5 signs of toxic work culture and how to deal with them

Last updated on February 26th, 2024 at 10:25 am

Culture and Productivity For Employers Tips, Tools, and Trends

5 Signs of Toxic Work Culture and How to Deal With Them

By November 23, 2022 4 min read

As an engineering leader, you don’t want the best talent in your company to leave you. Several studies show that toxic work culture is one of the major reasons behind people quitting companies. But what is a toxic work culture? What are the tell-tale signs that your company has a toxic work culture? How can you deal with a toxic work environment? Keep reading to find out. 

What is a toxic work culture? What are the tell-tale signs of toxic work culture?

A toxic work culture is where the policies and practices of management and employees create conflicts between the team members and hamper productivity. In other words, a workplace culture that provides a poor environment for people to ideate, create, grow, and thrive is a toxic work culture. Here are 5 signs that your company has a toxic work culture:

  1. Employees suffer from constant burnout

    Ask yourself these three questions.

    Are your employees often frustrated and non-productive in your company’s work environment? 

    Do they look demotivated most of the time?

    Do they wait for the clock to strike pack-o-clock without worrying about completing their tasks?

    These are signs of major burnout. And one of the biggest reasons for burnout is toxic work culture.  This leads to lower employee productivity and impacts the company’s overall performance. So, keep a close eye on your team members and see if they’re showing any signs of burnout.
  2. You have to micromanage your team

    Here’s the thing: micromanaging will never help you in the long run. Teams flourish when you give them space to work on their ideas and turn them into reality. But if you micromanage your team, you don’t provide team members with a safe environment to experiment with their ideas. The frustration caused due to micromanaging can lead to employees quitting your company.

    Related post:
    Eight Tips To Manage Remote Developers
  3. There’s a high employee turnover

    A consistently high employee turnover is yet another sign of toxic work culture in employees leaving your company. A normal turnover is understandable, people do change jobs for better growth and opportunities.

    But, if your employees are repeatedly stating the work culture to be the reason for quitting, it is high time to ponder on the question that follows: what’s wrong with the work culture of your company?

    Related post:
    DevOps Engineer Turnover: How to Prevent It?
  4. Employees are too concerned about the hierarchy

    When employees feel they don’t have a say in the team, they start feeling left out. This leads to a hunger for power. And, in a toxic environment, this power comes through job titles. Sure, it’s natural for employees to want to rise through the ranks organically. But in a toxic work culture, employees will constantly want to upgrade their position by hook or by crook to achieve a sense of pseudo power that comes with the title.
  5. No one is able to talk about toxicity openly

    Something just doesn’t feel right about the company culture. Yet, no one addresses the elephant in the room. Sounds familiar?

    Your employees are reluctant to talk about the culture because they don’t feel safe in the workplace. They may even feel they won’t be heard if they raise their voices against the toxic work environment, or worst, invite severe repercussions. 

How can you deal with a toxic work environment?

You cannot have like-minded people around you all the time. No matter how hard you try, there will be people in your team who won’t get your way of working. So, how do you ensure that you meet the expectations of your employees and maintain a healthy work environment? Here are some tips:

  1. Create a constructive criticism feedback environment

    Appreciate in public and criticize in private. And even when done in private, ensure that the criticism is constructive, encouraging the employee to do better. Your employees look up to you for feedback on their work and to improve their overall performance. And so, constructive criticism wherever relevant, can go long way and help you retain your best talent.

    Also, read 11 Ways to Motivate Remote Software Developers in 2023
  2. Don’t micromanage and avoid productivity paranoia

    Physical absence does not equal unproductivity. If you’re unable to see your team physically, it doesn’t mean that they are wasting their time doing nothing. Don’t fall prey to productivity paranoia. Have faith in your team and enable them to work independently. As discussed above, avoid micromanaging at all costs. Instead, set some clear parameters to analyze productivity. Employees like it when they have a sense of ownership of their work and know that their managers or leaders are not micromanaging every step.
  3.  Identify weak links and set norms

    Is there a weak link in the team that hampers collaboration in your team? Do some members need constant behavioral supervision? Establish a definite code of conduct and ensure that these members diligently follow it.  As a leader, it’s your responsibility to communicate the company norms clearly. Ensure that every team member knows what is expected from them. Remember, building a healthy work environment is a collective effort that begins with you. 

In summary

Being an engineering leader, you have to ensure that your team is working in a culture that promotes their growth and well-being. Ensure a work environment where your employees can share their concerns easily without the fear of being judged. Give proper credit to your employees for their work and achievements. You’ll see that even the slightest appreciation can go a long way.

Are you an engineering leader looking to hire a software development team for your company? Try Turing teams. With Turing teams, you can hire a team of pre-vetted software developers who have been vigorously vetted by Turing’s AI. To know more, head to Turing Teams’ page.

Tell us the skills you need and we'll find the best developer for you in days, not weeks.

Hire Developers

5 Signs of Toxic Work Culture and How to Fix It
Article Name
5 Signs of Toxic Work Culture and How to Fix It
Signs of toxic work culture: 1. Employees suffer from constant burnout 2. You have to micromanage your teams 3. There’s a high employee turnover. Read more…


  • Ritvik Gupta

    Ritvik is a copywriter and content writer who has worked with fast-scaling startups such as GoMechanic and Pitstop. He runs his own automotive blog as well.


Your email address will not be published