Work can be stressful, and to add, working in a toxic work environment, can take a severe toll on your mental and physical health. There are times when we love what we do but not where we are doing it because the workplace is unhealthy, and many professionals are in this circumstance at least once in their professional life. So, how do you avoid being in this situation? How do you deal with working in a toxic work environment?
In this article, we will talk about what a toxic work environment is, toxic workplace signs to look out for and how to stay positive in a toxic work environment.
What Is A Toxic Work Environment?
Wikipedia defines the term toxic workplace as “a place of work, usually an office environment, that is marked by significant personal conflicts between those who work there. Such infighting can often harm productivity.”
Besides the employees, the employers (managers/supervisors/bosses) can be the reasons for the workplace’s toxicity.
Signs You’re in a Toxic Workplace
There are times when our mental and physical well-being is put at risk because our jobs can be stressful to the point that we sometimes even experience burnout. And we think that it’s all part of being in the world of work because we don’t know any better, especially when we are at our entry-level jobs. We assume all workplaces are the same, and they come with stress. However, such is not always the case. You see, there are toxic work environments, and then there are workplaces with healthy environments.
5 Signs of a Toxic Workplace –
- Unhappy And Unhealthy Employees: In a toxic workplace, employees are usually overworked, leading to burnout. This is considered as one of the common signs of a toxic workplace. Some experience illnesses such as fluctuating blood pressure or fatigue.
- Bad Management: Sometimes management can be so poor that employees are unsure what to do, which can hamper productivity, causing delays in meeting deadlines and misunderstanding between team members. This can be not good for both the company and the employees. Bad management is also a sign of a toxic workplace.
- Lack of Communication: In a toxic workplace, due to lack of communication and teamwork, employees feel like minions whose purpose is to do what they are told. Note that lack of communication in an organisation implies it to be a toxic workplace as employees don’t have the opportunity to express themselves. Eventually, they lose interest in their work and overtime and start functioning like zombies. If they don’t feel valued or appreciated, they tend to feel like an outsider who doesn’t see any point in giving their 100% for a company he has no attachment with. This leads to poor quantity and quality of work.
- Tyrannical Boss/Manager: Some bosses or managers lack leadership and management skills. Such people tend to micromanage their employees and usually shout at or scold employees rather than motivate them. And most of the time, they will take credit for employees’ hard work and rarely give out rewards or even words of appreciation. This is one of the worst signs of a toxic workplace.
- Office Gossip And Rumors: In a workplace where gossip and rumours spread like wildfires, due to lack of trust, people do not get along, and this can disrupt workflow and productivity. Again, a sign of a toxic workplace you should look out for. You see, once you lack productivity, you start to doubt yourself and your work. In such a work environment, fights and conflicts usually break out between employees making the office one of their least favourite places.
How To Stay Positive In A Toxic Work Environment
If the signs mentioned above of a toxic workplace tick all your boxes, what do you do? You can’t just up and live without having a good backup plan, right? You need to find a way to deal with it in a healthy way and do your work well. Here are some ways you can stay sane in a toxic workplace –
- Find A Confidante: You cannot be the only one who sees the toxicity of the work environment. Find someone you can trust and lean on when it gets too tough. Talk it out because it’s always good to let your anger out rather than holding it in as it can be bad for your mental well-being. The both of you can have each other’s back and stick up for one another when the need arises. This is one of the best ways to stay positive in a toxic work environment.
- Keep a proper Work-Life Balance: Try separating your work and personal life. Do not allow distractions to sway you away from your work, and at the same time, do not overwork to the point that you experience burnout. One of the most effective ways to stay positive in a toxic workplace is having a balanced work-life routine that will help you avoid unnecessary stress, which could otherwise hamper your productivity.
- Find Healthy Coping Mechanism: Whenever it gets too much at work, find and develop suitable coping mechanisms such as taking deep breaths or counting 1 to 100 backwards. This will help you stay calm and think rationally even when conflicts or crises arise. This simple method will help you to stay positive in a toxic workplace.
- Learn To Say No: You will be given heavy workloads with unrealistic deadlines in a toxic workplace, especially under poor leadership. You need to say No and take on only the amount of work or task you are comfortable with. Taking on more than you can handle will cause you unnecessary stress, which can harm your mental well-being. So in order to stay positive in a toxic workplace, you need to speak up.
- Stick To Regular Working Hours: Ensure that you follow the same working hours followed in your office. From setting time for lunch breaks to the time you are done for the day, follow the same working hours daily, for instance, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Consistency allows one to get used to a specific routine, boosts one’s productivity and stay positive in a toxic work environment.
- Take Care Of Yourself: First of all, know that your health and well-being comes first. You need to be fit and healthy to work energetically and efficiently. You need to get sufficient sleep. Eat healthily and exercise or work out now and then, if not every day. Treating your body right will improve your physical and mental health. This further gives you the strength to control your emotions and actions at work and at home. Moreover, exercise helps in lowering levels of stress hormones, which will be a big help for you to stay positive in a toxic workplace.
- Work, Work, Work: If you focus solely on your work, you will be too busy and will have no time to engage in petty office gossip and stay away from conflicts. Just keep to yourself if you have to. This will help you in your career advancement and also to stay positive in a toxic workplace.
- Focus On Developing Your Self-Management Skills: Self-management skills give you the ability to manage your time wisely, which will help you schedule your daily tasks so that you will be able to do as much as you can in a day without procrastinating. This will increase your productivity, and the more work tasks you complete, the more you will be motivated to move on to the next. Self-management skills will help you realise that you are good at what you do, and this will help you stay positive at a toxic workplace and in life.
Remember, not every office has a toxic work environment. If it gets too bad, you can leave your job and find a place where you can work in a healthy environment. And if you cannot quit, seek professional help because your health comes first.
We hope this article helps you understand what a toxic workplace is and how to stay positive and sane in such places.