5 Signs You’re In A Toxic Workplace And How To Handle It

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Feb. 8 2023, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Work gets stressful for everyone, however, you could be in a toxic situation if you’re constantly miserable at work. Here are the five signs of a toxic workplace and how to address the situation:

1. No Work/Life Balance

One red flag you’ll often see soon after starting a new job is the lack of work-life balance.

Being away from work doesn’t just mean physically. It’s hard to wind down mentally if you’re trying to relax at home and are still getting messages from your boss or co-workers. It shows that other people in your workplace don’t adhere to boundaries.

It’s one thing for someone to send an email on occasion after work hours. However, it’s unacceptable to face criticism for not responding to or receiving work-related calls or text messages. Research shows that 58% of employees leave their job due to pressure from a manager, including communication after hours.

Initially, you may refrain from saying something since you want to fit in the new environment. However, this outside communication disrespects your time and shows disorganization by leadership.

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2. Low Morale

Everyone has days they don’t want to go to work, but there’s a problem if this happens every day.

Morale is low if your office has a lingering sense of stress or doom. Employees that aren’t happy to be in the office are less likely to stay. The negativity takes a mental toll when someone needs the job and can’t leave, and this feeling affects others.

There are ways to improve morale, but it will not end well if leadership isn’t committed to helping.

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3. No Positive Feedback

People need reassurance that work is not in vain. A healthy environment provides as much positive feedback as constructive criticism. Bosses who only provide criticism without appreciating what you do could create a toxic environment.

People need to feel like the work they do matters. Employees won’t feel confident if they have to brace themselves for criticism on every project they complete. It creates a hostile environment, with everyone feeling broken or defensive.

4. Mansplaining

Let’s face it: It’s 2023 and there is still sexism in the workplace. It’s hard to be a working woman facing unequal pay and old-fashioned ideals.

A male leader or colleague who is passive-aggressive or tries to “mansplain” to the women they work with is a recipe for disaster. No woman wants to be in an environment where people look down on her. No matter your confidence level, being in an unhealthy environment every day is mentally taxing.

A company is unlikely to thrive with these attitudes. You don’t need to hang around to find out if yours will improve once you find a new opportunity.

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5. No Advancement Opportunities

The final major sign that you’re in a toxic work environment is no opportunity to advance.

A positive work environment wants its employees to grow with the company. You should see a progression path from your job to a higher, better-paying position.

No path of advancement is a sign that leaders don’t want their employees to experience growth and success within their organization.

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How To Handle A Toxic Work Environment

Simple: quit. Just kidding.

The truth is, leaving your job isn’t always an option, especially if you have a family at home or no other source of income. Searching for a new position that’s fulfilling takes time and effort. In the meantime, there are ways to cope better with the environment you’re in.

  • Talk to someone: Any worthy company has a human resources department or representative that serves as a mediator between you and your employer. Address any significant concerns about your job, especially if you feel another employee or leadership mistreats you. If you don’t feel comfortable going that route, venting to a therapist, partner or friend can help you release your feelings at the end of a hard day.

  • Take a vacation: Sometimes, just getting away to recharge can greatly affect your ability to cope at work. Go somewhere relaxing where you can focus on your wellness, like a spa ranch or beachside bungalow.

  • Get outside: Don’t stay inside for your breaks, no matter how short. Sunshine and fresh air away from the chaos can relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood and make it easier to cope with the rest of the day. Invite some co-workers to do it with you so you can discuss the day’s events and support one another.

  • Invest in education: For many industries, getting a new certification or two can help you jump in status or pay as you search for a new job. A few minutes of research could help you know which qualifications help you move forward. Taking the time to invest in these opportunities could pay off.

Working in a toxic environment is hard for anyone. Identifying you’re in a bad situation is the first step in managing it in the best way possible. It’s not your fault, but there are things you can do to make staying there manageable until a larger change occurs.

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By: Mia Barnes

Mia Barnes is a health journalist with over 3+ years of experience specializing in workplace wellness. Mia believes knowledge is power. As the Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, Mia's goal is to cover relevant topics to empower women through information.

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