What To Do When You Have A Toxic Work Environment

Reviewed by Melinda (Santa) Gladden, LCSW

Published 12/10/2020

Work is something that is going to be challenging even under the best circumstances. When you are working for a company that does not have a positive work environment, then it is going to be even harder. If you have a toxic work environment right now, then you might be worried about how you should proceed. What can you do to ensure that you are successful even when you have a toxic work environment?

Keep reading to learn about toxic work environments and what you can do to overcome them. It might be possible to make certain changes that will put you in a better position. You might also want to consider making life changes if it is possible to do so. Once you have examined the information, it will be much easier to figure out what you want to do. You will be able to make a solid decision that will help you to live the life that you want.

Determine How Toxic Your Workplace Is

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The first thing that you should try to do is determine how toxic your workplace truly is. You can look out for various signs of a toxic workplace to see if your company fits the definition. What is a toxic work environment? Well, a place treats employees poorly and makes it tougher for them to do their jobs. Most definitions of the term “toxic workplace” mention that it involves a lot of drama and fighting among employees.

If you are working in a toxic workplace, then you might be constantly arguing or fighting with others over work matters. The issues that people have with each other can actually make it less likely that you will be able to get things done. Productivity takes a huge hit in toxic workplaces, and this makes it that much tougher to keep your head up. Your daily responsibilities become that much harder to accomplish because you have so much resistance from within the company.

A toxic workplace is not going to be very efficient at all because of all of the fighting and problems. Working in an environment like this can also be very taxing on your mental health. You might notice that you will start to feel anxious or depressed over time. When you start to suffer because of your work environment, it is going to be tough to want to keep on moving forward. That is why many people leave toxic workplaces for the sake of their sanity.

What Are the Signs of a Toxic Workplace?

Learning to look out for the signs of a toxic workplace can show you just how bad your current job is. There are many potential signs that will show you that your workplace is not the best. Some of these signs might be obvious while others will be a bit subtler. Once you learn to recognize these, you will be able to figure out more about what you should do.

Bosses That Do not Listen

One thing that every workplace needs are people in charge who are competent. If you do not have good leaders in place, then it is going to be very tough to be able to find any level of success. When your bosses do not listen to employees, then many mistakes are going to be made. Having bosses that do not listen will make employees less likely to report issues that should go up the chain of command. It can lead to even greater workplace strife that will perpetuate a toxic environment.

Corporate Rules That Encourage Backstabbing

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What constitutes a toxic work environment? Well, having corporate rules that encourage employees to stab each other in the back seems like a good start. Some companies try to say that they are promoting a competitive atmosphere to get the best out of everyone, but these winds up becoming toxic fast. If people are encouraged to seek individual success at the expense of others, then it can hurt efficiency while also ruining the work environment. Having a company that encourages teamwork would be so much better.

Lack of Communication

Communication is imperative in any field, and you cannot find success as a company if you do not have good communication. Some companies do not have the right communication methods in place to keep things going smoothly. This can lead to a lot of confusion that will eventually cause people to make big mistakes. Of course, mistakes like this can cause even more fighting when someone needs to take the blame.

High Turnover Rate

Toxic companies will have a very high turnover rate because nobody wants to stay there. If you notice that employees are constantly quitting, then that is a huge sign that you are working in a toxic environment. It might even seem like you are constantly training someone new because of how bad the company is at hanging onto employees. When this is combined with other signs of a toxic work environment, it is easy to see why people do not want to keep working for the company.

Mandatory Overtime and Treating Employees like Numbers

Finally, one of the worst possible toxic work environment characteristics is mandatory overtime. When employees are forced to work overtime, it can take away from their personal lives. Some companies treat employees as if they are numbers and they do not care whether they have a healthy work-life balance. If this describes your place of work, then you might be better off leaving the company soon.

Try to Make Changes to the Workplace

You might actually like some aspects of your current company, and this could make you want to stay. This could mean that you like some of your co-workers or it could be that you really believe in the work that you are doing. In this instance, it would be appropriate to try to make changes to the workplace so that it can become better over time. This might not be simple if you are not in a position of power, though.

Depending on your position in the company, you may or may not be able to influence change in the structure of the company. Either way, you can try to talk to your bosses to let them know about the issues that you have with the way that things are going. If they are willing to listen to your feedback, then it is always possible that things could change for the better. However, it is just best not to get your hopes up if you are working for a particularly toxic company. In some cases, the bosses are a big part of the problem.

Leave and Find a Better Job

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It should come as no surprise to hear that many people will choose to leave a toxic workplace as soon as they are able to. If you do not need to keep your current job, then you might be better off looking for work elsewhere. It is certainly admirable to want to change the company and make it a better place for people to work, but not everyone is going to be able to do this. Some companies might be more resistant to making positive changes than others, too.

If you know that your mental health is suffering because of your toxic work environment, then it makes sense to seek greener pastures. You could go ahead and put out resumes at other companies while you are still working. This is a good option if you do not have the ability to live off your savings during a job hunt. I hope that you will be able to get a job that pays well that will also have a good work environment for you to enjoy. It is definitely worth considering whether you should stay at your current job or leave to find something else that will be worth your time.

Seek the Help of a Therapist

If you are not able to leave your workplace, then you might just want to find a way to cope with what you are going through. It can be helpful to be able to talk to someone who cares when you have had a tough day. This is why so many employees who work in a toxic environment will seek out therapy. Working with a therapist will help you to put your feelings into perspective. You can get help dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression issues that have been brought on due to your job.

Professionals like this are great at helping you to feel better about what you are going through. They can even help you to develop good ways to cope with your toxic environment. If you have been feeling down because of everything that you are going through, then you can feel confident that a therapist can help you out. It is convenient to be able to go to therapy on your days off, and it is even possible to seek out online therapy options if you would like to get help without leaving the house.

If you are not sure whether you need therapy, then perhaps you should take a depression test. Some people do not realize just how tough things have been until they take one of these tests. Even if you are good at pushing your feelings to the side, it is not going to be healthy to ignore the damage that has been done to your mental health. If you are feeling depressed or anxious, then it will be great to work with a therapist to improve things.

NOTES: No changes needed.

  • Does not go against what is clinically accepted.
  • Does not encourage mindsets or practices that may be harmful to the reader.
  • Is factual and up-to-date.