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A toxic job should be avoided at all costs because the longer you are stuck in a stressful, treacherous or exploitative work culture, the more difficult it is to escape from it.

“Once you start working for a toxic culture, people are reluctant to leave because they think, ‘Well, maybe it’s just me,’ or… ‘God, someone is going to do something about this,’” said Mary Abbajay, president . of the leadership development consultancy Careerstone Group and author of “Upward Management: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Kind of Boss.

Toxic jobs mess with your head. When you see your workplace as a danger zone, you sleep less, stress more, and your mental health suffers. “If people stay too long, their self-esteem is decimated and they don’t think they’re good enough to do anything else,” Abbajay said.

In fact, corporate mismanagement accounts for up to 8% of annual health care costs in the US and has been associated with an excess of 120,000 deaths each year, according to research by Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of behavioral health organization at Stanford University.

That’s why it’s so important to trust your instincts if the vibe at your new job feels off. There are many red flags that a workplace may be toxic that you can spot even on your first day. Here are some of the early signs to watch out for:

1. Nobody bothers to welcome you or include you on your first day.

When you’re new, colleagues should make an active effort to make you feel welcome. If they act like they couldn’t care less about your arrival, that can speak to deeper issues within the organization.

“If people say, ‘I don’t have time,’ or show an unwillingness to help you learn or present it, that’s a red flag,” Abbajay said. “You can tell when people are stressed. Are they harassed, are they rough? That is not a sign of a healthy work culture.”

Gregory Tall, a workshop facilitator who trains managers and has more than 15 years of human resources experience, said this can happen in remote jobs, too. Case in point: If there’s no effort to introduce or prep you on Zoom calls on your first day, that’s a red flag.

If your new colleagues are not welcome, it may not have anything to do with you personally. It could be a sign that your co-workers aren’t proud to work for the organization and don’t want to lie to you about it.

“They are no longer faking it. They don’t come in and say, ‘We’re so excited you’re here,’ because they know it sucks and they don’t want to kid themselves that everything is fine,” said Tall.

2. You witness rude behavior that no one stops, not even your boss.

If you notice on your first day that it’s normal to put down colleagues and clients over email or in conversations, that’s a bad sign.

The key difference between a stressful environment and a toxic one is that a toxic job normalizes treating people in a disrespectful way. “TO toxic culture is when humans in that environment are mistreated, are dehumanized either through abrasive leadership or gaslighting or yelling, yelling,” Abbajay said.

You do not want to stay in these types of environments. Bystander to incivility has negative long-term consequences, because bad behavior is contagious. In a series of experiments published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers found that the more people saw and were rude at work, the more likely they were to become rude and hostile.

«IIf that kind of public behavior is tolerated, that means it’s a cultural norm,” Abbajay said.

Keep in mind that if it’s your boss who doesn’t stop the bad behavior, that raises the red flag even bigger.

“If you experience something on day one … where your manager doesn’t support you, that’s your signal to post the resume right away,” Tall said. “That’s supposed to be his number one defender.”

3. Co-workers are too eager to gossip about their colleagues in front of you.

If you’re new to your organization and you already have people lined up to badmouth leaders on your team, that’s a bad sign.

A place where people feel free to make accusations about co-workers when they’re not in the chat or in the room is a place where office drama matters more than getting work done.

“A culture that allows toxic rampant gossip is toxic,” Abbajay said.

You should leave a toxic job as soon as you can.

4. You learn that no one has stayed more than a few months.

Ideally, if there is a role or team with high turnover, a recruiter or hiring manager will clarify this for you in the interview process and explain why. If you’re the third person to fill his position in a year, it shouldn’t be a surprise.

If you find this out on the first day and not during your interview process, it’s a sign the manager purposely withheld this information, Tall said.

“It’s a big deal to change jobs… A lot of people will try to hang on for a while,” he said. “If you see a lot of people who are only there for a few months at a time, that either indicates they’re making their decision to move on pretty quickly, or it means they’re getting fired pretty quickly.”

5. The company prides itself on displaying values ​​that it shouldn’t be proud of.

When you start a new job, you’ll be presented with what the organization really thinks is important, whether they intend to reveal it or not.

Tall recalled a client’s headquarters, where the company proudly displayed its 150-year history through photographs in the atrium.

“I’m going through 150 years and I haven’t seen a single black or colored person,” Tall said. “That alone to me says a lot. The fact that it’s cured, and they intentionally show it as a reflection of ‘who we are in the last 150 years’, to me it’s so bad whether it’s intentional or not.”

6. The expectations of the job you interviewed for are radically different in reality.

In a good onboarding process, your manager meets with you early so you can align on what success means for the position and what your duties are. In a toxic work environment, you may be unclear about your role and find yourself doing a job you didn’t sign up for.

Tall said beware of dramatically different expectations than the ones she discussed in the interview process, including everything related to salary, work hours, job duties and flexibility options.

“You know when you get that first project request and it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, that’s not what was in the post I read.’ I think those are early signs that you might have gotten into something different than you expected,” Tall said.

It can also be a symptom of an understaffed team that needs new people to fill other roles they may not be ready for.

Staying in a job like this can set you up for failure because you’ll then be evaluated based on tasks you don’t have the skills for, Tall said.

7. You end your first day filled with dread for the next.

There is a big difference between the nervousness and the dread of the first day. How you feel being around the people you will spend thousands of hours with is not something you should ignore.

When in doubt about a new job, listen to your gut.

“If you feel fear or unhappiness, that is important [emotions] to verify,” Abbajay said. “How do you feel when you’re in this organization with those people? We all know that emotions are contagious.

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