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Is your workplace toxic? Answer these 5 questions to find out

Finger-pointing and blaming is a surefire sign your workplace environment isn't the healthiest. (Source: Getty)

The hours are long, the team is understaffed, too much is expected from you, and to top it all off, everyone’s talking behind each other’s backs.

They’re all the obvious indicators of a bad workplace culture – but there are more subtle indicators that might fly under the radar.

According to US-based workplace engagement expert Scott Mautz, it’s crucial to know how to spot the “worst aspects of culture”; the ones that will – or should – make you want to quit, he wrote in Inc.

According to Mautz, these are the five questions to ask yourself to know if you’re in a toxic work culture:

1. Do you question your value all the time?

Did you answer yes? Your workplace is toxic.

You might feel as though your work has no meaning, either to you personally or to the company’s goals.

Or, maybe a co-worker or your supervisor is always taking credit for your work?

It’s too easy to let it fall under the radar and brush it off as ‘work is just work’. But your work should give you a sense of accomplishment and make you feel both valued and valuable, said Mautz.

“Anything less and it's time to move on. Period. Your work life (and your life in general) is too short,” he said.

2. Do you feel like you’re receiving support with your career development?

If that’s a no, the workplace environment isn’t good for your growth.

No matter where you are, your workplace should be a place of professional development and opportunities to stretch yourself and take on more responsibility.

Nor should you feel the need to get airtime in meetings or toot your own horn to move ahead in your career.

“A communal approach to career development means you work in a community, not a cold corporation,” Mautz said.

3. Are individuals and accountable for themselves?

If you answered no to this, have a think about whether there’s a future for you in that company.

Having no accountability in a team makes it a nightmare to work in: no one wants to assume responsibility, fingers are pointed, under-performers keep underperforming, and toxic outbursts go unaddressed, said Mautz.

4. Are you really encouraged to speak your mind?

You’ll know the answer to this one pretty intuitively: if it’s a no, your workplace has an unhealthy culture where staff aren’t heard.

A good workplace culture is only worth its salt when their actions back up their words.

Are you hearing words that encourage you to speak up, yet get shot down when you do?

This ends up creating a culture that ends up discouraging workers more than if the leader had never said anything to begin with.

How can you and other co-workers feel like a valuable part of the team if they’re verbally encouraged to speak up, but are being dismissed again and again?

5. Is there transparency, or is information hold close to the chest?

If the answer to this is yes, think about how long you’ll be happy at a toxic workplace that doesn’t value or trust you.

Do you know the ‘why’ of the work you’re doing? This can come in the form of company visions or strategic plans, the challenges ahead, or even internal culture survey results.

What ends up happening is that employees feel out of the loop, they don’t give it their best effort, and they feel undervalued and under-trusted, Mautz pointed out.

“Many variations with one common thread: Sharing the information would be incredibly enabling and just takes effort – effort leaders aren't willing to invest.”

Consider how you answered these questions – and whether it might be time to start the hunt for a new workplace.

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