Are you in a toxic work environment?

Toxic workplaces can be defined as any job where the work, the atmosphere, the people, or any combination of those things that cause you to feel unhappy about going to or being at work. In light of corporate wellness week, here’s a few signs of a toxic work environment.

Bad Leadership

This is when your superior or manager demands that you always agree with them, constantly corrects you, undermines your decisions, and ultimately disallows you from doing your job. Managers that gaslight, manipulate, and are not able to solve conflicts can create a toxic work environment.

Dull environment

If you, your co-workers or the office environment seems dull, where people hardly seem happy or smile, may be a sign that you are in a toxic work environment.

Lack of motivation

This is when you find yourself working hard with no positive feedback and no recognition.

Lack of team spirit and morale

Low morale includes gossiping, back-stabbing, jealous competition, colleague conflict, passive aggressive behaviours and more.

Cliques, Gossip, and Rumours

An environment that thrives on cliques, gossip or rumours is also a sign of a toxic environment.


This is when someone at your workplace creates an atmosphere that makes you feel uncomfortable – this could be because you feel offended, intimidated, or humiliated. Harassment can come in the form of age, race, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender reassignment.

How to handle a toxic work environment

It takes time to find a new job and most of the time, we cannot get up and leave our jobs, especially if we have families to support. However, there are ways to handle the dysfunction until you can step into a new job somewhere else. You can try these things below,

Look within – Being self-aware of how you behave in the workplace plays an important role in how you will experience your work environment, Choma. This can be done through understanding how you behave in the workplace, the culture of the workplace, what you say and how you approach your colleagues, how you receive/give feedback and criticism, and your overall mannerism in the workplace.

Address the issue with your superior OR Human Resources – The first step is letting your superior know how you feel. If that doesn’t work, consider reaching out to HR.

Do something after work that can help relieve stress – It’s important to unplug after work hours and do some things out of work that helps you relax. You can consider going to the gym, cooking and watching your favourite TV shows, or learning a new skill. The key is to make sure you’re living a fulfilling life outside of work.

Start your exit strategy – It’s possible that things could improve at your job, in which case it might make sense to stay. However, while waiting it out, there’s no harm in searching for better opportunities out there.

All jobs have some level of stress even on good days. However, if the thought of going to work, facing certain colleagues, or a manager makes you feel depressed, or even physically ill, that could be a sign that you are in a toxic environment.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact Ask Choma, send a Facebook message or a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).