5 Signs your Workplace is Unhealthy

4 minute read

Do you get the Sunday night dread? Have you had a sense for some time now that your job isn’t right for you? Perhaps you’ve been wanting to move, but have held onto your job throughout the pandemic, fearful that there aren’t many jobs out there. The good news is that the job market in the UK is currently in a stronger position than it has been for the past 18 months. This means that if you do choose to search for something new, you’re likely to find many appealing positions.  

But first, it’s time to figure out what exactly is making you unhappy, and whether it’s worth addressing these changes internally, or whether it simply is time to quit. Here are some common signs that your workplace is unhealthy.

1. Poor leadership 

Bad leadership can seep into every crevice of a charity’s work, leading to a lack of trust and demotivated employees. The trouble is that it isn’t always immediately obvious as bad bosses wear a variety of hats. Some are disorganised and chaotic, jumping from one decision to another, seemingly without any attention to strategy. Others are micromanagers who don’t seem to trust any of the team to do autonomous work. Others still might have no respect for employees’ wellbeing, piling on the pressure with unrealistic work demands.  

If you’re experiencing poor leadership in your organisation, a lot depends on where in the hierarchy this person stands. If they’re your direct line manager, it’s always worth speaking to them to explain how you feel. You might find that they react to constructive feedback and that things begin to shift. If the poor leadership is higher up the organisation, it’s still always worth feeding back to your manager on the impact it’s having on you and your team. It might be that they’re unable to do anything about it, in which case it sounds like it’s time for you to move on. But be sure to explain why you’re leaving during your exit interview.

quitting job in post-pandemic times

2. Bad communication 

Strong communication skills are vital to the workings of any good organisation. When it breaks down, it can have a highly negative impact on culture. There are so many different elements that come under the communication umbrella, including active listening, in-person communication, use of internal messaging systems, remote conferencing and much more. Here are some examples of when poor communication can lead to an unhealthy culture:  

  • Passive-aggressive communication. This is also often associated with a culture of blame in the workplace. 
  • Communication out-of-hours. In a world of increased remote work, it’s important to strengthen the separation between home life and work.  
  • Chaotic communication. A lack of clarity about campaigns or projects leads to demotivation.  
  • Mixed messages. If various team members receive different messages about a projects, it can lead to confusion and lack of trust.  

If you observe any of the above in your organisation, it’s always worth feeding back. Try not to point fingers, but instead use team meetings to suggest new, better ways of communicating. And if you receive communication out of hours, don’t feel that you need to respond.  

3. Office politics 

In a study by PayScale into the reasons why people leave their jobs, 58% cited ‘office politics’. Office politics exist to some degree in almost every organisation. They’re used by employees to advance their personal agendas, sometimes at the expense of others. They can also lead to the formation of cliques which exclude certain individuals, and lead to alienation.  

Gossiping, cliques and underhand behaviour in the workplace which is deliberately designed to exclude employees, or to make them feel inferior, are all true signs of a toxic culture.  

It might well be the case that your manager is unaware of the office politics, so be sure that you bring this to their attention. Share any strategies that you feel might improve the situation. If, after a month or so, you still find that nothing has change, it might be time to leave.  

4. Lack of opportunity for growth 

If your organisation isn’t offering you any training opportunities, mentorship or other ways to develop your skills, they’re not investing in you as an employee. A lack of focus on growth can easily lead to low morale and lowered retention rates. If you’re passionate about the work that your charity does, but feel that you’re not being developed, speak to your line manager. Research the courses that you would like to attend and prompt discussion about how you see your role developing. If they ignore your suggestions, you should revaluate about whether the charity is right for you long term.  

5. No work-life balance 

We’ve already touched on this in some of the above points, but it’s a key factor when it comes to unhealthy workplaces. Being overworked leads to burnout, poor sleep and ultimately bad mental health. If your line manager or colleagues are messaging you out of hours, or your workload is building, be sure to speak up as soon as possible. Likewise, flag up when you feel that extra resources are needed on a project.  

bullying in the workplace

Go with your gut feeling 

When it comes to signs of an unhealthy workplace, go with what your instinct tells you about whether it’s time to go. If you’re passionate about your organisation’s cause, but you feel that there are certain elements of its culture that are letting it down, work hard to change it by speaking to the leadership team and making suggestions. If you feel that you’re not being listened to, or the negative practices are too ingrained for you to make a difference, it’s time to seek a new challenge 

Ewa Jozefkowicz

CharityJob's Content Manager Ewa Jozefkowicz has a passion for all things digital, particularly when it comes to UX and writing engaging copy. In her spare time she likes to travel and devour huge quantities of books.

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