Do You Have a Toxic Job? 7 Red Flags

Do You Have a Toxic Job? 7 Red Flags

Last update: 24 May, 2018

Do you get home and feel unable to disconnect from work? Maybe you dream about your boss or that project you need to finish? Do you feel like you can’t stop thinking about the report you have to do tomorrow? Well, maybe you need to think about if you have a toxic job.

Most people long for a day off once in awhile. This is not a red flag; it’s natural. However, almost always having negative feelings when you think about your job is indeed worrisome. What are warning signs that you’re in a toxic job?

You’re connected 24/7

Are you still checking your work email when you get home, on weekends or on days off? Allow yourself to get away from technology and enjoy the moment. Maybe because you’re too focused on your job, you’re missing out on more valuable moments.

Sometimes, we get so absorbed in our day-to-day that we don’t treat important things as important. You have to work to live, not live to work. If you are in a job that enslaves you 24 hours a day, something has to change.

Try to get rid of that dependence little by little. And tell your boss. Try turning off the phone immediately after work or not opening your email unless you are in the office. Your sleep will also improve.


Overworked woman in a toxic job at night.

A bad work environment

It’s impossible to get along with everyone, but it is possible to not get along with anyone. Of course, it’s normal to get along better with some coworkers than others. It’s also very normal for you to have someone who made trouble for you not be someone you enjoy spending time with. After all, it’s not good to be surrounded by negative, scheming, depressed or envious people.

A bad work environment can ruin even a top-level company. This is no trivial matter. It can turn into something that from the outside seems like an ideal job into a truly toxic workplace. Run away from emotional vampires!

Endless work

A heavy workload should not last for years. If you’re finishing important tasks and projects, but your list of responsibilities and tasks does not get smaller, something is wrong. Either others have added tasks onto your plate without your knowledge or you need to communicate that you need a break.

After finishing a very important report or closing a big deal you’ve been working on for months, a break should be right around the corner — at least enough for you to catch your breath and feel able to handle the pressure again. It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager or if you’re on the bottom rung. Everyone needs less stressful periods of work at times. Especially after months of high stress.

A bullying boss

Bullying bosses make sure that you know your work could be done by anybody. They openly make fun of employees. They have little interest in conversations with people under their charge. Bullies discredit you left and right, they constantly yell at you…

Yes, you have a bullying boss. Since ignoring them altogether is impossible, set emotional limits. That is, become a mirror: reflect your boss’s words and do not allow them to sink into you.



A shark and a lego man at work.

Rejection of differences

If there is discrimination based on sex, age, religion or sexual preference in your job, it is a toxic job. If the situation gets truly unbearable, it is imperative to act. Tell a superior or human resources so they can take action. Unfortunately, the situation may stay the same, or even get worse. In this case, you may want to seek help and legal advice.

Of course, if you have been asked to forge documentation, if you have witnessed or been the victim of sexual harassment or any other type of violence at work, your work is not only toxic, that behavior is criminal.

Generalized absenteeism

Of course employees have to miss work every once in awhile because of an appointment, illness, or unforeseen event. But if there is an overall high level of absenteeism among workers, this is a clear red flag that their jobs are toxic.

And we’re not just talking about being physically absent, but also mentally absent. Being physically absent means absence from your position at least 3 days each month. The second is a form of mental absenteeism, where a person present in the office, but most of the time they are doing non-work activities.



A workplace.

No job security

If you are in a company where there are no possibilities to move up and no real career path for workers, your company is probably not looking out for your job security. They are probably focusing more on their own interests. Maybe they want to increase their customer base or save money. But by doing this, they overlook their employee’s needs.

In addition, the problem is compounded when there is no department or group of people in charge of worker welfare. In this case, if you are a person with initiative and you dare to take a step forward, express your disagreement and propose a solution.

Before leaving any job, even if you suspect that it’s a toxic job, it’s a good idea to try to fix the situation. Look for solutions through dialogue and agreement. If this doesn’t work after several attempts, then you should consider changing jobs.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Hobbs, P. T. G. (1970). Motivation to Work. Journal of the Society of Dyers and Colourists.
  • Rashid, S., & Rashid, U. (2012). Work Motivation Differences between Public and Private Sector. American International Journal of Social Science. 10.1111/cge.12749
  • Daniel, T. A. (2009). Tough boss or workplace bully? HR Magazine.
  • Sverke, M., Hellgren, J., & Näswall, K. (2002). No security: A meta-analysis and review of job insecurity and its consequences. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.
  • Loi, R., Ngo, H. Y., Zhang, L., & Lau, V. P. (2011). The interaction between leader-member exchange and perceived job security in predicting employee altruism and work performance. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.