Toxic Work Environments
Depression Mental Health Physical Health

A Guide to Deal with Toxic Work Environments

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Toxic Work Environment

Would you describe your workplace as negative, discouraged, or disrespectful? It may be administered in the following manner.

Are you worried about going to work tomorrow?

Workplaces that are toxic can result in high levels of stress, anxiety issues, insomnia, and depression, and the top-most reasons can be:

  • Boss who is hot-tempered,
  • Unreasonable workloads,
  • Malicious co-workers.

Recognizing toxic work environments and knowing when to leave them is important.

A toxic work environment is characterized by these signs.

When you feel psychologically unsafe at work, you are in a toxic workplace. Aggression, unhealthy competition, and negativity are common impressions.

A study published recently defines toxic workplace environments as follows:

  • A manager or coworker’s threatening behavior
  • Personality traits associated with narcissism
  • Leading in an aggressive or offensive manner
  • Having bullies around
  • Harassing behavior
  • Being ostracized

Toxic work environments can be created or contributed to by the following factors:

  • Bosses who set you up for failure by sabotaging your efforts:

They refuse to listen to other opinions because they think they know everything. People who confirm their conclusions are promoted and those who disagree with them are demoted. Also, they tend to play favorites, which is discouraging since it is not usually a performance-based decision. There are obvious advantages that their favorite has, including access to resources or benefits that other people don’t receive.

Aside from this, if you are lucky enough to work on a significant project, and manage to achieve positive outcomes. Then the findings will be presented and responsibility will be taken over by them. Even getting into the room is sometimes not allowed.

  • Micromanagement:

In some short-term situations, micromanagement can be beneficial, especially when training new employees, enhancing the performance of underperforming employees, preventing high-risk situations, and eliminating uncertainty concerning who is responsible.

Micromanagement can, however, be expensive in the long term. Micromanagement can manifest itself as low staff morale, a high turnover rate, and a drop in productivity can be linked with micromanagement. It is a leading cause of resignation among employees due to its negative impacts.

  • An excessive amount of gossip:

Despite appearing harmless, gossip can be devastating to those who unwittingly become its victims. A natural part of working together is getting to know one another through interaction. Business is better when your employees get along.

Over time, though, office gossip can start to creep into idle hours and casual conversations in the office. Unfortunately, it’s a toxic element of working life. A gossipy workplace can endanger productivity, spread paranoia, and obstruct your progress.

  • Behavior that is cliquish:

An employee clique is a group of colleagues with a strong bond that spends most of their time together at work, in addition to socializing outside the workplace. Friendship circles with tight-knit relationships often exclude others.

There are many toxic workplace dramas caused by workplace cliques like gossip, rumors, and bullying. A toxic work culture is caused by cliques, which negatively impact morale, collaboration, and working relationships. It is common for employees to engage in workplace bullying, and cliques can exacerbate it significantly.

  • passive aggressive boss or coworkers:

Passive aggression is the act of indirectly expressing negative feelings without talking about them directly. In other words, passive-aggression involves saying something and doing something else simultaneously. It is usually done in an effort to trip up another individual.

In their inability to directly confront negative feelings and emotions, the individual might realize their behavior, but not know what to do about it. Overly critical, manipulative, passive-aggressive, and credit-taking leadership behaviors can lead to workplace bullying, dissatisfaction at work, emotional distress, and depression, new research suggests.

  • Discrimination or harassment:

Many people report feeling low in self-esteem and lack of satisfaction with their jobs. An employee who is harassed feels violated on both an ethical and a personal level. The exclusion of a harassed employee from the work environment can have negative health effects.

  • Bullying:

The term workplace bullying refers to repeated harassment that is directed at someone in the workplace, and it is characterized by behavior that is done with the conscious intent to harm that person. Aside from this, it also adversely affects the mental and physical well-being of the victim.

  • Working conditions that are unsafe:

A workplace that has unsafe working conditions is one in which all the individuals on the premises are in danger or are in unsafe working conditions. Workplace conditions like these can adversely impact workers’ health and safety, preventing them from performing their jobs effectively.

  • An attitude of disrespect:

A person’s disrespect is not just expressed through the way they are treated or spoken to, but also through their attitude and behavior. Sarcasm, demeaning remarks, and hostile remarks negatively affect productivity, decision-making quality, and the mental and physical health of employees. In addition, it can affect customer relationships negatively.

  • A lack of growth opportunities:

The organization will eventually lose employees if there is no growth. An employee’s engagement depends on their ability to grow. Opportunities such as these go much further than obtaining a higher position; they provide people with the opportunity to grow personally and reach their full potential.

  • Employees who are constantly threatened with termination by their boss:

The threat of losing their job is one of the most effective motivational tools used by companies. Layoff threats and forced ranking are some ways in which they do it explicitly. There are other situations that generate insecurity when managers fail to provide regular feedback or provide incomplete information.

Employing an approach that actively encourages workers to fear for their jobs does not enhance their productivity and competitiveness; in fact, it leads to panic and indecisive behavior.

Psychiatric effects of toxic workplaces

Work takes up a large part of our day for most of us. Having 8 hours of toxic stress can negatively impact your mental well-being.

Psychological strain caused by toxic workplaces, including harassment, bullying, and ostracism, can result in burnout and high levels of stress according to studies.

As a result of this toxicity, counterproductive behavior can be promoted at work and efficiency can be ruined. Disengagement is caused by it, as well as a reduction in productivity, a stifling of creativity, and a high rate of turnover.

Workplace toxicities: Tips for coping

  • Keep this in mind: You’re not responsible for the negativity at work. Even though you can improve the culture at your workplace with a positive attitude and collaborative mindset in certain situations, it doesn’t mean you can do it all.
  • Get out of the work environment during your lunch break: Take your lunch break somewhere you can escape the office. When possible, sit outside in nature.
  • Make sure you set boundaries: Don’t work after hours for no pay or skip lunch. Be sure to let your boss know that you need time off and breaks to recharge so that you can perform your job well.
  • Keep your distance from drama and gossip: Don’t get involved in any drama or gossip. There will be no positive outcome.
  • Don’t lose sight of your goals: Maintain a positive attitude. There will be a time when you won’t be here anymore, and you will go on to bigger and better things in your future.
  • Do something after work to psychologically clear away negativity: Do something after work to raise your vibes. Taking a walk in nature, taking a hot shower, or talking on the phone are all great options.
  • Maintain a close working relationship with a few trusted colleagues: You should keep a few trusted colleagues so you can be supportive and confident.
  • Keep your values intact: You should refrain from responding to someone’s cruelty at work by keeping your values intact. There is no point in escalating the situation.
  • Exercise regularly to help you cope with chronic stress: Learn meditative or yoga practices or engage in daily exercise to cope with chronic stress.
  • Exit strategy: Start looking for new work if the toxic workplace situation does not improve soon.

Find an employer that supports your mental health

Recent workplace changes have been prompted by mental health support, which is encouraging news.

Do toxic work environments have any ways to be improved?

Toxic work environments are harmful to your mental and physical health, just like actual toxins in the air. You can suffer from depression, low self-esteem, and high-stress levels if you stay too long.

Leadership toxicity or company attitudes are beyond your control. You can, however, speak to an HR representative or a trusted manager if it’s only coming from one or two people.

An employee assistance program (EAP) can provide your company with outside help to resolve the issue, in case if required.

In the event that you have no other choice but to stay, try to surround yourself with positivity. Keep your distance from any drama and don’t be a part of any drama. Make plans to get out of the place and focus on your goals outside of work.

When it comes to toxic workplaces, it is never just about a group of toxic people acting out in an outrageous manner. Detoxifying the corrosive workplace can be difficult, but here are a few ways.

1. Organizational work should be pushed down.

The problem of command and control culture is widespread in workplaces, with leaders micromanaging and dictating what to do. It is poisonous. Providing people with a wide range of autonomy and allowing them to do their jobs as they were hired will result in rapid cultural progress.

2. Underperformers need to be addressed immediately.

Make sure you don’t leave cancer unattended for a moment longer. Observing problem children cluttering up the workplace without retribution frustrates high-performers. Give underperformers a short window to rectify their mistakes and do not hesitate to terminate underperformers as needed.

Explicitly establish an accountability culture, requiring everyone to deliver what was asked of them and to contribute positively to the organization’s culture.  

3. Put your openness on the line immediately.

The way to do this is to share information openly, keep an open mind, and encourage others to give their opinion. Communicating in an honest, transparent, and vulnerable manner is also part of this concept. It’s easier for employees to keep it bottled up if they don’t feel comfortable speaking up. As a result, they’ll have endless meetings where they’ll commiserate and complain for hours. That is why a supportive environment is urgently needed to foster the opposite.

4. Care for others authentically instead of being callous.

People cannot contribute to a culture when they feel undervalued and underappreciated on a fundamental level. There are so many toxic behaviors that can be attributed to the feeling that nobody cares about, or for, you. However, leadership that truly cares about employees, their personal growth, and their career development can make such rapid cultural progress. Furthermore, offering awards and recognition, as well as simply making employees feel valued can do this. It is the most out-of-the-ordinary thing on this list, but it is also the most underdone which can have amazing consequences.  

5. Establish clear criteria for the promotion.

Leadership plays favorites and focuses on promoting certain types of employees, and this creates toxic environments. The result is widespread feelings of unfairness. The worst it can do is encourage unhealthy behavior in a desperate attempt to gain attention and move up the ladder. To tackle this situation, establish clear, fair promotion standards and communicate them to all employees to stop this behavior.

6. Add a dash of hope and reality.

Employees who work in toxic environments often feel hopeless or operate in a way that is disconnected from their competitive environment or internal challenges. It needs to be fixed right away. Clearly outline the state of the union and give explanations for why hope is warranted.

Is it safe to continue working in a toxic environment for a long time?

Depending on how you feel after being exposed to the toxicity, you should determine the length of your stay.

You should ask yourself the following questions to determine whether to leave the situation:

  • Do I feel mentally ill as a result of this job?

A new job can be a great solution if you can’t sleep at night and dread every day at your current job.

When you work in a toxic environment, you are constantly stressed, which results in your brain producing a lot of stress hormones, testosterone, and norepinephrine. The fight or flight response can cause high levels of stress, which can negatively impact the health of both the mind and body.

Several studies have shown that depression in the workplace can be triggered by both internal and external factors. In addition to contributing to depression, this can hinder productivity, judgment, and career opportunities.

Moreover, there are also effects of toxic work environments on mental health. These include rumination, sleep disorders, physical pain and discomfort, changes in appetite, feeling exhausted, lethargic, and agitated, as well as cognitive impairment and intolerance. Health problems associated with toxic work environments are not minor.

  • What is the extent of this problem?

Are there a few individuals involved or is it a company-wide issue? A trusted manager or HR professional might be able to help you if you believe it’s only a temporary issue.

  • Does the leadership pose a toxic threat?

Leaving soon would be a good idea if that’s the case. As leadership is the main aspect on which the whole life and environment of the workplace depend, so if, leaders are toxic, what you can expect from this sort of workplace? Consequently, it’s never too late, just leave the place when you encounter this issue.

A toxic leadership style can negatively affect both the organization and its employees, which can lead to workplace unrest, unsatisfactory performance, a feel-bad attitude, a negative corporate culture, and high employee stress levels. Toxic leaders and their followers have complex relationships, but benefit maximization plays a role in their relationship. For the purpose of controlling the workplace environment, toxic leaders may try to entrust their employees to passive and obedient behaviors. Followers can also view poisonous (toxic) leaders as tough, self-sufficient, and even dictatorial, a perception that can provide psychological comfort. Toxic leadership, however, can have detrimental psychological, emotional, and physical effects on those who follow it. Toxic leaders are infamous for bullying at work, one of their most prevalent behaviors.

  • Are you being harassed by someone sexually?

You should go to HR and document all incidents of sexual harassment you encounter at work.

It’s okay to confront your harasser if you feel comfortable doing so. Attempt to get the person to stop. Describe your point using specific examples. You should make a written record of your conversation with the harasser, as well as what the harasser responded to.

You can report sexual harassment in your company’s policy if you are uncomfortable confronting your harasser, or if you don’t want to confront them. To be clear and specific, use your detailed notes to explain what happened. You should follow up verbally reported incidents of sexual harassment with a letter or email acknowledging that the incident was reported.

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