Everyone seemed eager to help when you started your job. Now that you’ve been in your role for a while, things have changed. Maybe your boss raises their voice often or you’ve noticed you’re expected to work longer hours without compensation. Or perhaps your office is full of gossipers who love to complain.
It’s hard to girlboss when your office is full of gaslighters. Let’s explore what makes a workplace toxic and specific signs that you may be in a toxic situation.
What is a toxic workplace?
A toxic workplace refers to an environment marked by significant personal conflicts between those who work there.
Many of us know what it feels like to be stressed at work. But when a workplace is toxic, the feeling is different. The environment makes it challenging to be productive or maintain a positive attitude.
Signs of a toxic workplace
There’s always drama
Regular office gossip, bullying, and rumour-spreading are all telltale signs that your workplace is toxic. While these things may seem harmless in the moment, negative conversations can lead to a lack of trust at work. They say you can gauge the emotional health of a workplace by looking at how people within it interact with one another. It’s a red flag if conversations with your teammates involve more scowling and eye-rolls than well-intentioned jokes or words of encouragement.
There are no boundaries around work
There’s nothing wrong with putting in long hours if you’re well compensated, receive recognition for your hard work, and feel comfortable doing so. However, it’s not normal for your workplace to normalize or glorify a lack of healthy boundaries. Take note if your manager or teammates regularly push themselves to the point of burnout or exhaustion and expect that you do the same. An unsustainable workload that leaves you no room for a personal life is a sign of a toxic workplace.
You feel unsafe at work
If you don’t speak up in meetings out of fear of being mocked or ridiculed, you may be in a toxic environment. If you find yourself upset before or after work because you feel trapped, underappreciated, or are forced into people-pleasing behaviours, it’s time to look for a new job.
What to do when you feel stuck in a toxic workplace
Leaving any workplace is tough, and this is especially true for toxic environments. However, staying in a toxic workplace can lead to burnout, anxiety, and depression, so it’s best to consider your options.
While no one chooses to work in a toxic environment, you can take back your power in these situations. Look internally at how you respond to toxic behaviours, identify what is preventing you from leaving the toxic workplace, and see what role you can play in shifting the situation.
If you’re comfortable, address the point of conflict with a leader at work who you trust. If necessary, you can even seek therapy to understand the impact that the toxic workplace has had on your health and to effectively plan your exit!
Don’t forget to have compassion for yourself throughout the process. You deserve a workplace where you can thrive!