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by Chris Norton | April 09, 2021


You will probably spend about 30% of your adult life at work. Naturally, you want to be at a job where you know you will be happy. Job satisfaction means different things to different people, and it's important to define those parameters for yourself as you embark on your search for the perfect job. But what about the red flags? As someone looking for a job, you need to be able to identify a healthy work environment. Here are three indicators of an unhealthy workplace you should look out for when applying to work at a new company.

1. Worrying Company Culture

Before applying for a job, it’s important to dig into the company culture. Start by researching the company online. You want to work in a company with a positive culture. Conduct some due diligence into the company. Seek out employee reviews, ask friends and professional colleagues for insights, etc.

Searches like this might help you identify warning signs of an unhealthy workplace. You can review sites that share information from employees about the company culture

You may also consider talking to people who work for the company before applying. You can leverage your professional network to find people you know, or you could get an introduction to that work at the company and ask for their feedback. 

2. No Work-Life Balance

Maintaining a work-life balance is critical to your health. A University College London study looked at the working habits of 10,000 civil servants in London. Participants who worked three or more hours of overtime had a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems than those who didn’t work overtime.

In a healthy workplace, managers care about their employees as people and not as cogs in a machine. If you’re sick, a good boss will encourage you to stay home and rest. They’ll also encourage you to take your vacation days and stop working at a reasonable hour in the evenings. 

Management should understand that poor work-life balance affects employee morale, wellness, and productivity. When employees are demoralized and unproductive, they can’t help the company grow. 

A poor work-life balance encompasses more than just the number of hours you work. The company should also support your professional growth.

For example, many companies offer employees an annual budget for professional development. You might join a social media training session to feel more confident in your ability to handle social media for the company or receive certification in a specific skill that’s directly relevant to your job

For me, the opportunity to join seminars and other courses that support your growth fit into this work-life balance. Sure, when you attend a seminar, you are still working, but you’re operating in a different environment than normal. You have different challenges. It makes the work rewarding.

3. High Employee Turnover

If a company has high employee turnover, that may be a warning sign of an unhealthy workplace. Outside of downsizing, there are numerous reasons that many people would leave a company in a short time period. Common reasons for high employee turnover include:

  • Mismanagement
  • Disorganization
  • Lack of leadership
  • Minimum growth opportunities

There are several ways you can research employee turnover. One of the most straightforward approaches is to head over to the company’s LinkedIn page, where you can find a list of employees who work at the company.

Look at the profiles of some of the people at the company. Focus on people who have a similar job title to yours.

When you review their profile, look at their employment history. Check out how long these people have been working at the company. If most people have worked at the company for a few years, that’s a positive sign. On the other hand, if most people have worked at the company for less than a year, this could be a sign of an unhealthy workplace.

Don’t settle for an unhealthy workplace that keeps you unhappy. If you work in an unhealthy work environment, you won’t have space for personal or professional growth. You’ll end up wasting your time, and the stress will take its toll on your health. Remember, life is short. Don’t waste your time in a company that doesn’t acknowledge your worth. You deserve better. 

Chris Norton is the founder of the insight-led PR agency Prohibition, former University lecturer, author of “Share This Too” and listed in the UK's top 10 PR and social media bloggers. Chris also runs Social Media Training where he offers social media training courses for UK businesses.