Like all things in life, work comes with the good, the bad and the ugly. And when it comes to being in a toxic work environment, that is about as ugly as it can get.
While it is normal to feel occasional bouts of stress on the job, a toxic work environment can amplify stress to a whole new level by negatively impacting your mental and physical health. According to certified professional coach, Lori Sherwin, the definition of a toxic work environment is a place that “makes you feel uncomfortable, unappreciated, or undervalued.” When work is probably the second place you spend the majority of your time, it should be a safe and happy space much like your own home.
If leaving your current job is not in your immediate future, here are my five ways to turn the tables on a toxic work environment.
Lead the pack.
Fed-up and burnt out employees are less likely to reach out to their managers when they feel there is no hope for things to change or improve. You can help reduce those toxic beliefs by encouraging active communication:
Happen to be in an meeting and all you hear are crickets when it’s time to share feedback or concerns? Speak up on behalf of your colleagues and see if anyone else follows suit. All it takes is one person to break the silence.
Notice an on-going issue that people constantly bring up? Escalate the problem through the appropriate channels for a chance to see change happen. You could be the voice of many by shedding light on a issue maybe management was not aware of.
Avoid office gossip.
While we all might love a good juicy story, there is nothing more toxic than being sucked into office drama and gossip. A recent study shows the negative impacts of office gossip includes erosion of trust and morale, increased anxiety among employees and high turnover of good employees.
While we all have our own personal opinions about the workplace, deter gossipers by keeping opinions to yourself. No good comes out of perpetuating rumors and spreading negative energy in a place where you are probably stressed out enough as is.
Rally your troops.
Having a good support system at work can make any shitty job a little less miserable. A recent study shows that those who have a best friend at work are not only happier but are seven times as likely to be engaged at their job. There’s also something so satisfying about being able to connect, confide and vent with someone else you can trust. However, sometimes it is hard to build meaningful connections with others at work when either the office culture seems to discourage it or people are just to engrossed in their work to bother trying.
Help shape community in a dead or hostile office by suggesting to management a luncheon or sponsored happy hour. And if management is not down for those ideas, organize a function yourself. Doing something outside of the office with other colleagues can help encourage others to make those connections.
Spread the joy.
Overworked employees can often feel their good hard work goes unnoticed – even when the pay is stellar. Improve office morale and make someone’s day by celebrating your colleagues’ accomplishments. Giving a simple compliment, such as letting Jane know she did an amazing job with her recent presentation, can really boost an employee’s motivation to work harder.
Draw the line.
We have all experienced the struggle with work-life balance at some point in our careers. However, if you find yourself bringing home more work-related stress than usual, I ask you to take a step back and tell yourself “pleasure, not pressure.” At the end of the day, work will always be there so why invite negative energy home with you?
Set boundaries such as leaving work at a certain hour no matter what. Be selfish and indulge in your “me time.” Having an outlet that helps you “let go” will make working in a less than ideal environment more tolerable.
Are you currently working in a toxic environment? How do you deal? Share with me below!