Did you know that the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime? For this reason, it is important to understand that you deserve to be happy where you spend ONE THIRD OF YOUR LIFE. It may not be possible to experience complete happiness at work every day, but your workplace should not cause so much distress that it is impacting your quality of life.
While we all can agree that no job is ideal and can relate to having stressful days at work; at some point we normalized toxic work culture and accepted that being miserable at our jobs is just one of the many downsides to adulting.
Yes, as humans our lives will never be absent of adversity and yes, as adults sometimes, we must deal with uncomfortable situations due to financial obligations. I mean, we all have bills, right? But at what point did we transition to the belief that remaining in an uncomfortable work environment for the sake of our finances was…responsible?
Let us examine 6 common signs of a toxic work environment:
1. You dread going to work every day – Now you may be thinking “yeah, but who enjoys going waking up for work every single day?” And the answer is “no one”. Even if you are working in the healthiest of environments most likely there will still be moments where you would rather stay in bed. However, if more days than not, you’re waking up with anxiety or just a deep dread then take that as a sign (from your body, God, higher self, intuition) that you’re most likely working in a toxic work environment.
2. Poor work- life balance- In all things, there must be balance. Most people assume balance means 50/50 however balance does not necessarily mean equal time but rather sufficient time.
Here, a healthy work life balance simply means you allocate sufficient time for work related things and sufficient time for life outside of work. If you’re consistently working earlier and staying later than your normal work hours, frequently expected to be available for work related things or perform work related duties on your off days (answering calls and emails related to work) you may have a poor work life balance.
Sometimes we are the cause for this as some of us are “workaholics” or choose to devote more time than what is necessary towards work things. For some people, work is a form of escapism or avoidance but whew chile, that is another conversation for another day.
Many times, we simply have an employer who does not value a good work life balance and our job is not doable in a normal workday. One big contributor to this is consistent demanding workloads.
3. Drama- We all love tea, especially when it is hot but even tea has its place and it damn sure is not at work. If you work in an environment where there is always mess, drama and gossip then you could very well be working in toxic work environment. One way to work around this is to limit how much you share about your personal life with your coworkers/bosses. Try not to follow each other on social media or engage beyond normal working hours. It’s okay to interact cordially with your coworkers but once you cross certain boundaries, they can’t be uncrossed. You don’t want to put yourself in the crossfires of drama and gossip, unnecessarily do you? Even still, you may be the most private person and find that messy will do as messy does, create mess where there should be none. Many times, it’s not you in the drama but rather drama, mess and gossip happening around you, with your coworkers. Remember tea may be good but even tea can be toxic under the wrong circumstances and work is the wrong circumstance, sis.
4. Lack of training & support- Many times, in toxic work environments you are not professionally trained to satisfy the demands of your job or fully function within your role. Whenever you first start a job and throughout your employment there should be training to ensure you have the tools need to operate competently and with confidence. You may also encounter a lack of support from supervision or coworkers to perform certain tasks. This is common in toxic work environments and if you are not careful, you’ll actually start to interpret this as a deficit on your part. You may even start to doubt your own capabilities. It’s not you, it’s them.
5. Poor policy & procedure definition and enforcement- What does this look like?? Chaos. That’s what it looks like…freaking CHAOS. When you work in environments that either does not have clear policies, policies that are not universally communicated or fairly enforced you start feeling less secure in your position. You may even start to take your job less seriously or feel less confident in your ability to effectively perform your job. People who suffer from anxiety really struggle with this one.
6. Minimal opportunity for growth/being passed up for opportunities- Many toxic work environments do not value the individual growth of their employees and do not support their overall professional development. In these environments you may often see people who are less qualified than you working in positions superior to your own, you may hear of people being compensated more significantly than you despite the fact that you’ve worked longer, have a more competitive skill set and education. If you see this in your environment then you may want to evaluate how long you plan on staying because more times than not, you will start to feel resentful and may even display some passive aggressive behavior (not uncommon in these work settings where you can’t always say what you want and to whom you want) . I say, go somewhere where your talents and expertise will be welcomed and recognized.
Now let us examine just a few ways working in a toxic work environment can affect us:
· Affects relationships with others
· Triggers depression and anxiety
· Can cause long lasting trauma
· Impact your work performance
· Impacts your self-worth/self- esteem
· Start missing work
· Impacts personal life
· Limits personal and professional growth
If you find yourself working in a toxic work environment, you may have thought at one point “it’ll get better” or “I’m going to turn this place around”. That’s cute, but often times the culture of a toxic work environment didn’t occur overnight and may be too complex for you to combat alone or at all. The only guarantee is that if you stay in a toxic environment, it will change you. While there are things you can do to help you cope with your specific experiences such as intentional self-care, taking mental health days, talking with your therapist or engaging on positive self-talk or affirmations for self-worth; you may find that it’s simply time to vibrate to an environment that is healthier and will celebrate you and your contributions. Everyone has a different situation, some people will be able to leave their job more quickly than others, but I find that the first step to liberation in situations like these is the awareness of dysfunction.
Have you ever been in toxic work environment? What was/is your experience? Let's talk about it down below in the comments.
I hope this has been helpful in whatever way it serves you.
Peace, Love & Juice