, but this is not the only reason that it can be toxic. Residents and med students are often mistreated but trained to keep their heads down and avoid reporting abuse, especially when higher-ups hold so much control over their careers.


Spotting Red Flags

So, how can you spot the red flags? It is not always clear that you are in a toxic environment, but there are a few clear signs that should never be ignored. These include staff having no clear goals or direction, communication that is aggressive and low morale amongst staff. If a business also has high staff turnover, this is a clear sign that something is wrong.


A toxic workplace can impact a business in many ways. It can prevent staff from working to a high standard each day, create divisions that can be hard to manage and lead to high staff turnover. Therefore, it is so important to avoid a toxic culture at work, which you can do with open communication, team building events and seeking regular feedback from staff.



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