'Work Hard, Play Hard' and Other Red Flags That SCREAM Toxic Workplace

Conflicts At Work. Asian Female Suffering From Mobbing And Bullying In Office


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Burnout businesswoman under pressure in the office

Bad Vibes Be Gone

Toxic workplaces are like haunted houses, but instead of ghosts and evil dolls, you're being haunted by passive-aggressive emails, torturous micromanagement, and constant negativity. It's the kind of place where the only thing that's contagious is the bad attitude, and the water cooler gossip is enough to make you break out in hives. Here are eight warning signs of toxic workplaces that Redditors say you should stay far, far away from. 

Related: Horror Stories From Notoriously Toxic Workplaces

Depressed black woman leader suffering from gender discrimination at work

There's a High Turnover Rate

If a workplace has a high turnover rate, it could be an indication of a toxic work environment. Employees could be jumping ship due to a slew of reasons, such as poor management, lack of growth opportunities, or an unhealthy company culture. This could lead to a negative impact on productivity and reputation, making it harder to attract and retain quality talent in the long run. 

"Due to the insanely high turnover at my first salaried job, I was considered an office 'veteran' when I quit just shy of being there for 2 years," says one Redditor. 

Related: 25 Expert Tips for a Healthy Work-Life Balance While Working from Home

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They're Stingy

Prioritizing corporate greed over employee well-being can be detrimental to a company's long-term success, especially as inflation and the cost of living continues to rise and employees need to earn more money to make ends meet. As one Redditor points out, "[My job] keeps asking employees to do more and more without giving them a raise," adding, "Our competitors pay $5 to $8 more per hour, and the turnover rate has been steadily increasing." 

Companies that treat employees poorly, fail to invest in their development, or refuse to grant them reasonable compensation can lead to low morale, high turnover, and, ultimately, a damaged reputation. In contrast, companies that prioritize their employees' welfare and foster a positive work culture tend to enjoy higher retention rates, greater productivity, and a stronger brand image in the long run.

Related: Useful and Fun Gifts for People Who Work From Home

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They Act Sketchy

Companies that discourage employees from discussing salaries with coworkers may be exhibiting signs of a toxic work culture, Redditors say. As one comment notes, "When the boss says it's illegal to discuss your wage with others," that can be a red flag. Such policies can enable wage discrimination, fuel distrust, and create a power imbalance in favor of the employer, as opposed to a workplace that promotes transparency and support to foster a stronger sense of trust between all employees. 

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They Overwork Employees

Companies that consistently assign extra work duties to existing employees instead of hiring additional staff may be another red flag. These practices can lead to burnout, decreased productivity, and a demoralized workforce. "Someone leaves, their responsibilities get piled onto someone else, and the business thinks it's working, so why hire a replacement?" says one Redditor. "Then that person eventually caves and now two jobs are piled onto the next person. By the time the company thinks they have to hire someone, nobody wants to do 3 people's work for 1 person's pay." 

Two Male Colleagues Fighting In Office

They Claim to 'Work Hard, Play Hard'

If you hear about a company's culture being comprised of "working hard, and playing hard," Redditors say you should run for the hills. What this saying really means is: "We expect you to do 10-14 hour shits and be here on the weekends. Oh, but we have a foosball table in the break room that you can use from 7:00pm - 7:15pm daily," jokes one user. "Translation: you’ll be expected to stay late on Friday night to finish a deliverable, but we’ll get Domino’s Pizza for everyone," adds another. 

Angry businesswoman shouting to a stressed employee at office.

They Claim To Be 'Like a Family'

If a potential employer tells you, "'We're like a family,' just walk out," says one Redditor, highlighting that this usually means "cliques, expectations to work long hours and put up with some REALLY shady stuff. Every. Single. Time. There are no outliers with this red flag." Another user adds, "A past employer was big on that and it felt like 'yeah, you’re going to need to drink heavily to cope with the stress and awful work-life balance.'" (Geez, this really takes the saying "family is complicated" to a whole new level.)

Shot of a young businesswoman using a digital tablet in a modern office
Jay Yuno/istockphoto

They Say Inappropriate Things

If, during any part of the interview process, you experience inappropriate or uncomfortable comments, this can be indicative of a toxic workplace. "[I don't know] if anyone else has gotten this, but a bar I used to work at after they hired me said 'We could use a good looking woman on our team,'" writes one Redditor, adding, "Anything to do with 'We could use [insert gender or race or anything else here]' generally is a red flag for me." And we completely agree. Run like the wind, pal. 

Serious attentive senior hr listening to candidate at job interview

They Make You Jump Through Hoops

A super arduous interview process that lasts several rounds could be indicative of a toxic workplace culture. Such processes may suggest a culture of elitism, exclusivity, or a desire to weed out anyone who doesn't fit the company's narrow mold. This could lead to a work environment that prioritizes perfectionism over creativity and diversity, ultimately leading to a less productive and less innovative workforce. 

"Unless you’re applying to be the CEO, there’s no reason to waste everyone’s time with such a horrible hiring process," writes one user, pointing out that "5 rounds of multi-hour interviews," is completely unnecesary.