College of Business

How to recognize a toxic work environment

By Quintin Seguin | August 1, 2023

Working in a toxic environment is not only bad for the employee but also for the company. Some of the things that can make a workplace toxic are lack of cultural diversity, a corrupt culture, poor leadership, poor communication, and favoritism. 

Does your Organization Lack Cultural Diversity?

It’s important that management consists of diverse team members as this helps ensure qualified individuals from all backgrounds have a chance to work for that organization. For example, if a woman is working for a company where only men are in positions of authority, she might experience it as an extremely uncomfortable situation.

Why does this matter?

Employee diversity makes it more likely that an organization will provide for the needs of a wider range of customers—customers who feel more comfortable doing business with the company. Cultural diversity can also attract more qualified people who find the job appealing because of the diverse perspectives that different people bring to the organization.

Does Your Organization Have a Corrupt Culture?

Having a corrupt culture is another example of a toxic workplace. A boss who is leading his people for his own personal gain will lose the respect and trust of his employees.

When employees realize this, the work production level will decrease as will the quality of work. Making sure your employees feel respected and appreciated will lead to a productive work environment where employees are motivated to go above and beyond the bare minimum.

Does Your Organization Have Poor Leadership?

Leadership that micromanages its employees minimizes the creativity and personal growth the team could experience. This stunts the growth of new, potential leaders. Poor leadership will eventually negatively impact the organization.

Does Your Organization Show Favoritism?

While it’s important to make employees feel valuable, it’s just as important to treat them the same way.

When bosses show signs of favoritism, it can cause a toxic work environment for all those who are not receiving the same attention. This can lead employees to feel bitter, and it can turn the office into a toxic environment.

Does Your Organization Have Poor Communication?

As a leader, you need to be able to communicate effectively with your employees. This is to ensure everyone is on the same page so employees can have a clear understanding of what they are expected to do. When instructions are not clear, employees can lose motivation. 


 Wang, Z., Zaman, S., Rasool, S. F., Zaman, Q. U., & Amin, A. (2020). Exploring the Relationships Between a Toxic Workplace Environment, Workplace Stress, and Project Success with the Moderating Effect of Organizational Support: Empirical Evidence from Pakistan. Risk management and healthcare policy13, 1055–1067.

Nikolova, I., Caniëls, M., Schaufeli, W., & Semeijn, J. H. (2021). Disengaging Leadership Scale (DLS): Evidence of Initial Validity. International journal of environmental research and public health18(6), 2824.

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