8 Sure Signs You Are in a Toxic Workplace

  • Icon FR
  • Dutch flag

We’ve all heard of this notion of workplaces which are fundamentally dysfunctional or toxic. But what exactly is a toxic workplace, and how can you recognise one?

A toxic workplace is characterised by:

  • significant drama and fighting, with personal conflict often harming the productivity of the organisation
  • ineffectiveness which then has a negative impact on employees

People who work in a toxic workplace:

  • focus on maintaining or increasing their power, social status and wealth
  • divert the attention away from their own performance shortfalls and misdeeds, often by putting others down, failing to take responsibility, gossiping and bullying.

So how exactly would you recognise that you work in a toxic workplace? Here are eight sure signs to look out for.

Toxic-Workplace-21. Co-workers often call in sick.

This is a major indication that something is wrong in the workplace. 78% of people who call in sick actually do so because of personal reasons, stress or family issues rather than because they are actually physically suffering.

2. Competition between co-workers is encouraged.

If people’s performance is regularly being compared and if this competition is being fueled from higher up, this is likely to induce jealousy, backstabbing and gossip: in other words, toxicity.

3. Your productivity is being compromised by co-workers missing deadlines and failing to deliver.

Anyone can fail to meet a deadline from time to time, but if you are systematically unable to perform the tasks you are expected to, this might be a sign of a bigger problem.

4. Bullying and gossiping is tolerated and even carried out by management.

If managers seem to tolerate and accept gossip and bullying between employees when it goes on in their presence, you can be sure that this work environment is toxic.

5. No respect for time boundaries.

Are you constantly expected to stay late? Does your boss ask you to do things just as you’re ready to leave? In a toxic workplace, you and your boundaries are not respected, and work will constantly trespass on your personal life.Toxic-Workplace-3

6. You are asked to lie or cover up for co-workers.

A toxic workplace knows no trust nor honesty. Therefore, if you’ve been in a situation where you had to lie or cover up for someone else, this points in the direction of a toxic work situation.

7. You are asked to lie to clients and/or falsify data.

A toxic workplace has no ethical standards towards its employees or clients. If your company misleads clients about products and numbers, this is a red flag showing a lack of internal ethical standards.

8. Sexual harassment, inappropriate remarks and sexual pressure.

If you or any of your coworkers are being pushed to engage in sexually degrading conversation or sexist jokes, or even if you are expected to behave in a certain sexual way in order to keep your job or move upwards in the company, you can be sure that this is a workplace that’s driven by power and greed, and one which is therefore toxic and harmful.

Do you think your workplace is toxic?

Get help from a professional coach

If you are working in a toxic workplace, you are not powerless. There are a number of things you can do to combat this. 

MyNextCompany is one of the very few organisations, if not the only one on the Belgian market, that offers career coach services free of charge.

We can assure you that interaction with a career coach will create a positive and lasting impact on your career. This will then help you surge ahead in your professional life.

Get me a career coach!


Gary Chapman S'élever au-dessus d'un milieu de travail toxiqueI’m now much less of an asset to the company than I could be. I keep my head down and for self-preservation just do my work with little conversation with anyone. Yet the irony is this: in my self-preservation, I’m actually destroying myself. In bottling up my unexpressed feelings, I’m making myself sick emotionally and physically. Gary Chapman, Rising Above a Toxic Workplace: Taking Care of Yourself in an Unhealthy Environment


Nicolas Christidis

Written by Nicolas Christidis

Nico is a true people leader and a talent whisperer. Has been in recruitment since before you could say “1999." After work, you will see him cheering for AS Saint-Étienne or on a tatami mat practising martial arts.