According to PayScale writer Padmaja Ganeshan-Singh, there’s no such thing as a perfect job. There’s always something you’ll want to change, she says, and that’s OK — so long as you don’t feel “threatened, suffocated, or compromised on your principles, work ethic, or professional and personal well-being.”
If that’s the case, she writes in a Money piece titled “5 Signs Your Work Environment Is Toxic,” you’ve got yourself a more dire situation. Rather than try to improve the place from within, it might behove you to start looking for something new, lest the toxicity start to affect your mental and emotional health.
Ganeshan-Singh’s first symptom: the place is full of unhealthy of competition. Whereas an office full of strivers can sometimes be inspiring, as everyone tries to elevate their game to hang with the pack, there’s a danger of people becoming too competitive, playing against each other, and putting each other down. As Ganeshan-Singh writes, if you spend most of your time defending yourself or doing “damage control,” you’re in a truly bad spot.
Next up: “your managers are not managing well.” There are numerous ways a boss can mismanage an office, and some are more blatant than others. Maybe they berate employees in public or constantly give assignments to their favorite workers. If they’re constantly acting aggressive or breaking rules of conduct, Ganeshan-Singh writes, you may have no choice but to report them.
Which is all fine and good, unless “HR doesn’t help,” which is sign No. 3 you’re stuck in Toxic-Ville. If you reach out to the department, and they tell you something like, “Just be happy you have a job,” it’s a major red flag that something is wrong. ” They’re not doing what they’re supposed to do and in all probability, they never will,” Ganeshan-Singh writes. “Get away from the place if you can.”
Sometimes, the bad behavior is right in your own department, where bullying might be accepted behavior. That’s Ganeshan-Singh’s fourth warning sign, and it’s an important one. If a few people on the team are being “reckless and insensitive,” and it’s affecting everyone else’s work, there’s something very much amiss.
Lastly, Ganeshan-Singh writes, in a toxic workplace, “leadership doesn’t see it.” It’s not that they’re doing their due diligence and simply not spotting the iffy behavior; they’re simply too focused on the bottom line — making sure everyone delivers — to really care. If the higher-ups are wearing blinders and sacrificing the well-being of employees in the name of productivity or profit, things are most definitely toxic.