Are you trapped in a toxic work environment?

Trapped in a toxic work environment? Happens to many without realizing it. A toxic workplace can be a journey of stress and mental disturbance and can impact your life negatively.

What is a toxic work environment?

A toxic work environment is where a great deal of manipulation, bullying directly or indirectly, high stress levels, infighting and blame shifting takes place on a daily basis.

In a toxic work environment, you don’t feel valued rather undervalued and exploited as opposed to being encouraged and motivated.

It could be the action of one individual or the collective experience which captures the culture of the workplace.

Signs of a toxic work place –

Often, there are tell- tale signs of a toxic work environment.

These are some signs to watch out for.

toxic work environment
  • Lack of trust – Typically in the toxic work place, there is no trust or confidence. It is each man or woman for himself or herself. Micro management is brutal while delegating is no existent. If it does exist, it takes place with a blame game.
  • Manifestations of negativity – Negativity is present round the clock and erupts in various ways such as bullying, favouritism, gossip and discrimination.
  • Lack of clear and consistent communication – There will be no feed -back, no response to any kind of action and unspecific expectations that were not clearly explained. Miscommunication often happens and although you have not been given instructions, questions will be asked as to why a task didn’t get done.
  • Unhealthy work life balance – There is pressure to be made available 24/7 and demands on your time away from work. Leaving the office even though you are done with the work day, will make you feel guilty. Weekends will mean you are expected to attend to work and you are expected to work during vacations as well.
  • Poor leadership –  Avoidance of taking decisions, lack of transparency, no adherence to taking specific and measure decisions – these capture the essence of the toxic workplace where those in authority do not display leadership qualities.

The damaging effects of a toxic workplace on yourself –

Often, those working in toxic environments typically project negative mental wellness and suffer from anxiety, depression and negativism. They suffer from emotional damage and psychological disorders that sometimes call for professional treatment.

They will not be motivated at work and their work will suffer from constant pressure. Some face sleep disturbances and are unable to give themselves the space needed to overcome these.

How do you identify a toxic work environment?

Assess the situation for yourself – Reflect on the experiences you have faced. The negativity that has been a part of your work life consistently. Discuss with colleagues if possible. You can then choose to deal with the toxicity either through leaving the job or if possible, look for remedial measures.

Observe Patterns – toxic work environment

It is easy to see patterns emerge in a toxic workplace. Blame games, lack of leadership, exploitation, recurring issues, critical attitude are some of the obvious patterns. There can be psychological bullying and strong arm tactics towards weaker, softer employees.

Compare the circumstances with other companies –

On comparison with others, you will be able to see just how negative things are. Toxicity that extends to career development, daily work schedules and employee morale is indeed one that will be woefully lacking when compared against competition. 

Get advice on how to navigate –

If you can reach out to resources outside or at a higher level, might be a good idea to seek ways to navigate the negativity. Not everyone can leave a job at once due to various commitments so if you can seek ways to improve the situation, it would be a good idea to reach out for help.

How to overcome a toxic work environment –

How do you deal with a toxic workplace?  There are many ways to do this.

Developing a copying mechanism –

It is a good idea to be able to switch off once you leave office. This could help you deal with a high level of stress that can be the result of working in a toxic office situation. Or choose to engage in a hobby or work out once you leave office to let the stress out.

Getting evidence to support interventions –

Document the instances where you have been harassed. Get evidence on when and where your integrity has been compromised or questioned. Gather the data needed for you to complain to higher authority or to cover yourself in case you are blamed for something you did not do.

Seeking support –

You can seek advice on how the situation can be changed or professional counselling on steps that can be taken to change the status quo. For some people, workplace stress can be very damaging to their personal wellbeing.

Consider external options –

If nothing works out and the situation doesn’t change, you can consider leaving. But not before you have made the right plans and taken the right steps to make your exist a healthy one for yourself.

What can you do to turn around a toxic workplace?

Organizations can put in place strategies that can help turn around a toxic work culture.

Firstly, it is important to take stock of what is going wrong. Identify gaps and address concerns however small you may think they maybe. Once you identify the causes you can recommend and take action on how should be addressed.

Setting boundaries between work and personal space is vital to ensure the toxicity does not follow the individual. A positive work life balance will allow employees to feel valued and encouraged.

Taking action to ensure the workplace generates positive vibes is vital for the success of the company and the people.