Welcome to the beginning of my new series entitled “Going to Work.” This series is all about work related issues, remedies, successes, failures and much more.
Each week I will bring you a new article to read and provide comments for. I truly hope that you enjoy this series and will join in the conversation. You never know when your comment will help someone else who is struggling.
Please keep comments respectful and let’s keep politics out of the conversations as well. Thank you and I hope you enjoy this series.
Without further ado, I bring you Article 1 – Signs of a Toxic Workplace
Signs of a Toxic Workplace
How many of you work in a toxic workplace? Not sure? One thing is for certain, you need to be happy with your work, and the people you work with. No one is saying you have to like everyone you work with but you should do your absolute best to maintain your professionalism. Below are some signs that you are working in a toxic environment. How many, if any of these signs, can you relate to?
Do you have difficulty completing your work within the recommended or requested time frame no matter how hard you try? If this is a constant situation for you it can lead to high levels of anxiety and depression. The long-term effects can lead to low morale and high turnover rates due to employee burnout.
The recommended remedies for this type of situation are to:
- Talk to your supervisor to see if there’s a possible way to lighten your load;
- Prioritize your workload;
- Take a few days off to clear your head. This won’t change your workload but you may return with a different perspective on how to complete the tasks on time;
- Make sure you take your allotted breaks and do something that relaxes you.
Working a lot of Overtime
Is your job supposed to be an 8-hour per day job but you’re usually working 10 hours daily to meet your deadlines? You should note that people who tend to work long hours over an extended period of time run a higher risk for depression. So what can you do about it? You could try taking a break from work. Don’t take it home with you or stay late as often. The work will still be there when you return refreshed from a good night’s rest, or a short vacation and you’re ready to tackle the job again.
Frequent Feelings of Anxiousness
Do you often feel over anxious throughout your work day? Toxic work environments can cause high levels of anxiety, stress and worry. If you are frequently feeling ill on your way to work, or your appetite has changed, or your chronic aches and pains have become worse, these are all signs that you are over anxious.
Recommended remedies are:
- Counteract your anxieties with healthy habits such as exercise, sleep, and healthy eating;
- Try speaking to a counselor about your anxieties. If your company doesn’t have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) you can give Online Therapy a try.
Bullying, Harassment, or Name Calling
Believe it or not, these behaviors are not just exhibited by school-age children. It can, and it does happen in the workplace causing a toxic work environment. If the bullying, harassment or name calling is by a supervisor/boss it is absolutely unacceptable and should be reported to Human Resources (HR) right away. What should you do if this is happening where you work? If the offender(s) is not your boss, you should report it to them immediately. If it is your boss, as mentioned above you should report it to HR. If HR is non-responsive you should seek legal support. In the meantime, if it is you who is being bullied, harassed or called names you should ask for an immediate transfer away from the situation.
Gossiping Co-Workers (and Bosses)
I think every workplace has this issue to a degree, however, it can get out of hand. Gossip cuts down on productivity and should be kept to a minimum if allowed at all. It is especially bad if a supervisor or boss participates in the gossip. It can lead to hurt feelings and distrust.
How can you avoid being a part of the office gossip? Walk away without contributing. Take a positive approach. Compliment co-workers on their work ethics, job skills and dedication to getting the job done.
Pressure from your Peers
Are you constantly being pressured to “join us for drinks and dinner”? Or having office parties that you just “have to” participate in? What happens when you say “no thank you?” Are you belittled, or maybe you’re ignored, or talked about behind your back? What can you do? Be straightforward with them. Tell them that your time is your time and you’d prefer not to be out after hours. Maybe suggest that they keep the office parties to a minimum because you really have a lot of work to do. If they don’t like your response that is their problem, not yours. Will they stop ignoring, belittling, or talking about you? Probably not, it’s up to you whether you stay and listen to it.
When negative interactions are more common than positive ones it becomes detrimental to the workplace morale. Making excuses, blaming others, or distrust in everyone, including management creates a toxic environment. If this is a problem where you work the best thing you can do is not to engage in gossip. As long as it doesn’t affect you or your job you should make your intentions known and walk away.
Are you constantly the subject of criticism both publicly and privately at work? If you’re feeling like you can’t speak your mind without being ridiculed you are working in a very toxic environment. It’s recommended that you have a direct conversation with your boss about how they’d like you to communicate your thoughts in order to gain clarity on what they expect from you.
Others Notice a Difference in You
Has your family mentioned that you are more edgy or short-tempered? Have your friends noticed that you’re dropping weight? If so, pay attention to their comments. The effects of a toxic work environment may be more noticeable to others.
One remedy to this situation may be to take into consideration their concerns and make some changes in your work habits. You can’t control what your co-workers say or do however, you can control how you react to it and how you let it affect you.
Fear of Discrimination for a Disability
Are you afraid to discuss your anxiety, stress, depression or other mental health issues with your supervisor and/or boss for fear of discrimination? If so you should be aware that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with physical or mental disabilities cannot be discriminated against at the workplace. It is recommended that you talk to your HR department. However, you should know your rights before you make disclosures. For more information visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Fearing Being Fired
Some offices function (I use this term lightly) under high levels of uncertainty. High turnover rates and constant change make employees anxious. If you’re always “walking on eggshells” you cannot be performing effectively. Again, it’s recommended that you focus on the things you can control such as your work ethics. Become resilient and learn to quickly and easily adapt to change.
You’re Never Really “Out of the Office”
Do you work at home every night? All weekend long? Do you work during your vacation? Always on-call? If you said yes to any or all of these questions you need to slow down, take some time and enjoy your life. How? Unplug! Set boundaries and stick to them. If you’re behind in your work set a schedule where you work one or two nights per week and take the weekends and some vacation time off. Turn off all forms of communication from your job.
Although I realize that most of these scenarios focus on the office environment, I think it’s safe to say that any type of workplace can be toxic if you let it. The important thing to remember is that going to work should not make you anxious, stressed, ill or uncomfortable. If it does then it is time to change things. If you can’t make changes to things that are creating the toxic environment at work then it may be time to change where you work.
All of the stress, anxiety, fear, resentment, etc. take their toll on your mental and physical well being which will cause you more problems in the long run. Be safe my friends.
Tune in next week for Article 2 – Signs that You Can’t Trust Your Boss