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Caution: Toxic Work Environment Ahead


Monday through Friday we spend more time with our professional colleagues than our own families. Therefore, it is imperative to our personal well being that our workplace be a positive and fulfilling environment.

Otherwise, we’re spending the majority of our time in a place we consider miserable. Just like any relationship, our relationship with our workplace can either be uplifting and enjoyable or it can be toxic. It’s easy to justify any unhappiness at work by telling yourself “you’ve just had a bad day”;“you’re not enjoying a particular project”; or “it’s just a problem with a certain coworker”. How do you know if your issues with your workplace can be fixed, or if you’re in a toxic work environment?

START AT THE TOP

Most issues with a workplace culture start at the top and work their way down through an entire organization. If those at the top of the food chain are content to bully others and have little concern for employees they supervise, it’s possible such tendencies can make their way through the entire management structure.

Pay attention to the concern upper management has for their employees and their personal lives. Do they just consider you a means to achieve their bottom line? It’s true you’re all working for an end goal to make money. However, if someone can’t take time to show concern for you as a person, they may be contributing to a toxic work environment.

OBSERVE YOUR COWORKERS

Sometimes when you’ve worked at a company long enough, you lose perspective on the general mood of those around you. If everyone is miserable every day, it becomes commonplace, and you don’t think twice about it. Take stock of the general tone while you’re at the office. Is everyone full of complaints and general unhappiness?

Another telltale sign is the retention rate of a company. If your company is a revolving door where everyone is trying to get out, there is probably good reason.

COMMUNICATION ISSUES

Like any good relationship, a good workplace environment is built on communication at all levels. This means your immediate supervisor needs to openly provide clear expectations and feedback. You also need to feel comfortable sharing your concerns and thoughts with this person. A toxic environment can take root when employees feel like no one is listening, and 40 hours a week is a long time to feel that way.

Step back and analyze your workplace with a bird’s eye view. Are your complaints isolated instances you can work past? Or is it part of something bigger? Toxic work environments can easily lead to even bigger personal problems– burnout, mental health issues, and even physical health concerns.

If these internal issues within your workplace aren’t something you’re company is willing to address and improve, it’s probably time to start looking elsewhere. We all deserve a challenging yet uplifting work environment. We invest way too much time at our jobs to accept any less.

For more signs of a toxic work environment click here, here, or here.