Toxic workplaces: 6 things you need to watch out for in any organization

About a week ago, social media was abuzz with stories about the toxic workplace culture existing at some supposedly amazing companies in different industries. Many reputable organizations have been ‘dragged’ and people have voiced their opinions for different reasons.

From insulting bosses to wasteful team leaders, listening to all these horrific stories makes you wonder how much emotional, mental and psychological torture is displayed in different environments.

One question is: if companies are toxic, why do people work there or stay there?

Sometimes it’s because they don’t have options, especially when you look at the imbalance between talent supply and talent demand. For these reasons, the employer sometimes feels like the alpha and omega of the employee, and with the shortcomings of labor law, and the responsiveness of the National Labor Court, the employee feels like a helpless pawn thrown on the labor market spectrum.


Below are some tips for spotting a toxic workplace and choosing a breed.

No letter of offer:

It’s 2022 and any organization that doesn’t send you an offer letter before resuming is already showing you a red flag. Section Seven of the Nigerian Labor Law mentions the fact that a written letter of offer must be issued before three months of employment. It’s archaic, I know, but make sure you have an offer letter that explicitly states the terms and conditions that define your contract. Please it is 2022, do not accept a job without an offer letter.

No job description defined

I’m sure we’ve heard stories of how in a startup you don’t have a job description, you do everything together. While this is true and can be obtained in some places, it’s always good to have a well-stated job description against which your performance is benchmarked. It’s normal for this to change over time as your role grows or you take on more responsibilities, but for your sanity and for the sake of your sanity, please ensure there is a job description for you.

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Unstructured compensation

This is another red flag you should be aware of. There are many sad stories of how organizations owe salaries to employees or pay at the end of each quarter or pay based on performance or sales. Although there are different types of compensation, it is often always advisable to clarify what the organization’s compensation looks like, how it is paid, and other relevant facts.

How is performance measured?

Is performance measurement largely related to your work? Some organizations use different systems such as Objective Key Results (OKR), Key Performance Indicators (KPI), Conversations, Feedback and Rewards (CFR) and more. Whether structured or not, system or not, project or not, it is very important to ask the question “what does success look like in this role?” Who measures this success and how does it add to the organization? »

Violence and Harassment Policy

There is a Yoruba saying whose translation says “when there is no law, there is no sin”. It is very important that you work with an organization that has clearly written rules and regulations on all things harassment. Whether verbal, physical or sexual, it should be made known to all employees to enhance transparency.

Appropriate hierarchy

Have you ever visited these businesses run by family members? And how is there no hierarchical line or explicit hierarchical structure? Today you may be reporting to the MD and tomorrow you are reporting to the GM who is the older brother of the MD. The secretary might ask you to retype a note because she’s the cousin (or mistress, as the case may be) of the MD and the COO barely comes to work because she’s the wife’s friend of the general manager. If you find yourself in this kind of environment, do not hesitate to leave as soon as possible. Lack of structure, hierarchy, and good governance influence both the inflow and perception of an organization’s prospects, and you don’t want to be part of a company targeted by investigative journalists, isn’t it not?

About Alma Ackerman

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