While we all work to earn a living, it is important to have a job that suits your mental and physical health. Yes, you may make good money from that job, but at what cost?
Does the job only care about making profits, or does it care for your well-being as their employee? Are there any opportunities to do what you are good at and thrive in your career?
The thing with toxic job environments is that it does not take long for you to notice the red flags. Many toxic signs are usually clearly evident from the interview or the first day of starting the job.
Starting a new job soon? Watch out for these toxic signs because they typically mean you will have a rough time at the job you are about to start.
1. Everyone Walks on Eggshells Around the Boss
One of the clear warning signs to watch out for is when the employees appear to be anxious or on the edge when around their superiors, and especially their immediate boss.
This is often a clear indication of a poor work dynamic between the two parties.
In such cases, you can anticipate the boss yelling at employees, rudely dismissing their ideas, exploitation, and poor work-life balance.
This poor dynamic often results in poor communication, burnout, and even reduced productivity and creativity in the workforce.
You also want to watch out for other signs, such as all the employees collectively hating on the boss behind the boss’s back. It is a sign of a bigger underlying problem.
2. High Turnover Rates
In the past 12 months, 5 people have held and resigned or got fired from the position you have just been hired for. Then, when you start working, you realize that many other employees are actively looking for an exit plan.
High turnover is a huge red flag that typically indicates a problematic workplace. If you notice this pattern when you get hired by a company, you may want to find out the reason behind the high turnover rate. What is so bad about that workplace that nobody wants to stay there for a year?
A lot of times, a high turnover rate is due to problems such as poor management, a toxic work culture, inadequate compensation, exploitation, or a lack of opportunities for career growth.
3. Lack of Growth Opportunities
Picture yourself five years from now. Do you want to be in the same position and still earn the same amount?
Certainly, no, you want to be on a higher pay grade in a better position with new skills and experiences. This is why you want to watch out for companies that do not offer growth opportunities to their employees.
When starting a new job, one of the critical considerations for your long-term career satisfaction is the potential for professional development and advancement within the organization. A lack of growth opportunities can stifle your career progression and motivation.
As a new hire, chat with the other employees and inquire about how long they have been working in the company and the promotions they have received. You may also want to talk to HR about this and see if there is a clear path for advancement.
If the most dedicated people in the company have been in the same junior position for eight years, then you, too, may also be getting into a stagnation pool.
If you notice it is a popular pattern in the company, you are safer starting to look for an exit plan as soon as you can.
Now, growth opportunities are more than just job promotion and salary increments. While these are important, you want to know if the company offers training to keep their employees on par with the changing industry trends.
4. Dishonesty During Interviews
The interview is not just a time for the interviewers and company staff to examine your capabilities, skills, and experiences. If you are keen, it can become an opportunity to notice whether the work environment is an excellent match for you.
During the interviewing stage, both you and the employer must maintain a high level of transparency and honesty.
If they can be dishonest during the interview stage, you can expect they will keep taking it to higher levels when you start working.
Some ways dishonesty manifests during interviews include role misinterpretation and ambiguity, concealment of company issues, or false promises.
You also want to watch out for unethical behaviors during the interview, such as pressuring you to provide confidential information, for example, about your current employer.
If something feels off or too good to be true during the interview process, trust your instincts. Consider whether this is the environment you want to work in and whether the employer’s behavior aligns with your values.
5. Resentment Among Colleagues
When you enter a new workplace, you hope to join a team where collaboration and mutual support prevail. However, if you notice resentment among your new colleagues, it can be a significant red flag that points to underlying issues within the organization.
To begin with, working in an environment where resentment is prevalent can be emotionally taxing. It can lead to increased stress and anxiety, affecting both job satisfaction and mental well-being.
Resentment can negatively impact overall productivity. When colleagues are at odds with each other, it can lead to a decrease in work efficiency, communication breakdown, poor collaboration, and effectiveness.
Resentment can emerge when your colleagues perceive you as their competition or threat.
A lot of times, it stems from unequal distribution of work, favoritism, conflicts of interest, or perceived unfair treatment, all of which are red flags on their own.
You also want to watch out for coworker drama, such as office gossip. If there are always groups gossiping and fighting each other, then it is not an environment you will thrive in.
6. “We Are Family”
“We are Family” is supposed to be a slogan that encourages unity, togetherness, and a close-knit feeling, but a lot of times, it turns out to be the exact opposite. Unfortunately, if the company is heavy on “we are family,” it often translates to them expecting you to put their profits first at the expense of your well-being. It could go from them taking advantage of you at every opportunity, never giving anyone pay raises, normalizing and ignoring abuse.
It could also mean stepping in for colleagues on very short notices or the employer expecting you to forfeit your leave days for the company.
Simply put, “we are family” in a work setting means the expectation to go out of your way for your employer even if they do not have your back. It is often the perfect model of giving and giving, even when your cup runs empty.
7. Poor or Lack of Onboarding
The first warning sign that there will be little or no onboarding is when the job advertisement or the interviewer says they want someone who will “hit the ground running.”
This phrase alone should be enough to raise eyebrows because effective onboarding is a critical component of a successful start in a new job. It’s a process through which new employees are introduced to the company’s culture, values, policies, and procedures and provided with the necessary training and resources to excel in their roles.
Now, if you arrive, and the boss is suddenly up and down trying to randomly choose someone to onboard you, that is also a red flag. A company should have a proper onboarding process, and they should be prepared to do it even before you arrive.
Additionally, it is never a good sign if the person in charge of your onboarding cannot answer most of your questions. It is also a bad sign if access to resources is not provided in time. For instance, many people are given work laptops on the first day, but it takes ages for them to get correct work logins.
8. “We’re Improving Work Culture”
Unfortunately, “we are improving work culture” is not always a good sign as it should be. If this comes up in your new job, you want to find out what they are doing to improve the work culture and what they are trying to move from.
A lot of times, this phrase means that a lot of employees hate it there for one reason or another.
Are they doing anything to enhance communication and employees’ well-being and appreciation? Are they doing anything to enhance diversity? Do they have measures that protect employees from harassment and abuse? Do they willingly accept employees’ ideas and feedback?
If all they do to improve work culture is organize “end-of-year pizza parties,” then you will probably not thrive in that environment.
9. Tasks Outside Your Role
If the employer expects you to do anything and everything for the company, then you will obviously not deliver effectively for what you were hired for.
One sign to beware of is when the job description says you will be needed to do “additional tasks as needed.”
Ensure your job description is clear; you may do just about anything that does not involve you.
This is especially something to watch out for if you are applying for the job of a project manager. Project managers often end up “wearing many hats.” If the job description is not clear, you will end up being responsible for sales, project management, research and development, design, analysis, purchasing, inventory, manufacturing planning, supplier management, and quality testing.
If this is your case, you will be burnt out every other day. You will also earn one salary for holding numerous positions.
You do not want to be a jack of all trades and a master of none. When you get hired, ensure your job description is transparent so that you can give your dedication to what you know best.
10. Burnt Out Colleagues
Does everyone seem to be constantly on their toes, exhausted, demoralized, and stressed out? Then that could be a sign of them being overworked and probably without adequate lunch and break periods.
On the first days, observe if everyone takes time for breaks and lunch. It is not uncommon for employees to keep working during the lunch breaks to cover the huge workload they have. Many others work long after their clocking-out time.
This is a huge red flag that should not be ignored. It often means that the place is severely understaffed, and the few employees need to go above and beyond to cover for this inadequacy.
Constant employee burnout is a huge risk factor for your mental and physical health and productivity.
11. “Can You Start Tomorrow?”
When you have been unemployed for a long time, your goal would likely be to get hired and start as soon as you can.
But what if you are employed elsewhere and looking for a change?
It is a red flag when the interviewer or employer asks you to immediately quit your current job and start working with them immediately. You need time to resign and clear things out with your current employer before you move.
If they want you to start immediately, it just shows their desperation, often from someone else quitting abruptly and without notice. Of course, nobody would quit abruptly in a supportive and healthy work environment.
Although often overlooked, another red flag is them calling you minutes after submitting your application. People have gotten such and asked to start work the same day. This level of desperation from their side is a sign of an underlying problem.
12. Inadequate Safety Measures
When you begin a new job and notice that the company lacks proper safety measures or fails to prioritize the well-being of its employees, it’s a significant red flag that should not be ignored.
For instance, if you need PPEs for work, and none is provided, then you have every reason to ask those responsible.
Inadequate safety measures can pose significant health and safety risks to employees. This can result in accidents, injuries, and even long-term health issues.
If your safety is the least of your employer’s concerns, you have no business risking your well-being.
13. No Opportunities for Feedback
A company’s meeting should be a discussion that looks into what everyone has to bring to the team. However, if the meeting is a monologue from the boss or the manager, it is a space that does not welcome people’s ideas and feedback.
A lot of times, the manager in these cases expects everyone to follow their way or take the highway.
You also want to ensure that there are other avenues to receive and give clear feedback. If it is too difficult to access the HR or the manager’s feedback, it is a red flag.
You want to be able to give feedback on how things can be done better and receive feedback on how to improve professionally.
14. Inadequate Work Resources
Inadequate or difficulty accessing work resources can become apparent from the first day you arrive.
Now, it is understandable that companies would do anything to cut costs, and one such way to achieve this is by regulating how employees use resources such as stationery.
However, if you must move mountains and go through many offices to acquire something as simple as the stationery you need for your work, you have all the reasons to worry.
This could go from simple things to complex ones, such as the employer asking you to pay for work travel from your pocket and promise to refund later.
Starting a new job often requires access to the necessary resources and tools to perform your role effectively. When you discover that the company doesn’t provide adequate resources, it can hinder your productivity and job satisfaction.
It is a huge warning sign if the employer is out to pinch resources at the cost of the employees.
15. No Handbook or Contract
For starters, not having a written policy handbook often opens up the opportunity for the managers or supervisors to shift goalposts. What they considered correct today will be considered wrong tomorrow.
To have a clear understanding of the company’s policies, values, instructions, and rules, always ask for a handbook during your onboarding process.
You also want to have an employee contract for the legal protection of both parties and to ensure you clearly understand your obligations, rights, and responsibilities in the company.
Also, ensure you fill out tax paperwork to reflect all the hours you worked for.
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