Working in a toxic work environment can have serious effects on your productivity, mental health and overall well-being, even though you enjoy your job. Not only that, but a toxic workplace will impact your out-of-work relationships and your overall career and life outlook.
Determining whether you are employed in a toxic work environment or whether you are actually burnout can often be difficult. There are, however, a few basic telltale indicators that can expose whether or not the workplace is toxic. If you fear going to work for months on end and feel like colleagues are not fighting back at meetings and are just sharing their real feelings behind the scenes, then it’s very possible that you’ve been in a toxic workplace.
For the well-being and the company’s future, surviving and addressing toxicity at work is important. Because of ‘workplace disagreement‘ over what constitutes respectful behaviour, one-third of workers quit a job. This can have a major emotional and economic effect on people who feel they need to job hop to avoid being trapped in a toxic workplace.
Although switching jobs will help you stay safe by staying out of toxic work environments, you can do a few things to tackle the problem head-on.
Here are tips on how to deal positively and constructively with a toxic workplace.
Focusing on the issue, not the person
We mean to keep the person out of the equation when we say non-accusatory language. That immediately causes a defensive reaction when we start calling people out and accusing them of something. When you start pointing out their faults, it would be very difficult to get through to them. Instead, reflect on the issue that their behavior is creating.
Instead of saying, “You never let people share their thoughts in meetings,” you can say, “We all benefit from hearing different points of view during meetings.”
Identify the source of the problem
Leaders can also be responsible for toxicity at work. The ones other workers look up to are managers and executives, and if they are abusive and dismissive, then that conduct becomes appropriate down the chain. Try to observe how colleagues act around each other to see if there’s a source of bad energy in the workplace. Is there a specific individual whose presence makes people feel uncomfortable right away? Maybe they drag down the concepts of other people or try to take credit for the work of someone else? You will help tackle the issue at its roots by identifying the source of this toxic energy.
Holding your feelings in place
You can’t control how others act, but how you react to that behavior can be controlled. Not only does holding your cool under pressure diffuse the situation, but it also makes it easier for you to think and act more clearly. Even if you feel like you have every excuse to, it may reflect badly on you to get emotional.
Try leaving the room the next time you feel upset, so you can cool off. Come back after you’ve reined in your feelings and try to speak calmly about what happened.
Policy Change Proposal
Regardless of the size of your HR department, it is very likely that a busy individual is your HR manager or director. If you want the problems to be addressed earlier rather than later, if you come up with some new ideas about how the organization should handle toxicity in the workplace, it can make a huge difference. For example, with statements such as ‘Get it done‘ and ‘No excuses‘ whether the organization encourages competitiveness and hard work, this can unintentionally establish a very negative corporate culture. It may be that your colleague feels the pressure to win, and that’s why they try to control meetings and conversations.
Think about what improvements in principles or policies can facilitate a better or more collaborative work environment and bring it forward as a suggestion.
Raising a complaint
You may need to resolve the problem more officially if your other attempts are futile. Different companies have numerous grievance processes in effect, so ask HR here for the best solution. You should also present a petition even though there is no formal procedure and ask the organization to correct this in a timely manner. This is an especially important move if part of the issue is the leadership team.
Be firm, but respectful
Keeping away from trouble doesn’t mean you should be silent about the bad actions of others. Over time, unaddressed problems will fester and evolve, leading to even bigger issues down the road. Instead, make sure that when someone’s behavior is out of line, you still speak up. On a daily basis, people who are disrespectful or inconsiderate are not accustomed to being called out, so this will help break the cycle.
Talk to HR
You may need to take this to HR if all your attempts to tackle the problems fall on deaf ears. Company executives will also overlook things that are obviously troublesome for workers because they are not on the ground working with you and your colleagues every day. Try to retain the same attitude you’ve had when dealing with specific colleagues when talking to HR. Try to create a case around what you are trying to suggest instead of pointing fingers – record examples of toxic actions in your work environment and how they impact your work. Try to be part of the solution here by giving feedback and ideas about how HR should step forward to resolve these problems.
Avoid being part of the issue
It’s easy to want to go behind their backs and vent about it to someone when someone threatens you or explicitly spreads lies about you. That would be only adding fuel to the flames, however. Try to defuse the problem by remaining calm and resolving the issue directly, instead of exacerbating the situation by contributing to the problem. Similarly, if a coworker comes to you accusing one of your colleagues for being bossy, suggest that they might have a discussion to fix the problem with them.
It’s hard to deal with a toxic work environment. Its negative effects can cut deep and destroy the very basis on which a business was founded. In building a better future for yourself and helping the business you work for to succeed in the long run, being proactive and tackling toxic habits head-on can be a great move forward.