Published May 5, 2024

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

How to Identify a Toxic Work Culture ?

The work environment is packed with a lot of activities and it is packed with a lot of people too; they could be your colleagues or even your subordinates. These individuals have various values and beliefs. The values and beliefs they have shape them in terms of their personality and how they behave and act in the workplace. However, these values and beliefs may sometimes clash with your own, causing you to be unhappy.

Let us consider what it means to be in a toxic work environment, or rather, a work place with a toxic culture. Have you ever been in a situation where the environment doesn’t just feel right, where there is so much anxiety and the people around you are making things worse? Well, this is how it feels to be in a toxic work environment. A toxic work culture isn’t just limited to having feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression; it could also be a lack of psychological safety.

Psychological safety in a work environment

Toxic work environments could also pertain to being unable to speak up or say what is on your mind when you want. Various teams in different work environments face this challenge. Of course, an institution or organization would progress with a diversity of thoughts and ideas, but when these thoughts and ideas are locked up because of the fear of rejection emanating from a terrible work culture, it becomes hard to progress.

But the question now is, what is psychological safety and what does it mean when you are psychologically safe? Psychological safety or being psychologically safe is the mental thought and belief that you will be safe and you won’t get hurt no matter how you express and say your thoughts in the workplace or environment. It is the ability to comfortably admit your mistakes and learn from them without fear of rejection.

Forms of toxic work culture

Beyond the stress, anxiety, and lack of psychological safety, a toxic work culture can appear in different forms. And most of the time, you might not know that you are in a workplace that has a toxic work culture. Here are some forms that harmful work culture could come in:

1. Overworking for long periods of time

In a work environment where you are supposed to resume at 9am and close at 5pm, but then you overwork yourself up until 7pm, is a major form of toxic work culture. Overworking yourself is never a good thing. You have no life balance and you do not have any time to spend with family and friends. Overworking for long hours just because you want to please the boss or earn more money would mean putting your health and the relationship with your friends and family at risk. To avoid this, ensure you have good boundaries and a proper work life balance.

2. Hostile working conditions

A hostile work environment is often due to the inability of HR to create a safe work space. A situation where you are mocked about how you look, your religion, your race, your skin color, is all the result of a toxic work environment. An environment where you cannot be your real and authentic self is a hostile environment and breeds a toxic culture. In order to solve this, the HR department of a company or organization needs to ensure that the work culture is changed and that it is a safe place for employees.

3. Playing the blame game

A work environment where no one is ready to take responsibility and act accountably creates a toxic work culture. When deadlines in an organization or company are not met, it could hinder the company from making progress. In order to solve this, employees need to become accountable and should avoid covering up their mistakes or trying to blame them on others.

Dealing with a toxic work culture

In order to deal with toxic work cultures, an organization needs to make certain decisions that would create an environment conducive to a positive work culture. When this is done, employees can have a proper work-life balance. Here are 2 major ways organizations could deal with toxic work cultures:

  •  Considering remote work options

Research has shown that when employees work from home, there is a major decrease in hostility and toxic work culture. So, in dealing with a toxic work culture, a company should provide its workers with the opportunity to work from home.

  • Effective communication

Leaders and employees in an organization should learn how to communicate with each other properly. This would lead to a better understanding of the needs, values, and beliefs of each other.

A toxic work culture could hinder the progress of a company and its employees, observing the signs toxic work culture could be showing itself are very important in dealing with it. With proper knowledge and understanding, dealing with a this toxic culture would be a simple task.