What Makes A Workplace Toxic?



A job can be the perfect dream job for someone else and a perfect nightmare for you. That doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you. It certainly doesn’t mean that you must suffer or endure the toxicity. No job is worth more than your mental or physical health.

What makes a workplace toxic? There can be any number or combination of things including:

  • Bully Boss
  • Incompetent Boss
  • Nepotism
  • Negative Coworker
  • Work Schedule
  • Location
  • Workload or duties
  • Triggering/Mental Health challenge
  • Culture
  • Mission
  • Lack of resources
  • Distance
  • Overlooked/Passed Over
  • Environmental Influences
  • Salary
  • Lack of Communication

REMINDER: There is more to life than work. Don’t form your identity around your job title or salary. You are more than that. You make the job, the job doesn’t make you!

Some say we are coming to the end stages of The Great Resignation. When I left my job I had to recenter myself, refocus on my needs, and reimagine my future. If you have recently left a toxic workplace, remember these 3 tips as you advance to your next level.

Grant Yourself Grace

Although it may take courage to leave a toxic workplace, let’s all agree to dismiss the notion that you are weak if you don’t leave or didn’t leave sooner. Being hard on yourself rarely makes things better. And don’t take on anyone else’s fears or negative emotions. Everyone experiencing toxicity in the workplace deserves support and encouragement.

Healing Is Required

A toxic workplace impacts every area of your life. You won’t just get over feeling exploited, ignored, frustrated, incompetent, fearful, or any other number of emotions you may have experienced on your way to resignation. Be kind to yourself, seek support or counsel, allow yourself time to heal.

Honor Your Journey

You should not feel shame because you experienced abuse or trauma. I’m not suggesting that you take pride in suffering, but I do want you to glean the valuable lessons in the experiences. Use the pain to build yourself up instead of tearing yourself down. Understand that your story may inspire someone else, but most of all let your story inspire you.

If you need help as you navigate this transition, let’s chat.

A Career Activation Strategy Session is a great starting point for career transition.



Nicki Sanders, MSW, ushers high-performing women of color in mid-level social work and human services leadership through promotion to senior leadership. As Founder and CEO of Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting, her mission is simple – to eliminate toxic workplaces by developing skilled, empathetic, and goal-oriented leaders who have the vision, support, and resources to create a culture where business prospers, and employees thrive individually and collectively. Nicki has an extensive background in nonprofit management leading high-functioning, multi-disciplinary teams. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has combined her gift for authentic relationships, Master of Social Work degree, and over 20 years of diverse work experience to create a life and career aligned with her values and purpose. Nicki is a lover of cupcakes, travel, and 80’s hip hop and R&B music.

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