Signs that a company’s culture is toxic

2020/03/04 10:29:33 PM Author | Jennilee Peremore-Oliver

There are many signs that a company's culture is toxic and some of the most common ways we notice it is through the actions or lack thereof of the employees.

In this blog post, I discuss the signs that employees display when a workplace culture is toxic.

1. Employees clock in and out on time

When the hardest working and passionate employees are clocking in and out on the contractually stipulated time, not even a minute earlier or later, then chances are the workplace culture is toxic. Passionate employees can’t hide their passion; they beam with it. They will stay later to get that idea they’ve had on mind, on paper, and will only be satisfied once it’s done. They start their morning energised and can’t wait to tell a client about a proposal they have for them. They get an early start so that they can put their pitch on email and plan their day before it officially starts. If a workplace is toxic, no one wants to be there. They work for the paycheck, and they go home.

2. Employees are not brand ambassadors

If employees hardly post about work news, accomplishments, or outings on their social media platforms, and don’t talk about the brand they work for with family and friends, then chances are the workplace is toxic. A job takes up a lot of your time; it becomes an extension of who you are as a person. If people don’t share details about the brand on social media and they don’t want to talk about it with the people closest to them, then its highly likely that the company drains their energy and stirs up negative emotions.

3. Employees have no desire to wear company branding

Employees who are passionate about the brand they represent regularly flaunt the company’s brand, wearing branded clothing or other collateral of the company. In a toxic work culture, employees want to forget about the company as much as possible and want no reminders. They don’t feel proud of what the brand represents and perhaps don’t think that their values align with the brand.

4. Employees are on the lookout for new jobs

Recruitment agencies, close family and friends will probably be aware, and competing companies, but it won’t be public knowledge. If someone is searching for a new job, especially if they haven’t worked long for a company very long, then it is a clear sign that the workplace culture is toxic.

5. The employees are passionate, but management is bureaucratic 

Usually, the management team would be the visionaries of the company. However, if the employees are more passionate, dedicated and determined than the management team, then it’s a clear sign of a toxic culture. In a truly healthy corporate culture, there is a balance; there are equally passionate employees and managers. In a corporate culture where there is true harmony, the management team leads the way; they set the standards. If employees are the only ones setting the standard for excellence and collaboration, then there a deep-rooted issue in that company. 


A company’s leadership or lack thereof is at the heart of a toxic corporate culture. The leader makes the hard decisions, whether it be fair or unfair. A leader tells a story by what he/she tolerates and what they don’t tolerate. Although leaders think that a toxic culture is only visible to them, it is clearly visible to their external audience, especially to those with a keen eye or who specialise in the field of corporate communication. There are company leaders who base their decision on whether to do business with a company based on how the leaders treat their employees. What are some of the signs you have identified of a toxic work culture? Please comment below.