What is a toxic workplace? 

A toxic workplace is one where bullying, hostility, and other negative behaviours are ingrained in the culture. Employees in toxic workplace experience stress, limited communication, a culture of blame, and rewards for dishonest, harmful, or unpleasant attitudes and behaviours. In a toxic workplace, managers frequently display favouritism, rewarding particular employees for going above and beyond to achieve results, regardless of the human costs of their decisions (Personio, 2022). 

A toxic workplace can encourage unethical behaviour such as racism, lying, or making false promises. Employees in a toxic work environment may be reluctant to speak their minds, raise concerns, or share thoughts because they fear being rejected or reprimanded (Hetler, 2023 ).


1. Bad communication 

Communication skills are the most important skills needed in any successful organization because so much falls under the communication umbrella, including listening skills (both as an employer and an employee), verbal communication, written communication, preferences on how to communicate, and the list goes on. In fact, inadequate, confusing, or scattered communication is the cause of so many problems in the workplace. If the employee’s company has poor communication practices, hold on tight. The employee is probably in a toxic environment that's only going to get worse over time. Bad communication frequently results in confusion and a lack of purpose for employees. 

2. Cliques, Exclusion and Gossipy Behaviour

 A clique is that group of people that sticks together, grabs coffee together, laughs at inside jokes (of which they somehow have about one million), and generally excludes anyone outside of their close-knit circle whether it's at work or in school. Simply put, cliques are counterproductive in the workplace. While having workplace friends and acquaintances is good, any behaviour that can be described as “clique-ish” is best to be avoided. Steer clear of any cliques, workplace bullies, or exclusionary groups. Nobody wants to go back to middle school, no matter how good the benefits might be. 

3. Poor Leadership 

Poor bosses come in all shapes and sizes; employees might have a micromanaging boss who constantly corrects them, undermines their decisions, and ultimately prevents them from doing their job. Poor leadership can seep into every fibre of an organization and it frequently does. Sometimes a poor boss is the product of their poor boss and so on. Leadership conduct is extremely important. It sets the tone for how others behave at work. If there is an HR department can try communicating these issues. 

4. Unmotivated Co-workers 

When the employees find themselves in a workplace full of unmotivated co-workers, it’s going to take its toll on them. They might make the employees to shoulder a ton of work that they aren’t handling and find themselves burnout. Their lack of motivation is going to bum the employees out, and burn them out with a type of under challenged burnout. Some of the colleagues can motivate the employees to work harder, be better, and incubate new ideas 

Unlike the unmotivated employees, they are usually a result of a much larger organizational problem. Perhaps it’s bad communication from the top. It might be disorganization, disenfranchisement with leadership, or general distrust. Whatever it is, if everyone around the employees is unmotivated, they’re in a toxic work environment. 

5. Rapid Employee Turnover 

Rapid employee turnover is a pretty sure sign that a workplace is toxic. It's never easy to leave a job, but when there’s many people are doing so, something is seriously wrong. Pay attention to the turnover rate in the company because it often indicates disorganization, a lack of focus, poor leadership, or a lack of opportunity. On the other hand, if the employees are routinely let go or fired, this may point to some other toxic factors. 


1. Consider the options 

Generally speaking, there are two options: stay and navigate the toxicity, or leave. It may seem like an easy decision, but the reality is that the employees may need to stay, at least temporarily, for a variety of reasons. For example, perhaps they can't leave the job abruptly or at all due to financial or immigration issues, or there aren't many other options in your industry. It's also possible that the employer offers something unusual that makes any decision more difficult, such as remote work or able to carry the children at workplace as it would not disturb the work. 

2. Put employees first 

People keep the company running. Learn about employees and their needs and create honest conversations. Find out any barriers and involve employees in discussions to fix these problems. 

3. Reward and recognize 

Show gratitude daily, even if it's just a simple thank you. By recognizing all success, management can make their team feel appreciated and create a sense of accomplishment. Create a peer-to-peer recognition program so employees can thank others for a job well done. 

4. Model expectations 

Leaders should model expected behaviour consistently. They should be trained on toxic workplace culture, ways to identify it and how to prevent it. 

5. Hire the right people 

Attitude is a skill set that cannot be taught. Employees can learn skills to do their jobs, but it's difficult to remove toxic behaviours. When hiring at all levels of the organization, choose employees that are positive and have a team-oriented attitude to promote a positive workplace 


Causes of toxic at the workplace 

1. Undefined company’s core values 

It is common for companies to declare their core values, mission, and vision on their websites but fail to follow through with it, or that the company's core values are not outlined or are not taken seriously 

2. No company culture at all 

There is very little casual conversation, everyone is very focused on their own work, and you don't even know your coworkers' last names when there is no culture. It feels like you come to work every day, work your 8 to 10 hours, and leave (Luintel, 2023). 

3. Poor management 

Bosses either allow bad behaviour to continue or do nothing to stop it. Sometimes leaders have good intentions but lack the leadership skills necessary to create and maintain healthy workplaces. Or, managers may be more preoccupied with power and control or with raw output than with fostering productive and positive work environments

 4. Employees’ behaviour 

Employees themselves may be the root of the toxicity. It is important to correct or remove harmful employees early on or to use recruitment processes that identify and filter out these kinds of personalities before these bad seeds have a chance to influence the rest of the workforce and office environment. Negativity tends to spread, and even a single aggressive, manipulative, or overly-pessimistic employee can make the rest of the staff miserable (Robinson, 2022). 


1. Disengagement and disconnection 

Disengagement and disconnection are the one of the most common and most harmful effects of workplace toxicity. Employees need to feel a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose in the required tasks to perform their best work. Repeated conflict and a toxic work environment where workers down, drain their energy, shake their confidence, and make them feel hopeless and helpless. 

2. Low morale 

Workers simply go through the motions, motivation is minimal to non-existent, and team members find little to no joy in their jobs. Energy is low, moods tend to be gloomy, and team members feel helpless and hopeless and frequently express these emotions. When disengagement and disconnection happen in large numbers, poor morale is frequently the result (Robinson, 2022). 

3. Damage to mental and physical health 

Being a part of a toxic workplace can cause employees to experience significant anxiety and stress, which, if left unchecked and untreated, can develop into longer-term conditions that require time and professional help to mentally recover from, according to a study published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal). Working at a company that doesn't care about staff's psychological wellbeing, triples employees' chances of developing depression. According to WebMd, chronic stress can contribute to conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Excessive stress can also cause physical symptoms, such as muscle and chest pain, fatigue, sleep issues, and upset stomach. There is no denying that workplace toxicity is a major ongoing stressor and can greatly harm employee wellbeing, even though these symptoms are not unique to bad jobs. Any potential threat to employee health is a serious issue and deserves consideration (Robinson, 2022). 

4. Decreased productivity 

Toxic workplaces tend to have higher absenteeism rates, both because staff calls in sick to avoid jobs they hate and because they have real health issues, which lead to inefficiency. Recent scientific research has confirmed a link between toxic work environments and lower worker productivity, with special attention paid to factors such as bullying, ostracism, incivility, and harassment. Even when employees are present, they are not necessarily in the mood or proper mental state to work. Employees often lose the will to work completely or suffer slowdowns due to the effects of adversity. (Robinson, 2022). 


In conclusion, toxic at the workplace may cause employees to feel punished, rejected, guilty, defensive and humiliated. Employees find it difficult to work in this environment because of negative behaviours from management and co-workers. Each of company has its own toxicity and everyone would not even run away from it. Therefore, employees should be aware of all these signs so that they can overcome it perpetually. 


1. Hetler, A. (2023). 11 signs of toxic workplace culture. 

2. Do You Have A Toxic Work Environment (And How Do You Fix It)? (2022b, April 14). Personio.’Hair, D., & Wiemann, M. (2012). Real communication: An introduction (2nd ed.). New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s 

3. 10 signs you’re in a toxic work environment. What to do next | Career Contessa. (n.d.-c). Career Contessa. 

4. Luintel, S. (2023b, January 2). Effects of working in an unhealthy work environment - TimeTracko. timeTracko.

 5. Robinson, A. (2022b). Workplace Toxicity: The Ultimate Guide.