Everyone has bad days at work. It’s perfectly normal to dread the job from time to time because, after all, it’s a job. You’re not supposed to love every single minute of it, but that doesn’t mean you have to hate it either. Being stuck in a toxic workplace is no fun, even if you get paid a lot of money to be there.
What does it mean to work in a toxic environment?
Things that are toxic are bad for your health; they’re not just annoying or inconvenient. Toxicity means poisonousness, so a toxic workplace is a professional environment wherein you feel contaminated by stress, responsibility, prejudice, injustice, or any other nagging, negative emotion or experience.
Toxic workplaces can steal your inner peace and hinder your productivity on the job. They can also limit your career opportunities by preventing a rightful promotion through default or conflict.
Noxious surroundings can even have a major impact on your mental wellbeing.
The effects of toxic environments seldom stay in the workplace. Instead, they follow you home after clocking out to negatively affect your personal life. Thus, it’s important to recognize trouble ahead of time so you can find a new job if it’s necessary.
10 signs of a toxic workplace
A toxic workplace feels like you’re always facing incredible challenges without catching a break. It consists of constant stress and anxiety, and it usually looks like this:
#1. Poor Communication and Clarity
Many different jobs may expect you to perform at a certain level without much direction or oversight. That’s normal. However, toxic workplaces are often void of empathetic staff with good active listening skills. They can often miss important details that ultimately affect your personal life and daily productivity.
#2. Worker Cliques and Exclusion
Likeminded people tend to gather together like birds of a feather, but that can turn into a toxic situation at a job where teamwork is essential. Many times, employees will form a group based on shared complaints and loyalties, thereby excluding other coworkers that don’t agree with their core values.
#3. Employee Gossip and Rumors
Toxic workplaces can operate a lot like middle and high school, with certain people notorious for making up tall tales and spreading lies for attention. Other staff or management might even participate in the shenanigans, making it even more difficult for any serious employee to do their job efficiently.
#4. Inadequate Leadership
It’s already hard to do your job every day, so it doesn’t help when there’s nobody to hold accountable if something goes wrong. Toxic environments can give people little hope and very few options for escape, with poorly equipped leaders and too much red tape to make any significant changes to policy.
#5. Unmotivated Staff
Look around. Do the other employees appear to enjoy their jobs? If not, it may be a sign that the workplace is a toxic environment. Unmotivated staff usually signifies an inadequate reward system, and is often indicative of underpaid help, bad company policies, or overly strict rules on the job.
#6. Slow Professional Growth
Try to stay away from any job environments that might stifle your ability to learn and grow as a professional. Companies that invest in their workers are typically more efficient overall, so look for advancement opportunities and higher learning prospects such as internships, mentorships, and volunteer services.
#7. Unreasonable Demands
No employer should ever force you to make unreasonable or irrational choices between your personal and professional lives. That’s an especially toxic environment for people with hobbies and/or families to take care of. It’s most harmful when you’re put under unfair pressure to satisfy the job requirements before anything else.
#8. Passion Burnout
The circumstances surrounding your job duties and/or the environment in which you work can play a tremendous role in how excited you are to be there. Toxic workplaces often suck employee motivation dry through constantly exposing them to prolonged periods of stress or with professional exploitation.
#9. Bad Industry Reputation
Reputations aren’t always accurate representations, but a company’s track record among other employees, business partners, or vendors can speak volumes. If your job is constantly on the receiving end of ridicule or litigation, it may be a sign that things are extremely toxic beneath the surface.
#10. Gut Feelings
Your intuition can tell you a lot about the place you work. So, when you’re feeling like something is off, it probably is. In fact, you don’t even need direct proof for this type of toxicity. When a workplace makes you feel indescribably uneasy, it may be wiser to find another job.
How to protect your mental health in a toxic workplace
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