With return-to-office (RTO) mandates have come changes in workplace dynamics.

In February, ResumeBuilder.com surveyed 557 workers at companies that shifted to remote work during the pandemic but now mandate in-office presence at least once a week. The aim was to gauge whether these employees were encountering a toxic workplace environment.

Key findings:

  • 30% of workers say the company culture has been toxic since RTO policy was issued
  • 21% of workers say they’ve experienced bullying and 28% “creepy” behavior since RTO
  • Gen Z was more likely to say they’ve experienced bullying and creepy behavior

Summary of Findings

According to our findings, 30% of employees perceive the company culture as toxic following the implementation of the RTO policy. This sentiment appears consistent across genders and age groups.

Furthermore, 21% of employees have reported instances of bullying, while 28% have encountered behavior categorized as creepy since returning to the office. Creepy behavior was defined in the survey as actions or comments that induce discomfort or fear.

Both men and women reported experiencing bullying and creepy behavior at similar rates. However, Gen Z respondents were notably more likely to report such experiences. Specifically, 38% of Gen Z individuals reported encountering bullying, while 46% reported experiencing creepy behavior.

Expert Insights

Below, Resume Builder’s Resume and Career Strategist Julia Toothacre offers insights to workers.

How can workers handle uncomfortable or potentially toxic situations in the workplace? 

Write down the behaviors you’re seeing or why you feel uncomfortable. In some cases, we misidentify a behavior or feeling because of situations in our past. When you write an experience down, it allows you to look at the facts to determine if there is a situation worth reporting or that needs to be addressed.

Having said that, many people stay in toxic and abusive work environments because they don’t identify it that way or they were taught to just deal with it, especially if their livelihood is threatened.

It’s worth discussing your situation with trusted people in your life to get an outside and objective opinion of what you’re experiencing. If you determine the situation is harassment and have documented it, take your concerns to human resources.

Take steps to find another position if you’re uncomfortable going to human resources or confronting the situation. In that instance, I recommend using the exit interview to share your experience with human resources.

Why is Gen Z reporting bullying or creepy behavior at higher rates?
I think Gen Z is more aware of what it looks like than previous generations. Gen Z is self-aware, protective, and well-versed in therapy language.

While older generations were told to just deal with it and rarely went against the organization, Gen Z will leave if they aren’t treated well.

Matt Enhard shares his perspective as managing partner at the recruiting firm Summit Search Group.

“Something I don’t think we’re discussing enough is the fact that COVID-19 was a major global trauma, and a large percentage of the population has not fully recovered from it,” says Enhard. “Along with this, the isolation many experienced led to an atrophying of certain social skills, and not everyone has transitioned fully back into engaging with people face-to-face. Because of this, I feel some of these creepy behaviors are unintentional and are a byproduct of individuals relearning how to engage with society in an appropriate way. These are exactly the kinds of issues that a one-on-one conversation can best resolve because these individuals may not even be aware that their behavior is negatively impacting others.”

“It is very possible that other generations are experiencing bullying or toxicity at the same rates as Gen Z professionals, but Gen Z is simply more likely to call it out. I find Gen Zers have a lower tolerance for this type of behavior than older workers. They are also more dubious of the traditional workplace model overall.”


This survey was commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted in February 2024 via SurveyMonkey. Respondents consisted of a national sample of 557 full-time U.S. workers.

The survey was balanced to reflect the age, gender, and income demographics of full-time U.S. workers. To qualify for the survey, respondents had to answer that they currently work for a company that issued a return-to-office policy in 2021 or later and are required to work from the office at least once per week.

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