Imagine employees of Company A who have been working for the
organization that provides an above-average remuneration package. As a result,
the employees get to sustain their daily needs and have sufficient money for
expenses outside the basics and savings.
However, every Monday, they dread to start the workweek ahead. They arrive at the office unmotivated. At the end of the day, they leave feeling unaccomplished. They stay in their cubicle wishing for the weekend to come as quickly as possible without them suffering from a nervous breakdown.
The employees are caught up in a difficult situation. While the pay is good, it comes at a priceâ€”the slow and steady deterioration of their mental health. If you were in their shoes, would you stay or would you go?
This article will discuss how to deal with a potentially toxic workplace.
Toxic Work Environment: Red Flags
Sometimes, it might be difficult to know for sure whether you're actually working in a toxic environment or you're too susceptible to getting into your head way too much and way too often. To help you make a more objective assessment of the matter, here are the red flags that point to the former.
High turnover rate
This is perhaps the most objective lens you could use in determining whether you're working in a toxic environment. People leave their work for a reason. And if you notice that many of your colleagues have resigned, chances are there's something amiss. Maybe you have yet to absorb what's really wrong, but in time you will. So it's best to stay vigilant.
Unclear career development
As an employee, it's in your best interest to actively seek career development, especially if you've proven your loyalty to an organization. After all, you do not want to stagnate in a job post, no matter how fair the salary is. If you notice that your direct superiors have no plans for you promotion-wise, you're not getting your rightful end of the bargain.
An organization should be a unified entity. Sure, there's always the fact that some people will naturally gravitate toward each other. However, things get toxic when small factions become explicitly or implicitly antagonistic toward those excluded from them. This scenario might give rise to bullying and harassment, which are undebatable benchmarks of workplace toxicity.
Loss of motivation
If you're starting to feel ill at ease in the work you used to enjoy, it's safe to suspect that you might be suffering from burnout. Workplace toxicity may be a possible reason. The same goes for when you suddenly find yourself struggling in a job you previously excelled at.
Monday blues is usual among employees. However, if you're suffering from chronic fatigue at work, your physical malady might be traced back to a more sinister cause, such as workplace toxicity.
This is arguably the worst possible outcome of a toxic workplace: a previously healthy employee plagued with all sorts of diseases suddenly. Keep in mind that your body responds directly to your environment. Therefore, constant physical, emotional, and psychological stressors will eventually affect your health if not mitigated early enough.
A toxic work environment is a serious problem that shouldn't be swept under the rug. According to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, its usual triggers include harassment, discrimination, overwork, and underpaid. Other seemingly inconsequential scenarios factor into the equation, too, including long commutes.
The chronic occurrence of these stressors can be detrimental to your well-being. You might suffer from mental health issues like depression and anxiety. No thanks to burnout, it's not far-fetched to succumb to unhealthy behaviors. Think smoking, substance abuse, and binge eating.
There's also a link between unhealthy work conditions and life-threatening medical issues like heart disease and cancer.
What to Do
If you suspect that you're working in a toxic environment, here's how you can deal with the problem.
If you're a victim of workplace harassment and
discrimination on account of your race, gender, age, disability, or any other
basis protected by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, communicate with your superiors and seek
out due process and resolution of the situation. Become an example so that the
organization will take seriously the same cases that might arise.
Look at the brighter side of things. Reevaluate what you applied for the job in the first place. Try to rekindle the initial spark you felt when you first held the position.
Meditate whenever you can and whenever you need to. That could mean taking five minutes away from your cubicle to breathe in and out in a spot that offers tranquility.
Surround yourself with the right people
Do not encourage cliquish behavior but make sure to have a
support system at work. Have trusted allies who will have your back when the
going gets tough.
Strive for work-life balance. Do not let your professional life bleed into your personal life and vice versa.
Listen to your mind and body. Know when it's time to leave and explore other opportunities. There's no point in staying in a place that compromises your well-being. Do not wait for your health to shut down before prioritizing it.
There's no escaping work. Unless you have the means to
support your daily needs and other lifestyle preferences without having to
work, chances are you'll spend a few good years navigating the corporate world.
This will have its pros and cons. The most obvious advantage is you get to secure your financial future. The downside: you compromise your mental and emotional well-being, most especially if you find yourself in a toxic work environment that makes it impossible for happy and satisfied employees to thrive.
Ideally, you choose an organization that prioritizes employees' well-being. If that's far from the reality you've found yourself in, you'll have to reassess your values and priorities sooner or later. Is the money you're earning enough of a justification for enduring toxicity? Or is your self-worth more important?