It’s acceptable in our culture to live for the weekends. So many people sludge through their workweek just holding on to the fact that Friday is the beginning of freedom where they can do the things they love or simply relax.
There is nothing inherently wrong with it.
For many, a job is their way to pay for shelter and necessities or to support a family. You may be able to afford to take vacations and luxuries because of your salary. For others, it supports hobbies and entertainment that you enjoy.
For some, it’s a career that they studied for and they find fulfillment in giving back, achieving results or moving up the corporate or non-profit ladder.
Whatever it is that a job provides for you, it is an integral part of life. For some of us, we spend more time at work and with coworkers than we do with family.
However, like anything else in life, it is very possible to use your job in a way that is unhealthy for you physically and mentally.
There are jobs that carry a lot of stress because of the nature of the job and its responsibilities. Being an EMT can carry a lot of stress because you are constantly dealing with people in a heightened emotional state or you have to provide emergency medical intervention which could be life or death. Even with the stress of the position, many find fulfillment and satisfaction from the job itself. There is a problem when your job carries heavy stress and you’re not even saving lives.
What are Toxic Work Environments?
When you hate your job, it may not be because of the work itself. Perhaps you are good at what you do, but you feel undervalued and overlooked. Or, you have a manager who places impossible expectations on you that shouldn’t be humanly possible. You may work in a team, but notice you are the only one expected to execute results while the other people in your department slack off.
Generally, a toxic work environment is less about the work that is being done and more about how the office culture doesn’t support the work that needs to be done.
Sometimes, management creates a toxic work environment either by placing impossible demands on workers or by not providing supportive measures or professional development.
The workers themselves can also create a toxic culture through gossiping, creating office drama, or forming cliques within departments. If you are truly unlucky, you can have both in one office.
How Do You Know You Work in a Toxic Environment?
Some of the hallmarks of a toxic work environment:
• Negative or poor communication. You feel left out of the loop, especially to things that affect your job.
• Being told you should feel lucky to have a job. This is a dismissive and threatening perspective to have regarding employees.
• Policies and Procedures aren’t followed or even clearly known.
• Gossip, rumors and office drama is encouraged and ignored by management.
• Employees have bad attitudes that are allowed to fester. There are massive complaining sessions happening on a regular basis. One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.
• Employees taking a lot of sick days. Chronic stress affects the immune system and leads to employee burnout. If people are constantly sick, that is a sign.
But, the biggest sign that you are in a toxic work environment is how you feel. You wake up dreading going to work every single morning. You feel anxiety before meetings when talking to management and even responding to emails. You play the CC game where you have to add multiple people to your emails just to provide evidence that you did something or didn’t do something.
You are afraid you will miss something when you go home. Or, you log in at home when you are supposed to be off. You can’t even feel at ease while on vacation because you don’t know if you will have a job to come back to. You don’t sleep at night because you are running through a list of things you have to accomplish the next day.
When your relationships and daily life are affected by what is happening at your job, it could mean it is time to make a decision about your job.
It’s okay to prioritize your health over your career. I can tell you for a fact that when you die that they just clear out your office and hire someone else.
My day job is as a Career Counselor and I have tough conversations with people who are depressed because of their job. We come up with a plan of how to start their job search and interview for new jobs. I watch them perk up at just the idea of leaving a job that is emotionally and mentally killing them.
If this is you, it’s time to refresh your resume. Thank the job for all you have learned in terms of experience but seek a job where you feel good going to and from work every day. Your life depends on it.
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