It’s one thing to dislike your job, but it’s another to feel physically ill walking in to work. If your job just doesn’t have redeeming qualities, your work environment may be toxic in more ways than one.
In short, a toxic work environment is any job where the work, the atmosphere, the people, or any combination of those things makes you so dismayed it causes serious disruptions in the rest of your life.
Workplace signs of a toxic environment
These are some solid indicators that you’re in a toxic work environment:
- Employee Sickness: Toxic workplaces lead to employee burnout, fatigue, and illness due to high levels of stress that wreak havoc on our bodies. If people are calling in sick or worse, are working sick, that’s a good sign of a toxic work environment.
- Narcissistic Leadership: Your higher-ups demand that you always agree with them, tell them they’re right, and feel they’re above the rules. They expect everyone else to be perfect while they can meet lower standards.
- Little to No Enthusiasm: Look around the office. Is anyone happy to be working there? Is anyone smiling? Are conversations positive and upbeat? Is anyone talking at all? A ”no” to these questions equals toxicity.
- Lack of Communication or Negative Communication: You and others don’t get the necessary information to do your job. You work hard with no positive feedback and no recognition, and you might even be told to be glad you have a job at all.
- High Turnover: When the work environment has nothing good to offer except dysfunction, poor morale, and sickness, people will start heading for the door to find a better situation. If you notice a high turnover rate in your company or department, take that as a sign of a toxic workplace.
- Cliques, Gossip, and Rumours: Everyone seems to be out for themselves, and there are no genuine friendships among employees. There’s lots of infighting and paranoia as well as gossip and rumours.
In addition to the list above, trust your gut if it tells you something is wrong. Once you know what you’re dealing with, it’s time to develop strategies that can help you stay sane day to day.
Disruptions of a toxic workplace can present in any number of psychological or physical symptoms. These include, anxiety, racing heart, sweating, low mood, irritation, sleepless nights, feeling constantly vigilant, feeling unsafe, low motivation any many more.
A toxic or hostile workplace has negative health impacts that can affect your personal life by damaging everything from your self-esteem to your friendships.
Our bodies are very adept at letting us know there’s a “danger” that needs to be addressed, so we need to pay attention. Check in with yourself frequently with these questions:
- What is the most common emotion for you each day?
- How enthusiastic are you in general, including at work and home?
- How much energy do you have?
- How are you sleeping?
- What are your eating patterns like? What’s your eating like? Are you often too stressed to eat, or do you tend to overeat?
- Are you feeling safe at home and at work?
Make no mistake, every job has bad days sometimes, but you know a job is toxic when you can’t find joy in anything there.
Perhaps some of your coworkers may be great, but others drag you down. The policies are stifling and the managers nitpick and micromanage. You don’t feel safe mentally, sometimes physically. Are you stonewalled, shut out of conversations and important information?
If ANY of those things sound familiar, it’s time to do something. There are many strategies to cope in an environment, especially if you cannot move on to another position/area. There are also strategies that any staff member can do to bring about positive changes in the work environment.
Knowing the signs of a toxic work environment and how to handle it will allow you to take your next step on your terms and in your time — so your next job will be a place you truly enjoy working.
I am trained and equipped in managing difficult workplace dynamics, having courageous conversations, identifying and managing conflict, communication styles, self-care and management amongst many more strategies that we can examine to help you.
Workplace training in this area is also an option for business owners, managers, work teams etc.
We are here to help. Please contact Compass Psychology