So you’re feeling tired, burnout, down in the dumps, and ultimately… drained. If you can attribute most, or all, of these feelings to your job, then you may be in a toxic workplace.
To most of us living that sweet, sweet 9-5 life, work is like our second home. Our coworkers, who we see regularly, become our second family. Work becomes familiar, normal, and sometimes mundane. Work can also be exciting. It can be a place to develop our skills and grow as professionals.
While it’s normal for most of us to experience the usual stress that work brings, it’s not normal for work to be the main stressor in your life. If work is causing you anxiety and depression, you are definitely in a toxic workplace.
However, what are you supposed to do if your toxic workplace is your reliable source of income? We can’t all just decide we’ve had enough and quit without knowing how the next bill will get paid.
While the real solution is to find a new job and move on, realistically we have to work with what we’re given. Here are the 8 signs that you’re in a toxic workplace and some solutions for handling them.
Constantly Being Stressed and Anxious
Like we’ve established, work can definitely be a big stressor in one’s life. It’s where you are most of the day. At work you’re dealing with multiple challenges, tasks, and obstacles. Some of which don’t always go the way you want them or need them to! With that, it’s pretty common to feel stressed out and tired.
The difference about a toxic workplace is that you are constantly feeling overworked and undervalued. Work should never be causing you crippling anxiety or keeping you awake at night.
If you’re feeling stressed and anxious about work-related issues more than 50% of the time, then it’s a good time to reevaluate. Take a step back to determine if work is the root cause of these emotions. Inability to eat or sleep due to workplace stress is a serious concern and should be addressed right away.
Solution: Pinpoint exactly what it is at work that’s causing these stressors and try to eliminate or reduce it. Invest time outside of work for your mental and phsycial health.
Formation of Cliques, Cattiness, Bad-mouthing
Workplace gossip is all too common. Water cooler talk may not exactly happen at the water cooler, but it does happen! There’s also a distinct difference between being frustrated with a coworker and audibly bad-mouthing them to other coworkers. Workplace gossip creates a toxic workplace culture.
One tell-tale sign that a workplace is toxic is if multiple employees are bad-mouthing each other or forming exclusive cliques. If someone is gossiping about a coworker to you, then you better believe they’re gossiping about you as well. The workplace should always be one of inclusiveness.
Pay special attention to upper management. If they are participating in this bad behavior, that is a huge sign of a toxic workplace. A manager, supervisor, CEO, or any of the above should NEVER be gossiping about one employee to another. Those issues should always be addressed with the person in question privately.
Solution: Don’t succumb to the gossip. If someone tries to badmouth an employee to you, and you don’t want to cause conflict, counteract their statement with something positive about that person.
You know them, I know them, we’re all familiar with the infamous micromanager.
Micromanagersomeone with a management style consisting of breathing down the neck of their subordinates to constantly remind them what to do and how to do it.
Micromanagers are one large reason why people are driven out of their companies. How are you ever supposed to learn about your position or work independently when someone is constantly on your back?
A lot of the time, it seems, micromanagers like to point out the negative aspects of your work and have little room for praise or compliments.
The point of learning new skills is to make mistakes and develop from them. If you have a manager that is always on top of you and not giving you those opportunities to learn, then it may be time to move somewhere else.
When a manager makes you feel as though you’re not doing a good enough job, it can easily lead to insecurities and doubts in your abilities.
Solution: Often, micromanagers are the way they are because they are afraid to lose control. If you make a mistake, they can take the heat for it. Open up your communication, and try to ease their worries. The best way to work well with someone is to understand how they operate.
Communication is extremely important for facilitating everyday workplace functions. Not only do you need to communicate between your direct coworkers and your team, but other departments.
Failures in communication can lead to late assignments, panic, and frenzy! What exactly does bad communication look like? Well, it looks like much of the following:
- Haziness around directions
- Being left out of important decisions
- Having to track someone down for information
- Lack of inclusion in general
Unorganized communication is directly correlated with an unorganized business. If everyone’s running around on completely separate pages, then nothing can get done in a timely manner!
Solution: This one’s tough because you can’t make other departments communicate better. The change will be from you. Be in contact with other departments early on to make sure tasks are being completed on time. Keep email records of conversations as well, to cover yourself.
Lack of Support
A lack of support in the workplace is a big sign that you’re working in a toxic environment.
Your coworkers and bosses should be encouraging you to develop your skills. Your coworkers should want to see you succeed and help you each step of the way.
A workplace that lacks support is somewhere that doesn’t want to pay you what you’re worth. Or a boss who won’t give you a good referral when you’re onto the next role.
A good boss will always want to see you succeed, even if your next role is at a new company. Bosses should be like mentors in the workplace. It may seem rare, but there really are some good ones out there.
Solution: If you’re looking for people to cultivate relationships with for future referrals, your direct coworkers are your best friends. Maybe you won’t get a good recommendation from your manager, but your workplace BFF will always have your back.
One of the first signs you’ll see that you’re in a toxic workplace is if there’s rapid turnover. Failure for a company to retain its employees is not a good look.
When several people make the decision to leave their workplace it’s probably for a reason. By noticing that, you may be able to pinpoint a root cause early on in your employment at a toxic workplace.
On the other hand, rapid turnover through firings is another huge sign. If your office is always “getting rid” of people who have disagreements with upper management, that is a bad, bad sign. You never want to be tip-toeing around management just to keep your job.
Solution: Glassdoor is your go-to when searching for new jobs. By using Glassdoor, you can determine a company’s rating even before you apply. It’s a great way to weed out those places you may think aren’t the best fit.
If you do land an interview, it’s a great time for you to feel the company’s vibes. Remember, the interview isn’t just about the employer getting to know the employee. It’s about you getting to know them.
Inability to Advance
At this point in the post, we’ve hopefully established that a toxic workplace is no place to stay long term. That is even more supported when your workplace lacks opportunities for advancement.
There’s no reason to stay in a toxic work environment especially if you won’t be able to work your way up within the company.
If your inability to advance is due to management finding “friends” to fill those internal positions, then look twice. I’m sure we all know someone who was beat out of a position because the hiring manager had a personal preference.
Solution: If you can’t advance into the next role with a better title, advance your skills. What you can do is try to take on more responsibilities outside of your regular ones. By doing this, you’re essentially growing your own resume through new skills.
Other Employees Are Experiencing Burnout
You may not be alone in the game. If you’re in a toxic workplace, then your coworkers are suffering the consequences just as much as you are.
The downside to unmotivated coworkers is that you may end up taking on a lot more of the work to make up for the lack of theirs. This is only going to lead to faster burnout.
Solution: Work to prioritize and delegate tasks. By getting your coworkers back on board, you can help and support each other.
Be sure to check out the Career page for other tips and tricks for succeeding in your professional life.