Do You Have a Toxic Work Culture?

Joe Weinlick
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When you chose your career path, you probably always thought you would work in a great atmosphere where everyone enjoys their jobs and acts professionally. Sadly, this isn't the case. How do you tell a toxic work culture from a place that's just challenging? Discover eight warning signs that a company might a toxic place for employees.

1. Deceptive Job Posting

Your first sign of a potentially toxic work culture is a deceptive job posting. If the posting reads "entry level" yet appears to place too many responsibilities on the worker for a first-tier job, then the company may be trying to hire professional-quality workers at a bargain salary.

2. High Turnover

When you investigate the position, ask how many people held the job in the past five years. If the answer is abnormally high, you should start to wonder about the high turnover rate and why people are leaving. Do a bit more digging to find out how many other people are new to their positions, and check websites like Glassdoor to find out if a toxic work culture is driving people out the door.

3. Vague Answers

When you ask the hiring manager, HR representative or executives about the company's culture during the job interview, do they all give you vague answers without getting to the point? If so, they probably just don't know how to define the office culture. This is a red flag. Organizational leaders should be excited to discuss the company's culture and how the culture can positively shape your career.

4. Unhappy People

On interview day, pay attention to the workforce. Are the people happy, and do they appear to enjoy their jobs? Or, do they seem quiet and disinterested in their work? Judge the toxic work culture for yourself by gauging the current employees' attitudes.

5. Lack of Transparency

You should be concerned if you ask your interviewers how your role benefits the organization and can't get a clear answer. This indicates there is a lack of solid internal structure or a less-than-ideal business model. Both can definitely lead to a toxic workplace culture.

6. No Team

During a job interview, candidates generally meet potential teammates and future bosses. If those people are absent, that's not a good sign. Solid teams generally include workers who want to meet and greet the potential hire. Since they may have to work with him at some point in the future, they likely want to share their opinion of the candidate with the hiring manager.

7. Bad Customer Reviews

Read customer reviews. If the majority of customers have had poor experiences with the company, the company might have a toxic work culture. It's normal to have a few poor reviews from dissatisfied customers, but if most of the customers have issues with the organization or dislike interacting with its workers, that's a red flag.

8. Gut Feeling

In the end, you should trust your gut instinct when it comes to the company culture. If it feels toxic to you, don't accept a job.

A toxic work culture is something you shouldn't have to deal with in your professional life. Watch out for these warning signs before you sign on the dotted line to avoid the high stress of a bad workplace.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at


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