Toxic work environment is more than just the Monday Blues you ‘hate’.
A toxic working environment is defined as a place that makes you feel anxiety, physically ill, or even depressed about going back to work. This is the unhealthy work culture which gives you more than the general work stress; it impact you in both mental and physically health.
To many of you, the work place is your second home. You spend most of your waking hours at work, so why not find a work place that is great!
Even when you are working from home, a toxic work environment can go beyond physical boundaries.
You can get calls at the wee hours of the night, or work way pass your office hours.
Let’s look at some signs of a toxic workplace!
PS. These are also the red flags you should look for in a new job.
Signs of a Toxic Workplace
- You find yourself googling ‘How to survive a toxic workplace’?
- Constant Fear of Failure
- Narcissistic Leadership
- Poor Communications
- Unmotivated Coworkers
- Gossipy Behaviors
- No Work-Life Balance
- Makes you Feel Burnout
- High employee turnover rate
1. You find yourself googling ‘How to survive a toxic workplace’?
If that describe you, there is a high chance that the company you are working have a toxic work environment.
Simply check your search history, what do you see?
Do you find searches like these?
- How to survive a hostile work environment?
- Signs you should quit your job immediately.
- When is the best time to quit my job?
- What to say when quitting a job?
- How to write resignation letter?
- What happened when you get fired or quit your job?
These searches are your deepest desire.
2. Constant fear of failure
No one wants to make mistake. But a survey done with 420 participant shows that, one in four employees feels that making mistake at their job is their biggest fear at work.
There is a big difference between just feeling disappointed for making mistakes and learn from it, and feeling paralyzed by fear.
The feeling of being threatened to be punished for each failure is toxic.
The total lack of psychological safety is an obvious indicator of a toxic work environment.
3. Narcissistic Leadership
The boss is always right, and you are always wrong!
Does that feels like your workplace?
Your boss demands that you always agree with them, and tell them they are right.
If you disagree, they will belittle you and makes you feel worst than your Monday’s Blues.
Narcissistic leadership is one of the worst toxic work culture you can ever face.
Not only you’ll feel stressed and “hate” your job, it will have a lasting impact on your mental health as well.
4. Poor Communications
Confusing and insufficient instructions?
Poor communications is the root cause of many problems in the workplace.
Bad communications between coworkers can lead to misunderstanding, that can cause disharmony between employees.
Communications includes both parties:
A good communication consist of both listening and communicating.
This can be through verbal communication or written communication.
Here are some examples of poor communication in the workplace:
- Lack of clear instructions
- Contradicting instructions
- Different coworkers receiving different message
- Passive aggressive communication
- Management or employee failing to listen
- Consistent after work hours communications
Great communication, makes successful companies. Bad communication, can make working at the company unbearable.
5. Unmotivated Coworkers
If you find yourself in a work environment full of unmotivated coworkers, you know something is off.
Employees don’t usually become unmotivated in a day or two. It is usually the combined result of a bad boss and a toxic work environment.
Having unmotivated coworkers can lead to 2 outcomes:
- You are going to take up the work they are not handling, which lead to the feeling of physical burnout.
- You are going to absorb all the negative energy from them, which lead to feeling of mental burnout.
In both case, it doesn’t ends well for you.
6. Gossipy Behaviors
Do you hate people talking behind your back?
While having workplace friends and buddies is great, any gossipy behaviors should be avoided.
When there is a lot of gossipy behaviors in the workplace, there will be coworkers, whom will feel alienated or even bullied.
Here are a few signs of gossipy behaviors in the workplace:
- Consistent feeling of exclusion from the ‘cliques’
- Coworkers spend most of their time chatting or whispering
- Disinterest in anything unless it involves some ‘drama’
When gossipy behavior leads to favoritism at work, that’s the worst it can get.
7. No Work-Life Balance
You work in your job to get a life, not the other way round.
There should always be balance in both your work and your life.
- You should have friends and ‘things to do’ outside work.
- You should be able to set your phone on silent and don’t need to worry about your boss.
- You should be able to enjoy your vacation and not feeling guilty.
- You should spend your time with your family and not bring work home.
- You should be able to put your family as your priority instead of your work.
Work life balance is about getting yourself switch off from work related stuff during off-hours, and spend the rest of your time on things you really want. It is about the balance of having a healthy life in both mind and body.
8. Makes you Feel Burnout
Feeling burnt out from work or job burnout is a medical condition recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Burnout is a state of vital exhaustion that is a disease caused by a toxic work environment. As per, WHO, job burnout is a work hazard. If it is not taken seriously, it can lead to bad consequences.
3 main types of burnout in workplace:
- Overload Burnout: People who are initially highly passionate, they work harder than anyone in hope to find success. These coworkers are willing to risk their health and personal life while pursing their ambition. They cope by complaining.
- Worn-out Burnout: People don’t feel appreciated for their work, lack of learning opportunities and overall unmotivated. These coworkers loss their passion or no longer enjoy their time at work. They cope by distancing themselves from their colleagues, boss and job.
- Underchallenged Burnout: People who feel bored at the repetitive task at work. These coworkers are unable to find any satisfaction at their job. They cope by gossiping and creating dramas in the company.
Burnout can have scary psychological effects on you:
- Depressive symptoms
- Use of psychotropic and antidepressant medications
- Hospitalization for mental disorders
- Psychological ill-health symptoms
9. High employee turnover rate
Turnover rate is one of the most obvious indicator of the company’s current work environment. High turn over rate usually indicates a bad work environment, and a low turn over rate usually indicates a good work environment. The work environment may includes but not limited to; the boss, the coworkers, the organization, the culture.
According to the recent studies, almost 1 in 5 employees left their job in the last 5 years due to the work culture.
- Companies which focus on creating a positive work culture have a 14 percent turnover rate.
- Companies which ignore creating a positive work culture have 48 percent turnover rate.
Employees are 3 times more likely to leave their job, if the work place have a toxic work environment.
You’ve find yourself smiling and agreed with most things on this list
Good news, you’ve just identified a toxic workplace.
So… what’s next?
Maybe you want to fix it?
Or maybe, you simply want to find another job and leave this dreaded place.
Anyway, here are something you can do when when you are in a toxic work environment.
How to Handle Toxic Work Environment
Changing the work environment takes time, and finding a job is not easy. Here are 5 things you can do to handle a toxic work environment.
1. Find people who are similar to you
Develop friendships with people who feels the same way as you.
Moral support can be very important especially at times like this. These people will help to watch your back and help you in times of need.
2. 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.
Finding fulfilment in life can help you both mentally and emotionally.
3. Create a work list to keep yourself focus
Staying focus in your work and not get affected by the toxic atmosphere is probably the hardest.
Keeping a work list prevents you from getting distracted and helps you to accomplishes your work.
This gives you the reason to go to work everyday.
4. Document everything
Save all emails and record minutes from your meetings. All these documentation will save you from any disputes on agreements and discussions.
Though, this will take a lot of work, and may seem troublesome.
If you need to file a complain, or reference a discussion, these evidence are ready.
5. Plan for an exit
When you know you are in an toxic environment, it is time for you to plan for your future.
Do you want to do something to change the toxic work culture?
Or do you want to 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 probably go through the 5 phases of job recovery in your journey of getting a new job.
The key is, you have to plan for your future and don’t make decisions on impulse.
Why is recognizing a toxic work environment important?
Recognizing a toxic work environment can help you in your career.
If you want to grow in your career, you need to nurture your skills in a good environment. This will help you to accelerate your progress in both pay raise as well as career progression.
Working at a toxic environment can affect your relationships, health and personal worth.
If you are convinced that your workplace have a toxic work culture, knowing when to quit might be the best gift you’ve given yourself this year.
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