These days, looking for a job is more than just finding a company that allows you to make ends meet. You have to consider your short-term and long-term career goals and how a potential employer can help you achieve them. Ideally, you should be able to see yourself working with an organization for a long time — and maybe even staying there until you’re ready to retire.
However, it can be tricky to determine whether a company is a good fit for your needs and values. Some employers can mask unethical practices and other labor-related issues under a veneer of fake corporate smiles. Fortunately, you can uncover key signs of a toxic workplace if you look hard enough. Here are some indicators you need to watch out for in a potential employer.
High Turnover Rate
Before you apply for a job, you need to take a step back and ask why the spot is available in the first place. Is the company hiring more people because of an expansion and increased orders, or is it because of high turnover? To determine this, you have to research for news on the company and stay informed of how they’re doing. By doing so, you can avoid joining a sinking ship.
In 2021, the average voluntary turnover rate was 32.7%, which increased 7.5 from the 2020 rate. There are several factors to consider, given the global health crisis that led to exceptional working arrangements, which might have caused employee burnout. Nonetheless, this implies that a company going over this figure may have problems taking care of its workforce.
Although you might not be able to calculate the exact employee turnover rate of a potential employer, you can check online resources, such as LinkedIn, to see how many employees they have. Then, compare this figure with the number of jobs available and match it with news of their growth — or lack thereof — to get a sense of their retention and turnover rates.
Another way to check if a potential workplace is toxic or not is by asking past or current employees directly about the company. You may know people in the organization or have mutual friends who work there. You may also cold-contact them through social networking sites. Getting firsthand information about the company can help you assess what it’d be like to work there. Unhappy employees are more prone to gossip about their employers if they feel unappreciated or dehumanized in their workplace.
To avoid influencing the person’s reply, you can just simply tell them that you’re planning to apply for that organization and would appreciate their insights into the culture. If you can, ask them what a typical working day and management is like and other worries you may have. These are two major factors to be mindful of when listening to gossip about a potential employer:
If it’s too easy for people to badmouth their supervisors and managers, it could indicate a lack of trust in their leadership. At one point or another, their boss may have betrayed their confidence. No matter how badly the worker messed up, a good leader should remember to reprimand in private and praise in public to protect the employee’s morale.
Employees may also gossip about their employer if they feel like their voice isn’t heard. Think about it; if they’re all too pleased to share their criticisms with you instead of the proper internal channels, it shows that there’s something wrong with the company’s processes, especially when listening to their workforce.
Just like buying the best products and services, reading up on reviews can give you an idea of a company’s culture and whether they’re a great fit for you. Third-party sites — such as Glassdoor, Indeed, and Comparably — are valuable resources because they allow employees to talk about their experience in the company. These websites also provide a snapshot of how many stars each organization got for work-life balance, management, compensation and benefits, culture, and job security and advancement, among others.
Just be mindful of bad reviews, though, and take everything with a grain of salt. For instance, if the company got a relatively good rating, but one person gave a poor score, you should read the comment and check where the reviewer is coming from. They may have had a hard time because they were unable to fulfill their job responsibilities for some reason and are retaliating against the company by giving it a bad review. Of course, if the reviews are consistently low, you know that they aren’t and won’t be a good employer.
Court records also hold the key to evaluating a potential workplace. You can do a quick search to find labor-related lawsuits that the company has been involved in. Check if ex-employees have sued them and if they’ve filed counter-lawsuits. You can also look for news coverage about the lawsuits that the organization has faced to get an idea if they’re involved in discrimination and other unfair labor practices.
Lastly, keep your eyes and ears wide open when you’re invited for an interview in the office. This is your chance to get a feel of the work environment and see how employees interact with each other. Check people’s non-verbal cues. If they’re tense, and you don’t feel any warmth in their exchanges, they may not be too happy working there. This is a red flag and likely indicates a toxic workplace.
Every job seeker wants a job that allows them to earn well and provides opportunities for career growth. When looking for potential employers, you should do your research and take a look at what’s really happening in the day-to-day grind.
One major sign of a toxic workplace is high turnover. You have to ask yourself why people are leaving their jobs in that company. Gossip, bad reviews, labor-related lawsuits, and tension in the workplace are other indicators that an organization is not a great place to work in. Be mindful of these signs to protect yourself and avoid getting burned out.