Are you currently working in a toxic workplace? Raise your hand if you’ve got someone in your workplace that has toxic energy.
It’s not uncommon. According to a 2019 workplace survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), one in five people who left their jobs cited toxic culture as the reason they departed.
We’ve probably all been there — having to work with a Negative Nellie or a Hateful Harold type of person whose lack of joie de vivre brings others down. The tricky part is realizing how their toxic energy is having a negative impact on you, your self-esteem, your self-worth, and your physical well-being.
What is a toxic work environment?
A toxic work environment is a detrimental setting that significantly affects the well-being and productivity of employees. It is characterized by a pervasive negative atmosphere, where employees constantly experience unhealthy conditions that hinder their professional growth and personal happiness.
This toxic environment is often marked by a variety of factors including fear, hostility, and chronic stress.
In a toxic workplace, employees may face a lack of support and encouragement from their superiors and colleagues. Instead of fostering collaboration and teamwork, there is a prevalent sense of competition and mistrust. This lack of camaraderie leads to a hostile work environment where individuals may resort to manipulative tactics, gossip, and backstabbing to advance their own agendas.
It can instill within employees self-doubt, Imposter Syndrome, and a low sense of self-worth. It can cause burnout and exhaustion to happen faster and more frequently. This type of environment can result in decreased job satisfaction, diminished productivity, and adverse effects on mental and physical health.
Creating a healthy and supportive work environment is crucial for fostering employee engagement, job satisfaction, and overall organizational success. It’s time to reflect on your workplace and see if it might be time for a change.
Here are 10 signs you’re in a toxic workplace and it’s affecting your well-being.
1. There’s poor communication.
There’s either a lack of communication, or the communication you’re receiving lacks clarity and is full of mixed messages. Or worse, you’re exposed to passive-aggressive communication that pushes all of your bad-vibe buttons.
2. Co-workers show exclusive behaviors, or the ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality.
Remember being in high school and the cliques you had to endure? This can be a huge trigger for someone. The feeling of not belonging, being overlooked, or being talked about behind your back can create a whole host of emotional trauma.
3. There’s bad leadership.
When leaders focus on profits over people, they’re not truly valuing employees’ contributions and worth. While profits are important, people make the wheels turn in any organization.
If you’ve got a boss that cares little about your success as part of the overall team, you’ve got a problem.
4. There are unmotivated teams.
When you’ve got folks on your team who are only interested in drawing inside the lines or not willing to go the extra mile, it’s usually because they’re burned out and have had enough. They’ve got nothing left to give. But it can also be from a lack of passion, purpose, or internal drive.
Either way, their lack of motivation is a sign of a much larger organizational issue of disenfranchisement, general distrust, or poor leadership — take your pick.
5. There’s a lack of balance throughout the organization.
The saying “the fish rots from the head down” is true. If you’ve got a senior management team that lacks work-life balance, who are working 20 hours a day and throughout the weekend, you typically see the rest of the organization following that example.
No one wants to disappoint the boss by being unresponsive, right? They’ll tell you, “It’s just the culture here.” But work culture doesn’t have to be toxic or all-in to be productive, cool, and enjoyable.
6. You feel overworked and underappreciated.
Everyone needs a “Nice job!” or “Excellent work!” from time to time. As humans, we thrive on feedback about how to move through the world in a good way.
But if you’re only getting negative feedback or no feedback, it often creates an unconscious drive to work harder to prove yourself to get the praise you’re seeking. This can quickly become a bad habit of overworking and feeling under-appreciated.
7. Burnout is the norm.
In today’s frenetic world, we are constantly being told to push harder and do more with less. The pandemic has only exacerbated this problem with The Great Resignation, as millions of people realized there actually is another way to work and earn a living without killing themselves.
Those left behind are doing twice as much as before with little gain or recognition. All of these wear you down mentally, emotionally, and physically, eventually leading you into a brick wall when you simply run out of steam.
8. There are no boundaries.
Not having boundaries is a welcoming call for toxic behavior to occur. It disregards personal space and emotional well-being. Without setting effective boundaries, employees may face constant intrusions, interruptions, and unrealistic expectations that lead to burnout and stress.
It blurs the line between work and personal life, which causes employees to feel overwhelmed and unable to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
9. There’s no trust.
Having no trust within the workplace is a clear indicator of toxicity, as it destroys healthy relationships and collaboration among colleagues. When trust is gone, individuals become guarded and hesitant to share ideas or provide constructive feedback, which hinder effective communication.
A lack of trust also breeds suspicion and undermines teamwork, leading to a toxic cycle of negativity and conflict.
10. There’s no support for upward movement.
Having no support for upward movement is a sign of a toxic work environment because it indicates a lack of opportunities for professional growth and advancement. Without support, employees may feel stuck in their current roles with limited prospects for promotion or career development.
This may lead to frustration, demotivation, and a sense of stagnation, ultimately impacting their job satisfaction and morale. In a healthy work environment, support for upward movement is crucial as it encourages employees to set and achieve career goals, fosters a sense of purpose and engagement, and promotes a culture of continuous learning and development.
If any of these have been your experience at work, it’s important that you start to notice the impact your toxic workplace has on your mind, heart, and well-being. The long-term ramifications can be stressful and debilitating if left unchecked.
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