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Is Your Workplace a Toxic Environment?

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Does lunchtime at the office feel like middle school, with the “cool kids” sitting together and gossiping about the rest, including you? Chances are, you do not wish to relive those feelings of exclusion and being an outsider. And, let me guess, communication in the office is subpar, there is no work-life balance, and your boss is a micromanager. All signs point to a toxic workplace.

Here’s what you need to know.  

What Does Toxic Mean?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines toxic as something “very unpleasant or unacceptable” and “causing you a lot of harm and unhappiness over a long period of time.” And that is exactly what happens when you work in a toxic environment: you feel unhappy and wronged.

According to the American Psychological Association’s workplace survey, 19% of respondents consider their workplace to be toxic, and 22% stated that it has had an impact on their mental health. Infighting, intimidation, bullying, harassment, or unreasonable workload are all signs of a toxic work environment.

How Can You Detect Toxicity at Work?

Many factors can negatively affect a workplace.

Inadequate communication

Although communication skills are among the most important skills, not everyone applies them correctly. There may be a complete lack of communication between managers and employees or among peers. Different employees may receive different messages, which creates confusion. Communication around projects may be unclear, insufficient, or scattered, which will affect the end result. Coworkers may treat others with contempt or sarcasm or be passive-aggressive toward them, or even message them after hours or at weekends.

Social exclusion

This is the middle-school cafeteria scenario. Coworkers form cliques and exclude the rest, whom they explicitly gossip about or even bully. These unhealthy interpersonal relationships can lead to burnout and depression.

Bad leadership  

A bad boss is a bad listener, a micromanager, and does not respect boundaries. They do not support their employees’ career growth, nor do they offer learning opportunities, and their criticism is always harsh and non-constructive.

High turnover rate

Bad leadership, lack of direction, low pay, and lack of opportunities to learn and advance lead to demotivation and disillusionment. As a result, employees cannot resign fast enough and find better employment.

No work-life balance

Employees are expected to answer after-hours calls and emails and to prioritize work over their private life. The expectation that they are always available becomes the norm and boundaries around work become blurred.

Its toll on mental health

The constant strain takes a toll on the mental health of employees, as it causes stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, and decreased productivity. Also, the physical symptoms of these conditions start to manifest themselves, like digestive issues or sleep disorders.

Consequences of a Toxic Workplace

  • Disengagement
  • Burnout
  • Stress
  • High turnover
  • Decreased productivity
  • Stifled creativity and innovation

How to Deal with a Toxic Workplace

As an employee, try not to get involved in office drama and gossip. Be sure to set boundaries and not let others bully you into doing things you are not comfortable doing. Stay focused on your goals, but, if nothing works, start planning your exit, i.e., look for another job. Also, practice stress-coping techniques, like yoga or meditation, do physical activity, or take up a hobby.

As a manager, prioritize the well-being of your employees and ensure their work-life balance. Identify toxic team members and involve others in discussions on how to fix the problem, as well as setting clear steps for conflict resolution. Also, make the team feel appreciated by rewarding and recognizing their achievements. Last, but not least, support employee development by providing opportunities for career growth and learning.

How English Services Can Help You Help Your Team

English Services can help you provide learning opportunities, so your team can learn a new language and soft skills, like communication skills. We firmly believe that gamification makes learning fun and effective. That is why we offer Lego Serious Play® workshops to help with team building, language learning, and problem-solving. Get in touch today!