Your place of work is where you spend most of your waking hours and your colleagues are the people you are closest to apart from family and friends. The atmosphere where you work has a huge impact on your health and life in general.
We all get a bad Monday, a bad week, or even a bad month but being in a toxic work environment can be hellish and hard to bear. Every workplace has its challenges and so sometimes it could be difficult to tell if a workplace is toxic or just has its fair amount of challenges.
Here are some things to look out for to know if you are in a toxic workplace:
- Poor communication: Communication skills is the most important skill needed for an organization to be successful. If you feel like you are constantly being left out of the loop regarding important information, or if different employees always receive different information, then you are most likely in a toxic work environment.
- Poor leadership: There is a saying that “you don’t leave a job, you leave a bad boss”. Bad bosses come in various forms. There could be the micromanaging boss who is always on your neck, correcting you and not allowing you to do your job properly, or the boss that blames everyone for mistakes but never takes any blame, as well as the boss that doesn’t have respect for your time and efforts, and calls or emails at any time of the day.
- Stunted growth: If you are not experiencing any growth in your workplace, then you are in a toxic environment. If you are not getting training or mentorship, then they are most likely not invested in their workers. Once you realise that there is no room for growth, it might be time for a change of environment.
- No work-life balance: You should be able to have a life outside work. You shouldn’t feel guilty about making plans or making use of your vacation days. Your job shouldn’t require your time 24 hours a day. If your boss demands your time at random hours. then you just might be in a toxic environment.
- Unprofessional colleagues: if your teammates don’t take their jobs seriously, it could make doing your job difficult. It would be hard for you to function properly if your team doesn’t support you.
Here’s how to handle being in a toxic environment:
Find a hobby: Find something to do after work that you enjoy that would help you relieve some of the stress.
Create a to-do list: Listing out the things you have to do for the day would help you keep focused and distract you from the toxic environment.
Document everything: Have email trails of all correspondence, have a file with every decision made and lists of people you interact with. This would come in handy if you have to file a complaint and you need evidence to back up your claims.
Connect with people who feel the same way: Find people who feel the same way as you do, so you can watch each other back and share good or bad news. However, be discreet.
Plan your exit: While you wait and see if things would improve, start looking for a new job. This would help you stay positive when things are tough. If things get really bad and you have to leave as soon as possible, then find a job you can do while you wait for your next real job.