| 27 June, 2021 | 7 Min Read

Watch out for 10 toxic culture red flags at your company

Toxic company culture can make employees feel drained and unaccomplished. Being able to identify a negative work environment is essential for your employees' mental well-being. In this article, we will be showing you the red flags of a toxic company that threatens your company productivity.

Employees are the backbone of a company, and their satisfaction and motivation directly impact the company's growth. Ensuring a positive work environment is crucial, as maltreatment and discrimination can lead to a decrease in productivity and overall morale. Here is where free HR solutions come into play, providing tools and resources to manage and enhance employee engagement and satisfaction.

While the attitude of some employees at work is a huge contributor to toxic company culture, such negativity can only thrive if the organizational culture is already unstable.

Some signs cannot go unnoticed.

Whether you’re in a position to make changes or you’re an employee suffering from bad culture. These signs help you understand that how you feel isn’t just in your head.

What does toxic company culture mean?

Toxic company culture tears you down mentally and physically. Where there is an excessive amount of discrimination, fights, gossiping, and the feeling of superiority. Company culture is also toxic when there is no feeling of psychological safety and no room for self-development; all employees do is give and not receive.

One way to identify a toxic work environment is by measuring company culture using no-cost performance review software. This software helps gather feedback and insights about the workplace environment, helping leaders make informed decisions. However, certain warning signs are difficult to overlook. They help determine the level of toxicity at your workplace. Here are 10 of them:

10 signs indicating bad company culture

  1. 1
    Lack of team bonding & communication
  2. 2
    Competition over collaboration
  3. 3
    Lack of accountability
  4. 4
    Exceeding high turnover rate
  5. 5
    Absence of work-life balance
  6. 6
    Uncontrolled and vicious politics
  7. 7
  8. 8
    Extreme criticism
  9. 9
    Negative reputation and reviews
  10. 10
    Frequent lateness or absence from work

1. Lack of team bonding & communication

When the work environment at your company is toxic, employees find it difficult to have proper conversations with each other. They try as much as possible to avoid social interaction with other employees and sit at their desks all day long.

There’s usually no form of emotional attachment amongst employees. All employees want is to complete their tasks and leave the office for other activities as quickly as possible. The ambience at the company is usually not cheerful, as employees only speak when work demands they do.

2. Competition over collaboration

Competitions at companies are meant to give employees that extra push and inspiration to do more, especially when they come with rewards. However, employees in toxic work environments only compete to show who’s best. They forget that achievements are to be made collectively and only focus on their strengths. When team members begin to work independently and not co-independently, it’s a significant indicator of the toxicity at that company.

3. Lack of accountability

In an interview, Rauf and Khalid Fazillah - Founders at Palindrome Communications shared with us that:

“Constant finger-pointing, trying to blame one another whenever something goes wrong. It's a clear sign that teams are not abiding by positive and productive company values, and being overwhelmed by emotion”

Well, indeed.

In a healthy work environment, employees take responsibility for their work and see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. If that’s the opposite at your company, there’s a high chance that employees do not understand or abide by the company’s values.

However, it is notable that this may also be a result of their fear of the extreme feedback system at your company.

4. Exceeding high turnover rate

Turnover rate is one of the most visible and easiest-to-spot signs. People will quickly and silently leave a company in droves if the workplace takes a toll on them. Check numbers, measure your data, compare benchmarks and see if there is something wrong with your company culture.

5. Absence of work-life balance

No employee wants to spend all their time working. They need time for their families, friends, and a possible vacation. When there’s no work-life balance, employees begin to experience burnouts and feel more stressed out about work.

For example, at Kraft Heinz Company, employees face difficulties maintaining a work-life balance. They spend longer hours at work than usual. Some employees have also complained about receiving calls from managers outside work hours and sometimes working during the weekends. With a 3.3 star rating on Glassdoor and a D+ grade on Comparably, it is pretty evident that employees at this company are completely dissatisfied with the extra hours they have to put in with zero time for other life activities.

6. Uncontrolled and vicious politics

When all employees don’t stand equal chances to benefits and promotions, it is safe to say the organizational structure is failing. When some employees get more favors than others, it brings a division in the office. Favored employees begin to feel they hold more importance over others. This, in turn, leads to backbiting, constant bickering and breeds enmity at your company.

7. Micromanaging

Employees don’t feel comfortable when they are micromanaged. It stresses them out. When leaders begin to monitor an employee's every move, being creative becomes difficult for them. This shows that managers are control freaks and are not open-minded to thoughts and ideas that come from other employees.

8. Extreme criticism

There is constructive criticism, and there is abuse. When a company constantly shows dissatisfaction towards your work and completely tears down your effort, it is a toxic workplace. A positive work environment only practices constructive criticism, encourages, and rewards effort.

9. Negative reputation and reviews

When it comes to giving reviews about their experience at a company, employees are always truthful. They want whoever is reading to know what working in a company is like. So when a vast majority of these reviews are negative, it is enough evidence that employees are dissatisfied with the corporate culture.

When it comes to companies with bad reviews, Forever21 pretty much tops the list. Employees at this retail apparel had a lot to say about the terrible work culture there. They resent the long hours, inadequate benefits, and strict company policies. Sometime in 2012, retail employees at Forever 21 sued the company for unpaid labor and extra hours. Employees also had their bags inspected for stolen merchandise anytime they had to leave the work premises. Forever 21 has a 2.8/5 star company culture rating, which is enough proof that employees are not having a great time here.


Forever21 got  2.8/5 stars review on Culture Score due to terrible work culture


10. Frequent lateness or absence from work

Toxic company culture forces employees to take any chance they get to be absent at work. Some employees come late so that they can spend less time at work. If you notice that their lateness or absence from work is becoming a habit, they are stressed from the pressure at work and take it upon themselves to have a day off.

Eradicate toxic company culture right away

No employee wants to work at a company void of peace and stability. Luckily, the signs of toxic company culture are glaring. While changing the culture at your company might be quite a challenge, it is not impossible. By recognizing the signs of a toxic environment and utilizing efficiency-enhancing apps, companies can create a healthier, more productive work environment.

Understanding what company culture is about and its importance will guide you through making suitable adjustments. When you begin to notice the above signs, could you take it as a cue to make a change? Because only then your company can indeed be successful.

If you want to know the state of your company culture, utilize this template, send out a survey to find out!

Download free Ultimate Company Culture Survey →

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