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5 red flags of a bad workplace: Find a new job!

We spend one third of the day at work: that is simply too long to be in a toxic working atmosphere.

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We spend one third of the day at work: that is simply too long to be in a toxic working atmosphere.

Every professional’s dream is working in a positive, productive and healthy workplace.

The most desired type of a company is one where you are capable of growing and advancing; where the management values your contribution; where your privacy is respected and your needs are met; where the stress is reduced to a minimum and transparency is a company’s policy.

Of course, these types of companies seem quite Utopist, especially when compared to the most common workplace experiences.

Although many companies offer satisfying working conditions, there are some companies where you can notice numerous red flags. Since these red flags are often not so conspicuous, you should pay attention to the following signs of a toxic workplace atmosphere.

Consequently, the toxic workplace is one of the crucial reasons to find a job at another company.

1. Promotion is nowhere on the horizon

It’s only natural for professionals to want to climb up the corporate ladder. Many individuals invest a great deal of their knowledge, time, energy and ambition into making a name for themselves and rising to top in their work environment.

Unfortunately, there are companies where hard-working people get constantly passed up on a promotion.

They become disillusioned about the opportunities that the workplace offers to them and start contemplating the next logical step in their professional life. Frequently, they decide to move on.

Before blaming the management for its poor judgement, first we should try to analyze the situation being as objective as possible.

After the careful introspection, if you still feel that your contribution to the company has been undermined, then it's time to offer your expertise somewhere else, i.e. a company which doesn’t exhibit signs of bad policies.

2. Enormous amount of stress


The effects of stress connected to the workplace have been researched extensively by numerous prominent research facilities, universities, agencies, scientists etc. It has been proven beyond any doubt that the consequences are devastating.

Among the most common reasons for stress at the workplace are:

  • Long hours;
  • Fear of losing one’s job;
  • Hectic working conditions;
  • Impossible deadlines;
  • Aggressive communication between coworkers.

If you notice that stress is ingrained in the work culture of the company, then it’s definitely a red flag that should point you at a different, more relaxed direction.

3. Work doesn’t end when you’re off work

When does it end? Does it end the moment you leave the office? Or perhaps you bring it home even when you aren’t supposed to? The truth is ‑ we’ve all done that. We’ve all brought back work home with us, even if has been in a form of checking work e-mails.

Closely linked to the previous red flag, that is, the stress, is the third red flag ‑ being on your toes workwise outside of the office hours.

When this stressful habit of checking work e-mails invades our personal life, then it’s time to reconsider our professional engagement. The questions we need to ask ourselves are:

  • Why do I feel obliged to check work e-mails at home?
  • Was this imposed by my employer?
  • What happens when employees don’t respond to e-mails when they are off work?
  • Will there be any consequences if I openly refuse to spend my free time on work-related issues?

If the employer has a habit of sending work e-mails over the weekend, or after work, there is a big chance that he/she wants to manage you always without any regard to your personal life.

This is a big red flag that shouldn’t be discarded, especially because it leads to too much stress and consequently, to health issues.

4. Lack of empathy among coworkers and the management

We should never forget the human factor in the workplace. Sure, it is a formal setting where employees complete assignments, but the fact that humans work there should be taken into consideration.

A bad working environment displays outrageous lack of empathy among colleagues, which can lead to many conflicts.

According to Gerdes and Segal (2011) “empathy can be taught, increased, refined, and mediated to prepare professionals to become more skillful and resilient.”

When people fail to sympathize with others and don’t try to understand the other person’s point of view, it can be a sign for you to go and look for a new job.

Although this is a subtler red flag, it’s one of the deciding factors in the decision to move to another company.

5. Bad leadership

The fifth red flag that you need to watch out for is bad leadership within the company.

Managing a company successfully can be a daunting task even for the most capable and efficient individuals.

The natural born leaders inspire their employees, rather than command them. They lead by example.

Who wouldn’t want to work in a company lead by forward-thinking employers?

The answer is simple and unanimous.

Fortunate employees thrive in a positive working environment. The less fortunate need to open their eyes wide in search of potential red flags concerning the management of the company.

In order to do so, there are several signs that might reveal the truth about the leaders of certain companies.

These are the warning signs:

  • They are lazy and inefficient although they boast with their “diligence”;
  • They don’t treat their employees equally;
  • They don’t nurture an environment where progress is supported;
  • They show a low EQ and lack of empathy;
  • They are everything but transparent in their decisions;
  • They don’t inspire trust among the coworkers;
  • They participate in the office gossip;
  • They maintain an unhealthy workplace;
  • They have no respect for their employees’ privacy;
  • They don’t appreciate work well done.

This check list covers some of the key points that should raise a red flag. It means that sooner or later, the hard-working and honest employees would leave that toxic environment where true values are discarded.

To sum up, the five red flags of a bad workplace should drive us towards finding a new job and making a change.

We spend one third of the day at work: that is simply too long to be in a toxic working atmosphere, because being an employee at a bad workplace reflects terribly on many other aspects of your life: physically, psychologically and emotionally.

If you spot these 5 red flags, it means it’s time for a new beginning, a new chance, a new hope.

About the author 

Elida Melova has a BA in English Language and Literature and is Professor of English Language and Literature at West End Academy. 

Written by

Kelvin Mokaya

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