Employers who operate using a healthy day to day working environment are employers with lower employee turnover, higher production rates, and better profits. Is your workplace hostile or are you missing out?

    Addressing workplace aggression, monitoring stress levels, and creating an open flow of communication are all key steps towards office harmony. When you fail to act upon bullying or bad management you open yourself up to a workplace turned sour. 

    This article aims to define the symptoms of a hostile workplace in the hopes of helping employers understand when it is time to act. 

    What Does it Mean if a Workplace is Hostile?

    If you are in a volatile situation at work, you might not feel safe. Employees are often under large amounts of stress or are subject to an aggressive (or passive aggressive) management style. Inefficient management and impossible targets are only two of the things which might turn a workplace nasty. Other causes might be:

    • Bullying or repetitive belittlement
    • Hate statements.
    • Racism
    • Sexism
    • Intimidation tactics
    • Exclusion from the team
    • Social media (Facebook, TikTok, Instagram) bullying
    • Any other type of discrimination

    Identifying the Symptoms of an Oppressive Working Space

    Identifying employee unhappiness is the key to seeing the symptoms of an oppressive workspace in action. The point is that your employees do not want to come to work. Your business will experience a higher staff turnover and potentially start getting bad reviews on employment sites.

    As well as poor reviews and less staff availability, you should see certain clues around the office or site. These may include the following.

    Negative Language

    Whenever you hear negative language around the workspace take a moment to consider if it is necessary. Is that language innocently negative or is it loaded with discriminatory statements. The difference between an employee who is under the weather and an employee who is bullying another might be expressed as the difference between:

    “I didn’t get the job done in time/I’m useless this week/Can you give this case to someone else? I don’t think I’ll do well.”


    “The project failed because he/she/they slowed us down” or “They are so lazy, we basically carried them the whole way.”


    If you encounter employees being treated less favorably than others, double-check why. It is one thing to keep an employee in a low-level position because they are a slower learner than others and another thing entirely to see an employee held at entry level due to the color of their skin.

    Keep Tabs on Micro-Management

    Micro-management might be necessary when creating individual plates of food for a Michelin reviewer, but it is not OK in daily office life. If you spot a manager picking apart the work individual people do for you, this warrants a closer look. 

    Poor Communication

    Lastly, look out for the way employees communicate with management in your organization. If they rarely come to you with comments or suggestions, then they do not trust the management process. Be careful those you trust to run your business are not running it poorly.

    Spot the Symptoms and Act Fast

    Once you can recognize the signs, you can learn to look out for them. Spotting the symptoms of workplace aggression allows you to act quickly to resolve the situation before you can no longer find new staff. You have a duty of care towards your employees while they are with you. Protect them and they will look after you.