3 Categories of Toxic Workplaces

Finding the right job is hard. Finding a job that legitimately meets an individual’s goals and necessities is even harder. Although a job may align well with an employee’s growth potential, salary requests, and schedule requirements, other factors may not add up to equal the perfect career. Relationships with coworkers and upper management have a huge impact on employee happiness, as well as roles and responsibilities of a position. One factor is for certain, we must work to make a living whether the job is perfect or less than ideal.

Personally, I have found myself in the same position as numerous other people. There are car payments to make, student loan debt to pay off, and 401k savings to be made. We need our jobs to make money, but sometimes we find ourselves in a toxic work environment. Even if the job isn’t unbearable, this doesn’t necessarily mean the environment isn’t toxic to an employee’s morale. I have outlined the below scenarios to categorize three major work environments that I unfortunately have been a part of.

1.) Great coworkers, good overall job, zero growth potential

Great coworkers surround this type of work environment. Each person works hard towards a common goal, therefore making the actual job and its responsibilities meaningful. The only issue with great work being done by a great team is a lack of growth potential within the company. Besides the typical desire for financial incentives or advancement opportunities, employees need resources in place for professional development. When an employee is efficiently meeting expectations and accepting constructive feedback from supervisors, but isn’t receiving opportunities to further their career, turnover in this workplace is inevitable.

2.) Great job, sufficient roles/responsibility, horrible boss/management

This workplace challenges the employee. Roles are effectively specified and the work load meets expectations, but the supervisor or upper management is difficult. Negative bosses have a huge impact on employee productivity and morale. Common characteristics of negative supervisors include:

– Erratic behavior: They will praise an employee, yet suddenly change moods and begin putting the employee down or making irrational accusations about their work.

– Takes Responsibility for The Good, Never the Bad: They will always find a way to blame the employee for a mistake or inconvenience, even if the employee was given insufficient information directly from the boss. Anytime there is a job well done though, they will be the first to reap the benefits.

– No Support: They will not offer support or flexibility to the employee. A negative boss is either unavailable for assistance or information, or feel they are above offering help to an employee.

– Inappropriate Comments or Non-Constructive Criticism: They will make comments that are inappropriate for the workplace or attack the employee directly. They do not provide constructive feedback to help an employee grow, instead attack the employee with destructive comments or condescending questions.

3.) Good overall job, basic roles/responsibility, zero self-worth

This workplace provides uncomplicated tasks for the employee. Their roles and responsibilities are outlined and usually will never change. This can be positive or negative for an employee depending on their personal goals for growth within the organization. Typically, this job is satisfying, but unfulfilling with a fair mixture of diligent and lousy workers. With this type of environment, the employee’s self-worth can be skewed. They do not feel valued as they should since the job is monotonous and rarely offers opportunities for advancement.

Whether an individual’s work environment is outwardly affecting their mental health, or just isn’t where they plan to spend the duration of their life, being in a toxic workplace isn’t ideal. No matter the category, an employee should leave a negative workplace and always strive for an employer that aligns with their professional goals and personal needs.

One thought on “3 Categories of Toxic Workplaces

  1. In my experience #2 is the most common scenario. Part of the reason is because people are promoted to manage/supervise/direct others for the sole reason that they were really good at their job. So now they are in charge of the people who are doing the work that they once did. However, no one ever trained them to be a leader, good manager, or whatever you want to call it. The result is typically a micromanager that only cares about getting the work done quickly and correctly. The manager loses sight of taking care of the people in their charge, offering minimal mentoring and contribution to growing and developing their staff.


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