How to Survive in a Toxic Working Environment
Toxic work environments not only affect our work life but they also affect our home life and our relationships too. There have been many discussions on how to deal with working in a toxic working environment but I would like to challenge this topic from a different approach.
Its often said that the best way to deal with a toxic workplace is to tune it out, stay positive and to not bring your problems home with you. I think that this is impossible. Rather than ignore the situation and hope for the better I believe that there are other positive steps that you can take to change your situation from bad to good.
TOXIC WORKPLACE SIGNS
- Narcissistic Boss: Your boss is a spotlight seeker who loves to be the center of attention. Dominates meeting conversations and other discussions. Very reluctant to give credit to subordinates or offer recognition for your accomplishments. He or she will drop names of important people often and remind everyone of their position in the organization. They often have a self-centered agenda and want to exploit you as a means to achieve it. Routinely calling upon you to work beyond your job description and established responsibilities.
- Everyone Wants to Leave: When morale is low and the environment is exceptionally dysfunctional, everyone wants to leave and find a better situation. They seek to move to a different department or even to a new organization. If the attrition rate is high in your organization then this is a clear sign of a toxic work environment.
- Everyone’s Pissed: No one seems to be in a good mood or inspired by the work they are doing. The conversation is always centered around the employees’ unhappiness and discontent.
- Bad Communication: Changes occur without being staffed or communicated with the rest of the employees. Meetings are held in the absence of key stakeholders resulting in poor decisions and planning efforts for the business or organization.
- Employee Sickness: Employees suffer from high levels of illness due to burnout or fatigue. Some employees call in sick because they just do not feel like coming to work and dealing with the stress.
- “My” Leadership Philosophy: Bosses and managers reference employees and resources as personal belongs. Degrading the team dynamic and the concept of employee ownership within the organization.
- Boy’s Club Mentality: An exclusive group of men within the office, which may not be senior leaders, serve as the gateway and decision-making authority for the organization.
- Culture of Discrimination: Qualified women and minorities are often passed over or not considered for promotions and raise, which are given to underperforming men.
TOXIC WORKPLACE AFFECTS ON EMPLOYEE HEALTH
The affect of a toxic workplace does not stop when you get off the clock in most cases it follows the person home and they think about their work problems at home. The more toxic the environment the dramatic the effect is on the employee’s home life.
This toxicity can also have an affect on their mental and physical well-being as well. Impacting the employee’s quality of sleep for example which raises the risk for other more serious medical conditions.
TOXIC WORKPLACE AFFECTS ON EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIPS
Your relationships with your friends and family can also be adversely affected by a toxic environment at work. In many cases the emotional baggage and stress one feels at work is taken home with them and displaced on the ones they love.
Prolonged exposure to a toxic workplace can lead to use of alcohol, prescription drugs, and even illegal substance abuse all of which can hurt a person’s personal and family life. Life is too short to live under these conditions. There are things you can do to improve your situation.
ESCAPING A TOXIC WORKPLACE
If you find yourself in a toxic work environment, you need to know that its not your fault. Many people have found themselves in the same type of situation, but you have the power to change it for the better.
1. Change What You Can Control
A toxic workplace exists because people allow toxic elements to go uncontested in their organizational culture. Address these issues with your Human Resources Department and/or Senior leadership if necessary. Allow them a chance address your concerns.
2. Value Yourself
In a toxic work environment, it is easy to become depressed and loose self-value due to the way you are being treated and/or disrespected on the routine basis. Remember that you have value and that you are critical part of the team.
3. Seek Community
Find a community of people who appreciate and respect you as a person. This will reinforce your since of belong and provide you with a since of self-worth that you may not be getting at work. You can find this at church, a charity organization, or even a community sports team.
4. Be Authentic
Be true to yourself. Do not let the things that occur at work change who you are inside. Speak up for yourself and say what’s on your mind.
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