Physical signs of a toxic work environment

Dave Wood

The physical signs of a toxic work environment can affect our behaviour, present symptoms that affect the way we work. In my previous post, I spoke about communication and language in a toxic workplace, which will start presenting physical signs.

Toxic work environment and our health.

A toxic workplace will have a negative impact on our health, presenting itself in physical symptoms. Our body is adept at telling us we are in danger and we will reject the environment that causes us harm. Ignoring this message, our body will start presenting symptoms causing a negative action when entering that environment.

The symptoms could include any of the following:

  • Not sleeping.
  • Emotional breakdowns.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Feeling unsafe.
  • Loss of motivation.
  • Headaches.
  • Anxiety.
  • Change in behaviour.
  • Increased sickness.
  • Lack of enthusiasm.

Our bodies will increase symptoms to avoid environments that are unhealthy. If the answers to these questions raise a red flag, it might be time to assess your work environment. 

Signs of a toxic work environment.

A toxic work environment very rarely affects just one person in a workplace, however, the environment that is created will often result in a lack of communication, isolating employees to feel like they are being targeted. 

Here are some signs of a toxic work environment:

Narcissistic Leadership: Senior staff demand that you always agree with them, tell them they’re right, and will tell you your ideas are wrong or disagree with them with no reason. They may also take credit for your work or ideas. They expect everyone else to be perfect while they can meet lower standards.

Employee Sickness: Toxic work environments impact our health and often show in high staff sickness, from being overworked, tired or stress. If people are calling in sick on a regular basis or worse, that employees are working sick, this is a clear sign of a toxic work environment.

Enthusiasm and Communication: A good workplace will have plenty of enthusiasm and communication, people should be happy, with talking among colleagues. Do people look happy? Smiling? Are people talking? If no then this is probably a toxic environment, this is often present when a toxic person enters the room.

High Turnover:  If a company has a high turnover, it usually shows that people don’t want to be there or the company is only interested in results and do not value their employees. This will depend on the size of the team and length on time, but if 30% of your team leave within months of each other. This is a sign of a toxic work environment.


A toxic work environment will have many signs, it is about trusting your body. Do you want to be there? I often hear people add to this question without actually answering the question. 

Do you want to be there?

  • “The team is great through, and I couldn’t leave them.”
  • ” The company has done so much for me.”
  • “Things will get better, we have a lot on at the moment.”

The truth is, people know the answer to the question but it can be scary to answer it. Try asking a friend the same question, if they are in a healthy environment, the answer is very clear.

I will add another part of what to do in a toxic workplace? can a toxic workplace be changed? Here is a link to my previous post. Please ask questions in the comments and check out more great blogs on MyNeedToLive


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