15 Warning Signs to Spot a Toxic Work Environment Before Taking a Job
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15 Warning Signs to Identify a Toxic Work Environment Before Taking a Job

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According to Gallup, 85% of the world’s one billion full-time employees are unhappy at work.

While there are a number of reasons that contribute towards job dissatisfaction, a toxic work environment can have a significant impact on an employee’s performance, not to mention their physical and mental health.

But identifying red flags before accepting a job offer can be difficult; companies often sell themselves as a model workplace, when in reality, their inner workings are hugely problematic.

How to Identify a Toxic Work Environment

Today’s graphic comes to us from resume.io and it illustrates the 15 warning signs to look out for before, during, and after a job interview.

15 Warning Signs to Help Identify a Toxic Work Environment

Lifting the Corporate Veil

A toxic work environment diminishes productivity by breeding a culture of discrimination, disorganization, bullying, and may even be fueled by unethical or selfish motivations.

Luckily, prospective employees can avoid 40 hours of torment a week by probing the company’s culture before signing on the dotted line. Here is a list of things to look out for:

Before the Interview

For better or worse, first impressions matter. Although excitement levels may be high, it’s important to pay attention to potential missteps, even before the interview starts.

  1. Vague job description: There should be clarity around the roles and responsibilities associated with the job, even if it is a new role in the company.
  2. Negative reviews on Glassdoor: Company review platforms are quickly becoming an indispensable tool for jobseekers who are interested in learning more about previous and current employees’ experiences.
  3. It took a long time to arrange an interview: Companies should show respect for the interviewee by getting back to them in a timely manner.
  4. Forgetting interviews: This could suggest that either the company has serious communication issues, or they do not prioritize interviewing potential employees.
  5. The interview starts late: Punctuality is not only expected from the person being interviewed, the interviewer should also be on time.

During the Interview

Adrenaline may be pumping when the interviewee is in the hot seat, but it’s crucial that they take stock of how the interviewers are conducting themselves.

  1. Unprepared interviewers: If the interview lacks structure, this could signal a disorganized team and a lack of clear expectations for the role.
  2. No interest in listening: Both parties need to put their best foot forward in an interview, to make sure that the interviewee’s personality and skill set aligns with the company, and vice versa.
  3. Authoritarian interviewer: This may indicate a lack of respect for employees.
  4. Inability to communicate company values: If company values are embodied by employees, then they should be top of mind and easily communicated.
  5. Questions are skimmed over: Companies should be transparent and be willing to provide comprehensive answers to any questions an interviewee may have.

After the Interview

In addition to assessing their own performance, interviewees should give careful consideration to how the entire interview experience went.

  1. Short interview: Either the company has already chosen another candidate, or they are desperate to fill the role as quickly as possible.
  2. Quiet workspace: A lack of teamwork or fearful employees could be the culprit for a silent office.
  3. No office tour: Companies should always give prospective employees a glimpse into what their day-to-day could look like by showing them around and introducing them to the team.
  4. Job offer was given on the day of the interview: The company could be trying to restrict the interviewee doing further research into the company, or simply filling the role as quickly as possible.
  5. Delayed decision-making: Failing to get back to someone who has done an interview shows a lack of respect for their time or disorganization on the company’s end.

It’s also worth mentioning that mistakes can be made by anyone, so it is perhaps not helpful to scrutinize companies for small errors in judgement when most of the experience has been positive.

Regardless, if there are any looming uncertainties, it is up to the person being interviewed to ask.

Finding the Courage to Ask Questions

When it comes to interviews, questioning the culture of the company is just as important as questioning the interviewee on their knowledge and skills.

“He who asks a question may be a fool for five minutes. He who does not ask questions, remains a fool forever.”

—Ancient Chinese proverb

Switching jobs is rarely an easy process, especially when jobseekers have come up against unforeseen challenges as a result of COVID-19.

But it is more important than ever for people to do their due diligence, and be brave enough to ask tough questions. Otherwise, they may have to repeat the cycle all over again—much sooner than they would have thought.

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Technology

Saying Bye to Facebook: Why Companies Change Their Name

Facebook’s impending rebrand will impact the company’s future. Why do companies change their name, and what can we learn from past examples?

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As anyone who’s started a company knows, choosing a name is no easy task.

There are many considerations, such as:

  • Are the social handles and domain name available?
  • Is there a competitor already using a similar name?
  • Can people spell, pronounce, and remember the name?
  • Are there cultural or symbolic interpretations that could be problematic?

The list goes on. These considerations are amplified when a company is already established, and even more difficult when your company serves billions of users around the globe.

Facebook (the parent company, not the social network) has changed its name to Meta, and we’ll examine some probable reasons for the rebrand. But first we’ll look at historical corporate name changes in recent history, exploring the various motivations behind why a company might change its name. Below are some of the categories of rebranding that stand out the most.

Social Pressure

Societal perceptions can change fast, and companies do their best to anticipate these changes in advance. Or, if they don’t change in time, their hands might get forced.

corporate name changes social pressure

As time goes on, companies with more overt negative externalities have come under pressure—particularly in the era of ESG investing. Social pressure was behind the name changes at Total and Philip Morris. In the case of the former, the switch to TotalEnergies was meant to signal the company’s shift beyond oil and gas to include renewable energy.

In some cases, the reason why companies change their name is more subtle. GMAC (General Motors Acceptance Corporation) didn’t want to be associated with subprime lending and the subsequent multi-billion dollar bailout from the U.S. government, and a name change was one way of starting with a “clean slate”. The financial services company rebranded to Ally in 2010.

Hitting the Reset Button

Brands can become unpopular over time because of scandals, a decline in quality, or countless other reasons. When this happens, a name change can be a way of getting customers to shed those old, negative connotations.

corporate name changes restart button

Internet and TV providers rank dead last in customer satisfaction ratings, so it’s no surprise that many have changed their names in recent years.

We Do More

This is a very common scenario, particularly as companies go through a rapid expansion or find success with new product offerings. After a period of sustained growth and change, a company may find that the current name is too limiting or no longer accurately reflects what the company has become.

corporate name changes broadening the scope

Both Apple and Starbucks have simplified their company names over the years. The former dropped “Computers” from its name in 2007, and Starbucks dropped “Coffee” from its name in 2011. In both these cases, the name change meant disassociating the company with what initially made them successful, but in both cases it was a gamble that paid off.

One of the biggest name changes in recent years is the switch from Google to Alphabet. This name change signaled the company’s desire to expand beyond internet search and advertising.

The Start-Up Name Pivot

Another very common name change scenario is the early-stage name change.

start-up name change

In the world of music, there’s speculation that limited melodies and subconscious plagiarism will make creating new music increasingly difficult in the future. Similarly, there are millions of companies in the world and only so many short and snappy names. (That’s how we end up with companies called Quibi.)

Many of the popular digital services we use today started with very different names. The Google we know today was once called Backrub. Instagram began life as Bourbn, and Twitter began life as “Twittr” before finding a spare E in the scrabble pile.

Copyright Problems

As mentioned above, many companies start out as speculative experiments or passion projects, when a viable, well-vetted name isn’t high on the priority list. As a result, new companies can run into problems with copyright.

corporate name change copyright

This was the case when Picaboo, the precursor of Snapchat, was forced to change their name in 2011. The existing Picaboo—a photobook company—was not thrilled to share a name with an app that was primarily associated with sexting at the time.

The fight over the name WWF was a more unique scenario. In 1994, the World Wildlife Fund and the World Wrestling Federation had a mutual agreement that the latter would stop using the initials internationally, except for fleeting uses such as “WWF champion”. In the end though, the agreement was largely ignored, and the issue became a sticking point when the wrestling company registered wwf.com. Eventually, the company rebranded as WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) after losing a lawsuit.

Course Correction

To err is human, and rebranding exercises don’t always hit the mark. When a name change is universally panned or, perhaps worse, not relevant, it’s time to course correct.

name changes course correction

Tribune Publishing was forced to backtrack after their name change to Tronc in 2016. The widely-panned name, which was stylized in all lower case, was seen as a clumsy attempt to become a digital-first publisher.

Why Is Facebook Changing Its Name?

Facebook undertook this name change for a number of reasons, but chief among them is that the brand is irrevocably associated with scandals, negative externalities, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Even before the most recent outage and whistle-blowing scandal, Facebook was already the least-trusted tech company by a long shot. Mark Zuckerberg was once the most admired CEO in Silicon Valley, but has since fallen from grace.

It’s easy to focus on the negative triggers for the impending name change, but there is some substance behind the change as well. For one, Facebook recognizes that privacy issues have put their primary source of revenue at risk. The company’s ad-driven model built upon its users’ data is coming under increasing scrutiny with each passing year.

As well, there is substance behind the metaverse hype. Facebook first signaled their ambitions in 2014, when it acquired the virtual reality headset maker Oculus. A sizable portion of the company’s workforce is already working on making the metaverse concept a reality, and there are plans to hire 10,000 more people in Europe over the next five years.

It remains to be seen whether this immense gamble pays off, but for the near future, Zuckerberg and Facebook’s investors will be keeping a close eye on how the media and public react to the new Meta name and how the transition plays out. After all, there are billions of dollars at stake.

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Markets

The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles in 2021

According to UBS, there are nine real estate markets that are in bubble territory with prices rising to unsustainable levels.

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Ranked: The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles in 2021

Identifying real estate bubbles is a tricky business. After all, even though many of us “know a bubble when we see it”, we don’t have tangible proof of a bubble until it actually bursts.

And by then, it’s too late.

The map above, based on data from the Real Estate Bubble Index by UBS, serves as an early warning system, evaluating 25 global cities and scoring them based on their bubble risk.

Reading the Signs

Bubbles are hard to distinguish in real-time as investors must judge whether a market’s pricing accurately reflects what will happen in the future. Even so, there are some signs to watch out for.

As one example, a decoupling of prices from local incomes and rents is a common red flag. As well, imbalances in the real economy, such as excessive construction activity and lending can signal a bubble in the making.

With this in mind, which global markets are exhibiting the most bubble risk?

The Geography of Real Estate Bubbles

Europe is home to a number of cities that have extreme bubble risk, with Frankfurt topping the list this year. Germany’s financial hub has seen real home prices rise by 10% per year on average since 2016—the highest rate of all cities evaluated.

housing bubble index 2021

Two Canadian cities also find themselves in bubble territory: Toronto and Vancouver. In the former, nearly 30% of purchases in 2021 went to buyers with multiple properties, showing that real estate investment is alive and well. Despite efforts to cool down these hot urban markets, Canadian markets have rebounded and continued their march upward. In fact, over the past three decades, residential home prices in Canada grew at the fastest rates in the G7.

Despite civil unrest and unease over new policies, Hong Kong still has the second highest score in this index. Meanwhile, Dubai is listed as “undervalued” and is the only city in the index with a negative score. Residential prices have trended down for the past six years and are now down nearly 40% from 2014 levels.

Note: The Real Estate Bubble Index does not currently include cities in Mainland China.

Trending Ever Upward

Overheated markets are nothing new, though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamic of real estate markets.

For years, house price appreciation in city centers was all but guaranteed as construction boomed and people were eager to live an urban lifestyle. Remote work options and office downsizing is changing the value equation for many, and as a result, housing prices in non-urban areas increased faster than in cities for the first time since the 1990s.

Even so, these changing priorities haven’t deflated the real estate market in the world’s global cities. Below are growth rates for 2021 so far, and how that compares to the last five years.

housing bubble price increases 2021

Overall, prices have been trending upward almost everywhere. All but four of the cities above—Milan, Paris, New York, and San Francisco—have had positive growth year-on-year.

Even as real estate bubbles continue to grow, there is an element of uncertainty. Debt-to-income ratios continue to rise, and lending standards, which were relaxed during the pandemic, are tightening once again. Add in the societal shifts occurring right now, and predicting the future of these markets becomes more difficult.

In the short term, we may see what UBS calls “the era of urban outperformance” come to an end.

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