How to find out you are working in a toxic work culture

A great culture provides the context for people to deliver their best work, at work. In the same way, a toxic work culture spoils the best to go from bad to worse in a matter of days. — Anonymous

Work culture — google the world and you will get About 1,71,00,00,000 results (0.67 seconds) results. That’s how big a buzz this word has created in the market. But still there are plenty of organizations that fail to acknowledge how important it is to create a work culture where employee growth and creative freedom is kept at the forefront.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been working with an organization like ProofHub where employee happiness is always the first thing on the list. However, it was never the same. During the early years of my career I was involved with organizations which would fit perfectly into what we call today as ‘the true definition of toxic work culture’.

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So, what makes a work culture toxic. Why is it that some organizations have a flourishing career, while others fail to do so? Let us have a look at the elements that make a company culture go from bad to worse -

The ‘My way or highway’ attitude

I’m the boss and I am always right. Not many people would agree to it, but there is still a creed of businesses where there is only one person who has the say of whatever needs to be done. And, this is the first and most prominent sign that you are part of a work culture that’s not going to sustain for long.

Your ideas might be heard, but at the end it is what the boss or the manager who has the last say.

High employee turnover

What’s the longest run an employee has had with your current organization? A year? Two maybe? Maximum three? Got my point? High turnover is a clear reflection that there’s something wrong with the company culture.

And, if the management is not doing anything about it or not taking any measures to understand what’s wrong thinking that it does not matter as long as the cash is flowing, then you need to think twice about whether you can have a future you always wanted with such an organization.

Everyone talks about job change

Not just high turnover, even the hottest topic of discussion in the office is job change. Wherever you sit, be it in lunch room or casual chat over the coffee machine, the only thing you hear is random topics of job searches and leaving.

How can you expect anyone to focus when they are constantly on the lookout for better opportunities? That’s exactly the case here. Think about it — if you find yourself always in the middle of conversations involving job change with your office employees, it clearly means you are part of a toxic work culture.

There are meetings and then there are secrets

Okay, so having meetings and discussion sessions with employees is a positive sign. But when those meetings have the agenda that you are not supposed to discuss them with anyone in the open, then things are certainly not quite like what they should be.

A good company culture involves keeping things in the open. However when you see there are secret team meetings, team members are not allowed to discuss their even though they are working on the same project, you can sense that the work culture is certainly going from bad to worse.

Appreciation is the last thing on the card

Apart from all the factors mentioned above, the one last thing I’d like to include in this list has to be lack of employee appreciation. People no longer crave for just money, rather they love their work being appreciated. As a matter of fact, employee appreciation ranks right on top when it comes to the list of factors that drive employee happiness.

Come to think of it, when was the last time you received a pat on the back for something you did? Or, when was it that you received a round of applause from the team for achieving your target. Can’t remember it? Congratulations — you have made it through one such organization with toxic work culture.

These were just my thoughts, based on what I have experienced as a working professional for all these years. I am sure there would be many people who have similar or the opposite to these experiences. I’d love to hear them out. Do share them in the comments below.

“Give the boost your company culture needs. Start using ProofHub.”


Vartika Kashyap runs the marketing team at ProofHub — a project management software for teams of all sizes. She is a seasoned marketing professional who is an expert in digital marketing and entrepreneurship. She’s been featured among LinkedIn’s Top Voices for the year 2016 & 2017. Connect with Vartika on LinkedIn, Medium and Twitter.

Also follow our company page @ProofHub to get the recent updates about our tool, published articles, motivational quotes & presentations.


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