Devan Moonsamy  

One of the leading causes for stress in employees comes from working in a toxic work environment. Working in a toxic environment can create mental health issues, physical health issues as well as a lack of motivation and low self-esteem. The negativity from the toxic work environment will eventually have an impact on an employee’s personal life. 

As much as working from home might have provided an alternative to the toxic work environment, it has also made us see why it is better to be alone instead of surrounded by people that make a work environment toxic.

Company culture plays a significant role in employee wellness. If the work environment is not welcoming and hospitable, employees will eventually start feeling the negativity and this can lead to burnout. It will also lead to employees resigning or looking for jobs elsewhere. 

The bottom line is a toxic work environment should be avoided at all cost. 

If you are about to take a job offer and you are worried about the toxicity of the work place then here’s what you should look out for: 

  • Your new colleagues are quick to gossip. This should be seen as a red flag. If you have just joined a new company and your new co-workers just wait for an opportunity to have at it about another co-worker, then this is a clear sign of toxicity. This indicates that to the employees of this business drama is much more important than work. 
  • Another sign of toxicity is when on your first day or week you are not welcomed. When you are a new employee, colleagues would ideally make an effort to show you around or introduce themselves. If you find there isn’t a hospitable vibe around inducting or welcoming a new employee then the work culture there is in need of major improvement. 
  • On the same token, if a colleague has been assigned to mentor you or have you shadow them whilst you get your work space in order but they are constantly whining and trying to pawn you off to someone else – then that workplace is toxic. A healthy work environment is one in which staff are determined to guide new employees instead of leaving them to their own accord. A colleague not wanting to help you or show you how work is done could also imply that they are not proud of the work they are doing. This could also indicate that they are not pretending. They are no excited to show you around or how the workplace is because they are demotivated. 
  • If in your first week there you witness rude behaviour, it’s a sign that this is normal in this workplace. The fact is that a toxic environment is one in which people are treated disrespectfully. If the workplace does not respect both clients and staff then it is a sign to rethink the decision of joining this firm. The reality is that bad or rude behaviour can be contagious and after a while being in this environment will have a negative impact on your mental health. It’s even more of a concern when managers don’t intervene. 
  • A sign to get out as soon as you can would be when on your first day there, you find yourself not looking forward to the next day. There is a huge difference between having a bad day and having a dreadful day. A bad day can be when you spill coffee on your shirt or get caught in traffic.  A dreadful day would be when you feel unhappiness. This is when you should decide if you want to remain in a work environment that makes you feel this way. 

Listen to your gut. If you feel this environment isn’t one that would help you grow as a person, then make strides to leave before you become comfortable. A toxic work environment can also be spotted during an interview. Be sure to ask the right questions and conduct due research before signing your contract.

Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, a South African TVET College. He is the author of Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us, AND My Leadership Legacy Journal available from the ICHAF Training Institute. 

The ICHAF Training Institute offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

Tel: 011 262 2461 | 083 303 9159 |

Email: | 

Website: |