top of page
  • Writer's pictureStephanie Jackson

From Gossip to Sabotage: A Closer Look At Toxicity In The Workplace

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

A toxic workplace is where employees experience negative emotions, stress, and anxiety due to the behaviour of their toxic work colleagues or management.

Toxicity in the workplace can develop in various different forms, including bullying, harassment, discrimination, and micromanagement.

Table Of Contents

Signs Of A Toxic Workplace

Some common signs of a toxic culture at work include high turnover rates, low morale, lack of trust, and poor communication.

Employees can also experience physical symptoms, such as headaches and fatigue, due to the stress of working in a toxic environment.

People that work in toxic workplaces often feel like their opinions are not valued or respected.

They may also be subjected to unfair or unreasonable expectations like unrealistic workloads or be subjected to gossip and rumours.

In extreme cases, employees may be subjected to bullying or harassment.

It is important for employers to be aware of the signs of toxic work cultures developing and take steps to address the underlying causes and should take steps to ensure that their workplace is free from any kind of toxicity.

This could include introducing policies that promote open communication, respect, and trust between co-workers.

Employers should also ensure that employees are provided with the proper resources and support to help them cope with the stress of a toxic workplace.

Creating a safe and healthy work environment and eliminating workplace negativity is essential for the well-being of employees and the success of the business.

Common Causes Of Workplace Toxicity

Workplace toxicity can have a detrimental effect on both employees and employers.

It leads to a decrease in productivity levels whilst increasing everyone's stress levels and creates a hostile work environment, which is not good for anyone.

So let's explore the common causes of workplace toxicity and how to address them.

One of the most common causes of workplace toxicity is a lack of trust.

When employees don't trust their colleagues or leadership, it can lead to feelings of frustration and resentment.

This can manifest in a variety of ways, such as gossiping, passive aggression, and even sabotage.

Another common cause of workplace toxicity is a lack of communication. If employees don't know what's expected of them or if their ideas and concerns are not heard, it can create an environment of distrust and apathy.

To address these issues, it's important to create an atmosphere of open communication and trust.

Leaders should make sure that everyone's ideas and concerns are heard and that employees feel comfortable speaking up.

Additionally, it's important to ensure that employees are given clear expectations and that their work is valued.

The Consequences Of Ignoring Workplace Toxicity

Ignoring toxic work culture can have serious consequences for both employees and employers. For employees, it can lead to decreased job satisfaction, increased stress, and mental health problems.

This, in turn, can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and higher turnover rates.

For employers, ignoring a toxic work environment can result in decreased morale, higher costs associated with recruitment and training, and a damaged reputation.

In addition, it can lead to legal issues if employers are found to be complicit in creating or allowing a toxic work environment to develop.

Therefore, it is important for employers to address workplace toxicity before it becomes a major issue.

Effects Of Toxicity On Employees

Toxicity in the workplace can have a significant impact on employees' mental and physical health.

It can lead to burnout, anxiety, and depression, which can affect their productivity and overall well-being.

Toxicity can also damage employees' relationships with their colleagues and negatively impact their career growth which is why employers should take steps to create a healthy and supportive work environment.

This can include providing resources to employees, such as access to counselling services, implementing policies that protect employees from bullying and harassment, and encouraging open communication between employees and management.

Regularly checking in with employees to ensure they are doing okay and providing support when needed can also be beneficial.

It is also important to create work environments where employees feel comfortable speaking up about any issues they may be facing. After all, everyone loves a boss who is approachable.

Lastly, employers should be proactive in addressing any signs of toxicity in the workplace before it has a chance to grow.

Identifying Toxic Colleagues

Toxic colleagues can make work challenging and stressful. It's essential to identify toxic behaviour early on to avoid getting caught up in their negativity.

One way to identify toxic behaviour is to look for patterns of aggression, manipulation, or disregard for other people's feelings.

It's important to remember that it's not always easy to tell when someone is being toxic, as they may not always display obvious signs.

It's best to be aware of your own feelings when dealing with a colleague and to trust your intuition. If you feel uncomfortable or disrespected, it's important to speak up and address the situation.

Another way to identify toxic behaviour is to look for a lack of respect and empathy.

Toxic colleagues completely disregard how other people feel and may not take responsibility for their own actions.

It's important to remember that it's not always easy to tell when someone is being toxic, as they may not always display obvious signs.

Finally, toxic colleagues may be overly controlling or try to manipulate situations to get their own way. They may also criticize other people's work or ideas and may be overly competitive or territorial.

It's important to recognize these behaviours and not allow yourself to be taken advantage of.

Types Of Toxic Colleagues

Toxic colleagues can come in many forms, including gossips, bullies, micromanagers, and passive-aggressive coworkers.

Each type of toxic colleague has their own unique set of behaviours that can negatively impact the workplace.

For instance, the gossip may spread rumours or confidential information, while the bully may use their authority to intimidate others.

The micromanager may try to control every aspect of a project, and the passive-aggressive coworker may use sarcasm or backhanded compliments to manipulate their peers.

No matter the type of toxic colleague, it is important to recognize and address their behaviour.

Establishing boundaries and having clear expectations can help to reduce the negative impact of the toxic colleague.

It is also important to document any conflicts or issues that arise and to seek help from HR or management if needed. It is important to remember that everyone is responsible for creating a positive work environment.

By recognizing and addressing toxic behaviour, everyone can work together to create a healthier, more productive workplace.

Signs Of Toxic Behaviour

Some indicators of toxic behaviour from your colleagues can include belittling others, spreading rumours, taking credit for others' work, and refusing to take responsibility for mistakes.

They may also engage in manipulative behaviour, such as gaslighting or playing the victim.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person seeks to sow doubt in their target, making them question their own sanity and perception of reality.

Playing the victim is another common tactic used by toxic colleagues, where they will manipulate a situation to make themselves look like the victim, even when it is clear they are in the wrong.

This type of behaviour is very damaging to a person's mental health and can cause them to doubt themselves and their own decisions while also creating a hostile environment and can make it difficult for others to do their job.

How To Deal With Toxic Colleagues

Dealing with toxic colleagues can be a challenging and draining experience, but there are strategies that can help maintain your sanity and protect your well-being in the workplace.

First and foremost, it's crucial to establish healthy boundaries. Toxic individuals often thrive on drama and negativity, so setting clear limits on what you will tolerate can prevent them from infiltrating your peace of mind.

Another effective approach is to focus on self-care. Surrounding yourself with positive influences outside of work, such as supportive friends or engaging hobbies, can counterbalance the toxicity you may encounter during office hours.

Cultivating a strong sense of self-worth is also important – remember that their behaviour is a reflection of their issues and not necessarily a reflection of your worth as an individual.

Remember to seek support when needed; don't hesitate to reach out to trusted coworkers or supervisors who might be able to offer guidance or mediation if necessary.

Above all, maintaining professionalism in the face of difficult colleagues will help reinforce your reputation as someone who rises above negativity while keeping your own mental health intact.

It's not always an easy path to traverse, but by employing these strategies consistently, you'll develop resilience and find yourself better equipped for dealing with toxic colleagues along the way.

Setting Boundaries And Prioritizing Self-Care

When it comes to setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care, dealing with toxic colleagues can really put our inner resilience to the test.

However, it’s crucial to remember that we have control over our own well-being and happiness.

Setting healthy boundaries is not a selfish act; it’s an essential way of protecting ourselves from negativity and maintaining our mental and emotional health.

Firstly, it’s important to recognize that we cannot change the behaviour of others; we can only change how we respond to them.

By setting clear boundaries in our professional relationships, we can establish what is acceptable treatment and what is not.

This may involve speaking up when necessary or even limiting interactions with toxic colleagues whenever possible. Taking these steps empowers us to focus on our own growth and fulfilment rather than being consumed by negative energy.

Secondly, self-care should never be compromised for the sake of work or pleasing others. Prioritizing activities that nourish our mind, body, and soul is essential for maintaining overall well-being in the face of toxicity at work.

Whether it's engaging in a hobby or spending quality time with loved ones, carving out time for ourselves allows us to recharge and approach each day with renewed energy.

By making self-care a non-negotiable priority, we empower ourselves to thrive both personally and professionally despite any challenges thrown our way.

Remember: your well-being matters above all else.

Strategies For Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries is essential when dealing with toxic colleagues. One effective strategy is to clearly communicate your expectations and limitations.

Let them know what behaviour is unacceptable and how it affects you personally or professionally. By setting these boundaries, you assert your worth and create a safe space for yourself.

Another key strategy is learning to say no. Toxic colleagues tend to push limits and take advantage of those who are easily swayed or accommodating.

By confidently saying no to requests that go against your principles or workload, you reclaim control over your time and energy. It's important to remember that saying no doesn't make you selfish; it simply demonstrates self-respect.

Lastly, create a support network outside of the toxic workplace environment. Surround yourself with positive individuals who uplift and encourage you, and seek advice from trustworthy friends or mentors who can provide fresh perspectives on dealing with toxicity in the workplace.

Seeking Support And Resources

Dealing with toxic colleagues can be incredibly draining and demoralizing. It's important to remember that you don't have to face this challenge alone.

Seeking support and resources is crucial in navigating these difficult situations.

Whether it's venting to a trusted friend or talking to a mentor, finding someone who can offer an empathetic ear and objective advice can make all the difference.

Additionally, seeking professional resources such as workplace mediation services or human resources can help address the toxicity more directly.

These organizations are equipped with trained professionals who specialize in conflict resolution and can guide you through the process of addressing the issue at hand.

Don't underestimate the power of gathering information from books, online articles, or workshops on dealing with difficult personalities either.

Learning effective strategies for setting boundaries, assertiveness, and self-care techniques can empower you to manage toxic colleagues without sacrificing your mental well-being.

Remember that seeking support doesn't mean you're weak or incapable of handling things independently; it means you're smart enough to know when reaching out is necessary for your own growth and happiness.

By actively working towards finding adequate support systems for dealing with toxic colleagues, you'll develop resilience and emotional intelligence that will benefit not just your current situation but also future encounters throughout your professional journey.

How To Address Toxicity With Management

Addressing toxicity with management can be challenging, but it's essential for creating a healthy work environment. Companies should strive to create a culture of respect and understanding and do their best to eliminate workplace toxicity.

One crucial step in addressing toxicity is establishing clear policies and guidelines that explicitly define acceptable behaviour and consequences for toxic actions.

These policies should be communicated to all employees, ensuring everyone understands what is expected of them in the workplace.

Managers play a pivotal role in addressing toxicity within their teams. They must actively listen to employees' concerns and take appropriate action when toxic behaviours are reported or observed.

This can involve conducting thorough investigations, providing support to those affected, and taking disciplinary measures against the perpetrators if necessary.

When To Involve Management

In a toxic workplace where negativity seems to permeate the air, knowing when to involve management can be an essential step towards finding a resolution.

Often, employees may hesitate to involve their superiors for fear of retaliation or exacerbating the situation. However, it is crucial to recognize that management has a responsibility to address and mitigate any toxicity within the organization.

One key indicator that involving management is necessary is when attempts at resolving conflicts autonomously have been met with resistance or simply proven ineffective.

When communication breakdowns persist, and tensions escalate despite your best efforts, it may be time to reach out for help from higher-ups who have more power and authority in implementing change.

Furthermore, involving management becomes imperative when toxic behaviour starts impacting employee morale and performance levels within the team.

Toxicity can spread like wildfire and have detrimental effects on productivity, collaboration, and overall satisfaction in the workplace.

By informing management about these repercussions, you not only protect your own well-being but also advocate for a healthier work environment for everyone involved.

Remember that involving management should not be seen as a weakness or admitting defeat; rather, it signifies your commitment to creating a positive workplace culture where individuals feel valued and respected.

It's essential to approach the conversation with honesty and present tangible evidence of toxic behaviours in order to best convey the severity of the issue.

Together with management's support, you can contribute towards fostering an atmosphere conducive to growth and success while tackling toxicity head-on.

Moving On From A Toxic Workplace

Moving on from a toxic workplace can be challenging, but it is necessary for our well-being and personal growth. It is human nature to cling onto what is familiar, even if it’s detrimental to our mental health.

However, staying in a toxic environment will only stifle our potential and hinder our progress towards a healthier work-life balance.

One fresh perspective to consider when moving on from a toxic workplace is the idea that we deserve better.

Despite the negative experiences we may have endured, it’s important to remember that we are valuable individuals with unique skills and talents.

By acknowledging this self-worth, we can begin to cultivate a mindset that empowers us to seek out opportunities where we are respected and supported.

Another perspective worth exploring is the power of forgiveness. Holding onto grudges or resentment towards those who contributed to toxicity in the workplace will only weigh us down.

Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting or condoning behaviour; rather, it allows us to liberate ourselves from the emotional burden caused by these negative experiences.

By forgiving others and letting go of past grievances, we create space for healing and growth as we move forward.

In conclusion, moving on from a toxic workplace requires strength and resilience. It demands embracing new perspectives, such as recognizing our own worthiness and practicing forgiveness.

The journey towards finding a healthier work environment may seem daunting at first, but by prioritizing our well-being and taking proactive steps towards change, we can create opportunities for personal growth and find fulfilment in future endeavours.

Signs It's Time To Move On

Sometimes, we find ourselves stuck in toxic environments without even realizing it. The signs may be subtle at first, but they eventually become impossible to ignore.

One surefire sign that it's time to move on is when the workplace starts affecting your mental and emotional well-being.

If you constantly feel drained, stressed, or anxious as a result of your job, it's a clear indicator that something needs to change. Remember, your mental health should always take precedence over anything else.

Another significant sign is when you have lost all passion and motivation for what you do. When work becomes nothing more than a monotonous routine that no longer brings you any joy or satisfaction, it's a sign that you've outgrown the role or the organization itself.

It's crucial to constantly reassess whether your current job aligns with your long-term goals and personal aspirations.

If not, don't hesitate to explore new opportunities that excite and inspire you.

Toxicity in the workplace can hinder your growth both professionally and personally.

Our mental health should never be compromised for the sake of staying in a toxic environment.

Additionally, if we lose passion and motivation for our work, it becomes challenging to give our best effort daily.

Recognizing these signs will empower us to make decisions that prioritize our well-being and seek out environments where we can thrive instead of merely survive.

How To Prepare For A Job Search

Searching for a new job can be both exciting and daunting. It's important to approach the process with the right mindset, especially if you're looking to escape a toxic work environment.

One crucial step is taking stock of your skills, experiences, and accomplishments. Reflect on what you enjoy doing and what brings you fulfillment in order to identify potential roles that align with your values.

Another vital aspect of preparing for a successful job search is networking. Reach out to former colleagues, classmates, or industry professionals who can provide insights into different companies or even recommend you for positions.

Building meaningful connections within your desired field can open doors and present opportunities that may not be advertised publicly.

It's also essential to educate yourself about prospective employers. Research their company culture, key projects they are involved in, and their overall reputation within the industry.

This knowledge will not only help you tailor your resume and cover letter but also determine if it's an environment where you would thrive professionally.

Remember that finding the right job takes time and effort. Don't rush through the process; take the time to evaluate each opportunity carefully before making any decisions.

By being prepared at every stage of your job search journey, you'll increase your chances of finding a fulfilling role where toxicity is minimized or nonexistent – allowing you to truly thrive in your career.

Be sure to check out our full article on job interview tips.

Tips For A Successful Transition

1. Embrace the Learning Curve.

Starting a new job often means facing a steep learning curve. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, embrace this as an opportunity for growth.

Be proactive in seeking out resources and training opportunities that can help you quickly get up to speed in your new role. Remember, every successful professional has had to navigate a learning curve at some point in their career, so don't be afraid to ask questions and seek guidance from more experienced colleagues.

2. Build Strong Relationships

Building relationships with your new team members is crucial for a successful transition into a new job.

Take the initiative to introduce yourself and get to know your colleagues both personally and professionally.

Engage in company-wide activities or join internal groups related to your interests or industry-specific topics of discussion. Cultivating these relationships will not only provide you with valuable support but also help you assimilate into the company's culture more smoothly.

3. Set Clear Goals

Setting clear goals is vital when starting a new job. Take time to understand what is expected of you in terms of performance objectives and responsibilities, then break them down into actionable steps that can guide your progress on a daily basis.

This will not only help you stay focused but also give you milestones by which you can measure your success along the way.


In conclusion, toxicity in the workplace is a pervasive issue that can have detrimental effects on employees and organizations as a whole.

It creates an unhealthy work environment where creativity, productivity, and collaboration suffer.

Moreover, toxic behaviour can lead to increased stress levels, burnout, and even mental health problems for those affected.

To address this issue, it is crucial for employers to prioritize fostering a positive and inclusive work environment and a culture that values respect, empathy, and open communication.

By actively promoting healthy relationships among team members and holding individuals accountable for their actions, we can create workplaces that nurture employee well-being, boost morale, and ultimately drive success.

Together, let us strive to eradicate toxicity from our workplaces and build environments where everyone can thrive both personally and professionally.

Thanks for reading. If you're looking for a new role or you're a company that needs either temporary staff or permanent staff, head over to and fill in the contact form or give us a call at 02082451192 and we will be happy to help.



Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page