Are you aware of the concept of the toxic work environment?
As you’ll gather from the name, it’s not a carefully-designed new system for maximizing work satisfaction and productivity. Rather, it’s an accidental phenomenon that is becoming all too common.
Why ‘toxic’? Because working in such an environment like this can be bad for your health. Not because you’re clearing up spilled chemicals or handling hazardous substances. It could be an office, a shop, a school: the point is that the people around you may be ‘toxic.’ Their negativity literally makes you sick.
Sometimes it’s workplace bullying. Sometimes it’s managerial incompetence
. Other times it’s a lack of trust or of recognition. And often, it’s an unfortunate prevalence of ‘emotional vampires’ who only have negative things to say. It should be no surprise that these different characters are often found in the same workplace, because negativity breeds negativity, incompetence breeds distrust, stress and anger breed bullying.
When you find yourself surrounded by these issues and dreading to go to work, that makes it a toxic work environment. Often the best thing you can do is to quit. But if that’s not an option, you need to look after your own mental and physical health in the meantime while you get the rent paid.
To look after your health:
- Recognize small wins in your personal life and enjoy the sense of achievement.
- Continue to eat well and exercise regularly.
- Never work outside of your allotted hours – even to check your emails.
To protect yourself in the workplace:
- Distance yourself from negative people and be supportive towards those in the same position as you.
- Keep a private record of ‘toxic’ incidents in case there should be a disciplinary hearing.
- Take opportunities to develop your network and professional skills so that moving on becomes an option.