toxic workplace culture

Toxic Workplace Culture – 10 Critical Signs and Solutions for Managers

Do you feel undervalued, disrespected, or unappreciated at work? Are you tired of walking on eggshells and constantly feeling stressed out? If so, you may be experiencing a toxic workplace culture. A toxic environment can have devastating effects on employees, including high levels of burnout and turnover rates. 

In this blog, we will dive deeper into toxic workplace culture and the signs that indicate it exists in your workplace. We will also provide solutions for managers to address these issues head-on and create a positive work environment that fosters employee well-being and productivity. So join us as we explore how to transform your workplace into one that supports growth, positivity, and success.

What is a toxic workplace culture?

A toxic workplace culture is an environment where team members feel unacknowledged, inadequately supported, and undervalued. A toxic workplace culture is one where the climate and behaviors of employees and management harm the team’s well-being. 

It can manifest in various ways, including high-stress levels, poor communication, lack of transparency, low morale, bullying or harassment, discrimination, and a general lack of support for employees’ physical and emotional health. Poor leadership and communication problems are often the root causes. However, managers can address toxicity by prioritizing employee wellness, fostering a positive work atmosphere, and addressing underlying issues.

Effects of Toxic Workplace Culture

In addition to causing employee dissatisfaction, a toxic workplace culture can manifest in several negative ways. For example, team members may suffer from chronic stress due to unaddressed issues within the workplace. High turnover rates can signal more profound problems with the team’s core values or corporate culture. The most significant impact comes on the well-being and productivity of the people who are building the team.

Burnout and high turnover

In a toxic workplace culture, burnout and high turnover are red flags of chronic stress, dissatisfaction, and mental health issues among team members. When employees are not encouraged by their managers or colleagues, they may feel isolated and unsupported. Without working support systems and constant high-stress demands, team members are more likely to overwork and exhaust themselves. In addition, a lack of psychological safety further increases the pressure. 

Negative impact on employee retention

High turnover rates and employee dissatisfaction directly result from a hostile work environment. Toxicity in the workplace leads to decreased productivity and morale as team members become burned out from chronic stress. In addition, the impact on employee retention is significant as team members may lose trust in their direct reports or the team’s culture due to poor communication or unethical behavior. Broken down communication channels, grapevines, frequent conflicts, and micromanaging attitude of the manager only add to the reasons for team members to leave. 

Workplace gossip and negative attitudes

Toxic behaviors like workplace gossip and negative attitudes contribute to a toxic work environment that directly impacts team members’ well-being. For example, office gossip indicates a toxic workplace culture, leading to mistrust and decreased productivity. Likewise, negativity spreads like wildfire in an organization’s culture affecting everything from employee retention to bottom-line results. 

Signs of a Toxic Workplace Culture

Many warning signs other than toxicity can identify a toxic workplace culture. For example, a high employee turnover rate often indicates something wrong with the work environment. Along with this comes low morale and frequent conflicts among team members. The lack of transparency in communication and decision-making leads to micromanagement, resulting in distrust among the direct reports. Discrimination or harassment towards certain employees or groups also negatively impacts the company culture. Unhealthy competition, colleague sabotage, and heavy workload leading to burnout are signs of toxic work culture.

Lack of appreciation for employees

Managers must appreciate their teams to promote a positive work environment and reduce toxicity in the workplace culture. Employees who feel appreciated are more engaged and motivated to achieve better results. On the other hand, toxic workplace cultures frequently fail to recognize their team members, and achievements are rarely celebrated. As a result, team members find it hard to develop a sense of belonging with the team, creating a rift that widens with every negative incident.

High levels of competition and cutthroat behavior

Encouraging healthy competition is great for the growth of the team’s culture and a good experience for the employees. However, excessive competition can create a toxic workplace culture, leading to chronic stress and dissatisfaction among team members. Backstabbing and gossiping about coworkers’ flaws or achievements behind their backs creates an unpleasant working environment that inhibits inclusion and mentorship opportunities. High turnover rates are inevitable when there is a toxic workplace environment where people feel they cannot be their best selves. In such cases, managers must understand the impact their ideas can make – are they pushing everyone for the better or leading them toward the exit? 

Poor work-life balance

Employees experiencing poor work-life balance can experience burnout, chronic stress, and lack of productivity. The warning signs of poor work-life balance often include long working hours, high absenteeism or presenteeism, and an unwillingness to take time off. It is likelier to happen with remote teams, as personal and professional boundaries frequently get blurred. The constant pressure to keep working, even when the need for breaks becomes evident, is a sure sign of employee well-being going downhill.

Solutions for Managers and Leaders

A manager must create a positive workplace culture that prioritizes employee well-being. Managers and leaders can achieve this through various means, such as encouraging open communication and setting clear expectations for behavior. Conflict resolution training can also be provided to improve emotional intelligence among team members. Some critical steps that managers can take to improve a toxic workplace culture are: 

Prioritizing employee mental health and well-being

Encouraging open communication and providing resources for employees to seek support is crucial in prioritizing employee mental health and well-being. Implementing policies like flexible work hours, mental health days, and wellness programs promote a positive work culture that values physical as well as mental well-being. Prioritizing leaders’ mental health sets a positive tone for the organization. Creating a safe and supportive environment increases productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention rates. Building trust with direct reports is the first step in creating an inclusive workplace culture that discourages toxic behaviors like workplace gossip or negative conversations while building psychological safety.

Implementing benefits and perks for employees

By prioritizing employee well-being, it is possible to create a positive work culture even in the face of toxic workplace culture. For example, offering benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off can go a long way in promoting physical health. At the same time, perks like flexible work hours, remote work options, and team-building activities contribute significantly to maintaining mental wellness. Leaders should select generous offerings by considering individual needs that promote the team’s values. By implementing these offerings, teams demonstrate that they value employees’ well-being apart from improving their bottom line through a more productive and secure workplace.

Addressing negativity and fostering positive attitudes

Creating an inclusive work environment can help alleviate signs of a toxic workplace culture. Managers and leaders need to address negative behaviors through constructive feedback, coaching, and mentorship. Ensure that bullying and bias are dealt with correctly and with the seriousness they merit. Encouraging honest communication and providing clarity can reduce distrust among team members.

Celebrating small wins and offering employee perks such as gift cards and flexible work hours can improve physical health and well-being. A positive work culture starts with prioritizing mental health, setting core values, and promoting transparency at the individual level. It begins with the managers adopting positivity in the workplace. Proactively addressing toxicity in the workplace helps teams lower turnover rates while creating a more inclusive environment.

Handling workplace gossip and negative conversations

Reducing workplace toxicity is integral to maintaining a healthy work culture. Handling workplace gossip and negative conversations can be a challenging task for managers. However, it is necessary to promote a positive work environment. Establishing clear communication guidelines that encourage open and honest dialogue is crucial to addressing negativity in the office.

Redirecting the conversation towards positive solutions not only fosters positivity but also promotes collaboration among team members. Managers must lead by example by avoiding participating in or perpetuating negative talk to reduce gossip in the office space. Similarly, set healthy examples for dealing with office politics. Promoting transparency at an individual level while ensuring clarity among team members fosters trust within the workforce.

Read further for further insights on negative workplace conversations here: How Can You Prevent A Negative Conversation At Work From Escalating?


In conclusion, toxic workplace culture is a serious issue that can harm employees and your organization’s overall success. It’s crucial to watch for signs of toxicity and take proactive steps to address them. As a manager or leader, you are responsible for prioritizing employee mental health and well-being, implementing benefits and perks, fostering positive attitudes, and effectively handling negative conversations. Creating a positive work environment can improve employee morale, reduce burnout and turnover rates, and ultimately boost productivity and success. Want to learn more about how to create a healthy workplace culture? Check out our blog on five ways to build a positive work environment.

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What is a toxic workplace culture?

A toxic workplace culture refers to an environment where negative behaviors, attitudes, and practices prevail, creating an unhealthy and hostile atmosphere that hinders productivity, growth, and well-being of employees.

What are the characteristics of a toxic workplace culture?

Characteristics of a toxic workplace culture include frequent bullying, lack of communication and transparency, favoritism, high levels of stress, lack of work-life balance, lack of recognition, micromanagement, and a culture that discourages collaboration and growth.

What are 5 indicators your work culture is toxic?

Five indicators of a toxic work culture may include high turnover rates, increased absenteeism, low employee morale, lack of trust among team members and management, and frequent conflicts and disputes among employees.

What is the reason for toxic work culture?

There can be many reasons behind a toxic workplace culture, mainly poor leadership and management practices, lack of clear values and expectations, excessive workload and pressure, inadequate communication and feedback channels, unfair treatment, lack of employee empowerment, and a focus on individual success rather than team collaboration.

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