Work: Toxic Environment?

Work: Toxic Environment?

We all have those days at work where we start feeling drained the moment we step into office thinking about the workload we have, or wish we were at home in our bed instead when we are delegated more tasks than we anticipate. Almost everyone has felt a few times when their projects seem to drag on for what seems like forever or has experienced the mid- week rut on a Wednesday or Thursday where they just can’t wait for the weekend. While these are common experiences for someone who is part of a greater organizational structure, the problem begins when these days drag on for weeks which swiftly turn to months and workers are caught in a downward spiral, unable to think about how they reached there and what to do next. When your bad days turn into bad months and you are constantly emotionally, mentally and physically drained going to or even thinking about work, it is time to consider that you may be functioning in a toxic work environment and are now completely burned out. A toxic work environment is one which causes serious disruptions in your life and is a complex interplay between your work atmosphere, colleagues, and your duties and projects. One or a combination of all of these can interfere with your well – being and cause you to feel lost, confused and stuck in the midst of disaster. Performing in such an environment has been proven to have detrimental consequences. On that account, here are some red flags to look out for while evaluating your place of work:

The stress is not limited to your workplace

It is important to keep an eye out for when work stressors start to follow you outside of work as well, disrupting your personal life. If you are constantly feeling like your challenges are on repeat and you are unable to hit pause, even when you are meant to be relaxing or unwinding it is not a good sign. This can also show up as anger outbursts towards family members, constant irritation and unrest as though you know something is wrong but you can’t point at what, and being unable to be fully present and mindful while spending time with friends and family. Similarly, another initial warning sign can be if you are not able to ease or be at peace at any point of the day, no matter where you are or who you are with, as your mind is always preoccupied with thoughts related to your business. This can also include a poor work- life balance wherein you are expected to always be on- call and show up at any hour of the day, thereby making you incapable of having a life outside work.

Cliques and gossiping are common phenomena at work

No one likes feeling alone and excluded. If your peers are constantly making plans post office hours while favouring a few people, spend a lot of time during your work day discussing other colleagues and what they do or even just purport an attitude demonstrating that they are not concerned with anyone other than just a select few whom they like and form the “inner circle”, it can actually be very futile for productivity. While it is extremely important to make strong and dependable connections at work, the behaviour described above can make people feel rather isolated and alienated, making the idea of coming to work itself seem like something they would want to avoid.

Your organization has poor communication

It is rightly said that if your work is communicated correctly to others it is halfway done, making interpersonal skills one of the most important soft skills to run an organization. If you repeatedly find yourself getting different instructions from different individuals, having to repeat yourself continually to be heard, and never being able to find clarity in the duties assigned to you, you need to rethink the sustainability of your job there. It is draining to constantly feel unheard or having to recheck the same material with multiple people at multiple times because the directives lack coherence. Subsequently, chances are that this kind of pattern is extremely difficult to come out of, and the workplace will continue to function in a similar manner, so you should drop hoping for change. 

There is no room for improvement

As human beings we are built for growth and change. Not finding enough opportunities to be able to do that can be very demoralizing and disheartening for workers. Improvement doesn’t only have to be monetary – it can also include a boost in knowledge, understanding or values. While promotions are important reinforcers that motivate employees to succeed, growing personally is equally important. This can often happen if you are repetitively criticized in an unhealthy manner, your opinions and ideas are not taken seriously, or even in cases wherein the company you work for does not undertake other training programs which are necessary for you to develop as a worker. Thriving in such an environment can be close to impossible because not only do you have nothing to look forward to but are also made to feel incapable of changing.

In conclusion, if these signs are spotted, it is never too late to start over and switch to an atmosphere where you can flourish and develop to the best of your ability, advance in what you are good at and prosper while doing the work you love, rather than being tied down by a toxic work environment.  

About the Author

Nishtha Gugnani
Postgraduate Student in Clinical Psychology.

A postgraduate student with a demonstrated history of working with mental health organisations and in clinical setups. With a thorough foundational ed

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