Working in a negative work environment can be harmful to your mental and physical health.
In 2021, 79.3 million U.S. workers are affected by toxic workplace and 13% of these American workers reported weekly exposure to workplace abuse.
U.S. data shows 6.0% are physical violence at work and 41.4% are non-physical form of workplace bullying.
A toxic work environment is a mental torture that causes anxiety, depression, substance abuse and other health issues.
57% of people report leaving work feeling exhausted, and the toxic colleagues or coworkers are is often the source of that stress.
How to deal with a toxic work environment
A toxic work environment is usually due to bad leadership that lead to poor communication between colleagues, a culture of cliques, exclusion and gossipy behavior.
Even if you want to quit your job and change you work environment, it will take time, as finding a job is not easy.
Here are a few things you can do when dealing with a toxic work environment.
1. Leave your work stress at work
Leaving your work related stuff back at office is the first step to create boundaries between your work and your life after work.
Often, we vent our frustration to our partner about how much we dislike our work. Work related issue is always our main topic every night after we get back home from work.
Be conscious to avoid talking about your work related stress.
Try to talk about topics other than your toxic co-workers or bad boss.
Talk about things which you can’t control will only increase your stress and make your life miserable even after work.
Create your own work-life balance can help keep you sane in a toxic work environment.
2. Create a work schedule
Staying focus in your work and not get affected by the toxic atmosphere is probably the hardest.
Keeping a work schedule prevents you from getting distracted and helps you to accomplishes your work.
How to create a work schedule?
- Write down every task. Write down both personal and professional task that you want to accomplish during a normal work week.
- Identify priorities. Go through each of your task and rank them according to priorities.
- Identify the frequency. Write down the frequency of each task.
- Group similar task. Group similar task together will help increase your work efficiency.
- Create a weekly chart. Put all your information in a weekly chart will allow you to understand what are the other task you’ll need to do ahead of time.
- Be flexible. Be flexible to update your work schedule when required.
3. Be around co-workers who are similar to you
Even when there are many toxic people in your workplace, there are always a few co-works who are good. These colleagues dislike the toxic environment just as much as you.
There are still many coworkers who want to have a positive working environment where they can be productive and able to perform in their work.
Develop friendship with people who feels the same way as you can help you survive the toxic environment.
With them, you can even fix the toxic work environment and create a more positive work experience.
Moral support can be very important especially in a negative workplace.
4. Take up a hobby or interest
Do something you are passionate which is unrelated to your work.
These hobbies or interest will help you find purpose in life to combat the drama you’ve face in your 9 to 5 workday.
You might even build a side hustle and create your own business with your new hobby.
Finding fulfilment in life can help you both mentally and emotionally.
5. Know how to confront if necessary
In a toxic work environment, sometimes it is unavoidable that you may meet with highly stressful one-on-one conversation.
Know that you should never focus any confrontation directed to the people, but to the issue itself.
How to confront with someone at your workplace?
- Know when to speak up. Always pick your battles. Don’t choose confrontation over small issues. Safety and development are the two reasons where a confrontation might be required.
- Know your timing. If you are around a lot of people, this might not be the best time to disagree with your boss or manager. Having a confrontation at the right time can have impact to the result of the confrontation.
- Know the location. Not every place is a good place to start the confrontation. If confrontation happens in their space, the person may feel attacked. If confrontation happens in your space, they may feel you have the upper hand. Find a neutral ground like a café or empty conference room to speak will be much preferred.
- Keep it simple. Don’t beat around the bush when you want to tackle the issue. Keep the conversation simple and straight to the issue. Keep it simple on the topic you want to discuss will prevent any unnecessary misunderstanding.
- Know when to stop the conversation. If the conversation turns ugly, and they start to yell or getting too emotional, stop the conversation. If the issue cannot be solved with an one-on-one conversation, it might be helpful to bring in someone who can offer an objective take on the situation, such as your supervisor, or human resource at work to help resolve the issue.
6. Document everything
Save all emails and record minutes from your meetings. These documentation will save you from any disputes on agreements and discussions.
Although, this will take a lot of work, and may seems to be quite troublesome.
If you need to file a complain, or reference a discussion, these evidence are ready.
7. Plan for an exit
When you know you are in an toxic environment, it is time for you to plan for your future.
You’ll have 2 choice.
- Do something to change the toxic work culture.
- Quit and move to somewhere with a better work culture.
If you’ve decided to stay, you have to keep positive when things get rough.
If you’ve decided to leave, you have to consider updating your resume and cover letter.
You’ll need to be well prepared before you decided to quit your job.
This can help you in your recovery from a job lost.
Eventually, you will get a new job that is better and makes you happier.
Most importantly, you have to plan for your future and don’t make any decisions on impulse.
what is considered a Toxic work environment?
A toxic work environment is defined as any workplace where the atmosphere, the people, the culture, the work, or any combination of these lead to serious negative impact to your work life.
If you are in a workplace where the environment cause you to feel insecure, or bad about yourself, you might be in a toxic environment.
Generally, an unhealthy work environments is created by toxic colleagues which lead to low morale, constant stress, negativity, complains, physical sickness, high turnover rate, and even bullying at the workplace.
planning your job exit strategy
A good job exit strategy is to remove yourself from your current job with grace and professionalism, hopefully with a severance package.
- Should you quit your job? (Quiz)
- Things you should know before quitting your job.
- Getting yourself prepared before quitting your job.
- Resigning during bond period.
- Leaving a job you’ve just started professionally.
Often, it is better to plan ahead before you give your boss your resignation letter.
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