Sumit got placed in a company in the last semester. He did his internship in a software company and considering his performance, the company hired him. He was happy. He was working on projects and was enjoying his newly started professional life. However, Sumit slowly started to feel less confident. He had some great ideas but his manager started feeling insecure about it. He started ignoring Sumit and quite often bullied him. He gradually became a "yes sir" person instead of puting forward his creative ideas and thought this is how the corporate world works. He also lost his work-life balance after 6 months and with a lot of work load, his mental health started detoriating.
A toxic workplace goes beyond a job you hate.
It not just affects one’s career growth but also hampers the peace of mind.
We all have Monday blues, disappointing weeks, and challenging months. But you can manage them. Factors such as project deadlines, month-end sales target and report submissions make some weeks challenging and it is absolutely fine and absolutely normal.
However, a toxic work environment is about having repeated frustrating and disappointing days, weeks and months. Anywhere you look around,there are red flags all over. The gossip culture, blame games, scope creeps, managers calling at midnight to sort out a problem are some of the red flags that you should not take lightly.
According to a survey, ¼ of employees believe their workplace to be highly toxic.
Here are a few signs to look out for, to know if your work environment is toxic-
a) Employee’s inputs are invalidated and unfair employee policies
When employees speak up and share their opinions, managers and co-workers don’t listen or acknowledge them.
Employees are a source to know day-to-day issues and to suggest solutions to the problem. If the employee’s opinions aren’t being valued or prioritized it’s a sign that the workplace is toxic.
The environment where rules don’t apply to selective people, bosses ,have their favourites or have no transparency in communication, creates a hostile environment.
A few examples of poor communication can be passive-aggressive communication, shaky communication, lack of clarity about projects, off-hour communication.
b) Gossips, rumors, and bullying
Some work settings feel more like gossip-filled high schools with cliques not letting others be a part of their group and understanding inside jokes. Gossips and rumor spreading shows that the team has no regard for the wellbeing and privacy of employees and co-workers. Workplace bullying can be verbal, physical, and/or psychological abuse. Facilitating an environment that breeds bullying to prosper affects victims.
c) Narcissistic leadership
Narcissistic leadership tendencies include lack of empathy, manifesting self-interest, and lack of self-awareness. It becomes very difficult to reason and even coexists with such leaders.
Sometimes bad bosses are a result of their bad bosses pointing towards a generational hierarchy of bad leadership in the organization.
d) No work-life balance
The significance of having a work-life balance has increased during the covid-19 pandemic. You need to be able to turn off slack notifications or not reply to emails after working hours.
With the added pressure of the pandemic where the virus mutates its self continuously it has become intolerable to work with companies that want employees to sacrifice their wellbeing in the name of work.
Work-life balance is essential no one should be expected to be available around the clock. Burnouts are common in firms where more helping hands aren’t hiring and instead, present employees are bombarded with extra work.
e) Stunted growth
If you feel your workplace doesn’t promote your growth then it's toxic for you. If the workplace doesn’t invest in employees' growth and advance their skills and learning then it’s time to change soils.
Even if you once found your job to be rewarding and can’t find something good or growth there for you. The workplace might be toxic for you now.
Ways to deal with a toxic work environment:
Research by Lund University, Sweden showed that toxicity in the workplace has increased over the past 20years which contributes to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental illness.
Talk to HR or your leaders about the problems you are facing. The conversation should end with having a mutually beneficial solution. If the conversation doesn’t go well and there seems to be no change in the workplace you should start planning to quit.
The exit plan can take time to implement like finding a new job or transferring to a different branch or department. The plan may span over months but it is important to note that a work environment that helps you grow, makes you feel included is good for your mental health. Till the time your plan works, if you feel gossip and rumors are being spread instead of having a neutral response try to change the topic.
Find ways for relaxing yourself it can be anything from long walks to mindfulness techniques. The point of this is even if your 9-5 job is frustrating and toxic you have something to look forward to.