For someone who is working in a toxic workplace, they may not even realize it because it’s something they deal with on an everyday basis and have become accustomed to. It’s only when they leave that they realize the horse poop they’ve had to deal with. I’m not just talking about having to stay at work an extra hour or two a few days a week or coming in to work on a Saturday once every 6 months. I’m talking about company tactics that make you want to find an employment lawyer and find out what your options are.
Full disclosure, I am not an employment lawyer and I’m not pretending to be, so you won’t be getting any advice on when you should be taking legal action. There are plenty of places on Google that you can find that information. What I’m going to get into are some signs that you may be at a toxic workplace. Some of these signs may be obvious, and others may not be.
#1 High Turnover Rate
If you work in a department where it feels like there’s a revolving door, that could be a sign of some trouble. Now, there are some places where a high turnover is expected. Lower, minimum wage jobs like the fast-food industry, or car sales are notorious for having high rates of turnover, so this alone doesn’t make it a toxic workplace. Although if you go car shopping like I do, it’s easy to make car buying toxic.
But anyway, in today’s world, it’s understood that employees aren’t going to stay at their job for 40 years like the old days when you would work at a factory for 50 years doing the same thing every day just happy to have a couple dollars to bring home each day, retire, and then die. People are much more likely to move around to different jobs after a few years taking on new opportunities. Ideally though, companies like to keep employees from leaving so they encourage internal movement.
The problem lies when it’s a revolving door and co-workers are leaving after a few months to take jobs at a different company, even if the opportunities are for less pay and downward movement.
Pro Tip: Before accepting a job, look at some of the employees on LinkedIn and see how long they’ve been there.
#2: The Company Makes It Clear They Don’t Care About You
This one may not be as easy as watching the people you work with come and go. It may be a little more subtle. There are a few things you should notice when you start working for a company.
-Are they family oriented?
-Do they want to know about you, what your interests are, and what makes you happy?
-Are they flexible?
If you’re someone who puts your family first, and the company you work for expects you to put in long hours regardless of what your family situation is, you may want to rethink your employment. I’m not saying because you have a kid you should be treated like royalty, but if you’re someone who is dedicated to the company and is asking to leave a little early for your child’s baseball game, your manager shouldn’t act like you’re asking for a lung donation.
Again, I get it, most companies care most about the bottom line, which is obviously important, but the best way to be profitable, is to have employees who actually feel cared about because then….here’s a hint business owners….the employees will actually want to work harder.
#3 Asking for Time Off Is More Difficult Than It Needs to Be
One of the positives of working for a company rather than being your own boss is that you get time off. The problem with a lot of companies is that it’s hard to use that time off. It can be understandable that an employer wants you to coordinate your time off with other employees who are in your department sharing your workload. The trouble comes when they irrationally don’t let you use your days off.
There are probably some legalities when it comes to using sick days so I’m not going to get too deep into that, but most non-toxic workplaces are more than happy to give you off when you need it. Some even don’t require you to ask for permission unless it’s more than a certain number of days in a row. If you feel as though you’re asking for your manager’s first-born child every time you are asking for some time off, this may be more than just a normal workplace problem.
#4 Being Asked to Do Things Outside of Your Job Description
Now, there’s a difference between doing something if you’re being forced to do it or because you want to. Giving your boss a ride home because you were at a baseball game and you actually want to give them a ride home is one thing, but giving your boss a ride home or else you’ll be fired is a different story.
There are times when you may do something that’s out of your job description because you are trying to get promoted and that is also a different story. In that case, you are willingly taking on new projects to improve your position at the company. But, if you’re manager suddenly decides they want you to work a different shifts than what you agreed to work when you started with the company, you may have a problem on your hands.
There are many other signs that you may be working in a toxic workplace, but these are some of the biggest. Of course, if you are being verbally or even worse physically harassed, you should probably seek some sort of counsel. Other more subtle forms of toxicity like secret groups or bullying may be more difficult to spot out.
If you feel as though any of these may apply to you, your best course of action is always to start looking for other places of employment.