Spotting red flags that point to a toxic workplace

Besides being able to identify signs of toxicity, young professionals should also participate in open conversations to strengthen their career paths.
By: | July 11, 2023

In today’s work culture, it has become the norm for young professionals to spend at least a year in their first jobs before considering a transition. However, it is crucial to recognise early warning signs and evaluate whether a workplace may be toxic, Tessa White, Author and ‘Job Doctor’, said in an interview with CNBC Make It.

White advised young professionals to pay attention to warning signs that may emerge during the interview process. For instance, inquiring about the number of internal promotions within a department serves as an indicator of the organisation’s commitment to training and development, she suggested. “If they cannot identify successful people who internally have moved up within the organisation, I would say that’s a big warning sign.”

Poor leadership is another red flag. White pointed out the importance of compassionate leadership, where employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns to their managers. Inconsistent expectations and frequent shifts in priorities from organisation CEOs make it difficult for employees to execute their tasks effectively, leading to a culture of scapegoating.

To address red flags, White recommended having an open conversation with managers before deciding to leave. “Gen Z and millennials characteristically will leave an organisation before they speak up. They’ll say ‘I shouldn’t have to write the script for my organisation. They know whether they’re treating me well or not,’” she said. “If you don’t speak up, you have no opportunity to fix it.”

READ MORE: Recognising signs of a toxic work culture

If leaving becomes the best option, White suggested gathering short recommendations from colleagues and properly preparing for the job transition.

“Speed is the energy when you are leaving. Laying the groundwork for the next opportunity is so critically important,” she concluded. “Just like dating, we tend to leave what we call a toxic relationship and jump right into another one. We find we’ve recreated the same thing unless we slow it down a little bit.”