Is Your Work Environment Toxic?


It’s just a reality in life that most people must work to pay their bills. The daily grind can eventually wear down even the most optimistic people after a while. If you’re lucky, you work in an environment that’s a good fit for your personality type, your coworkers support each other, and you all function together successfully as a team.

But workplace relationships aren’t always healthy. In some cases, you may actually be working in a downright toxic environment. While aggravation and frustration are normal components of any day, the time may come when you must ask yourself if your attitude is the problem, or if your workplace is truly toxic.

Since many people spend more of their time at work than they spend at home with their friends and family, workplaces often become like a second home. This intimacy commonly will lead to relationships in the workplace that can be as complex as personal relationships. Just like a toxic personal relationship, a toxic work environment can thwart your ambitions and harm your sense of emotional well-being.

If you spend a significant amount of your time at work fighting with with your coworkers, struggling to meet expectations, and not getting anywhere, you probably need to analyze your workplace’s dynamics to discern if it’s a toxic environment.

Are the rules fair?

Life isn’t always fair. But when and how supervisors enforce company rules and expectations needs to be the same for all employees. If your boss has certain standards for one group of employees and different standards for another, that’s a significant red flag that you’re working in an unhealthy environment.

Is Business Conducted Above Board?

Activities that are illegal, or a general acceptance of activities that are illegal, are an indicator that you’re not in a healthy workplace. Whether the issue is with illegal accounting practices or illicit drugs, you shouldn’t ever feel pressure to overlook or to participate in activities that are prohibited by law.

Is Abusive Behavior Tolerated?

How do you and your colleagues treat each other? Abusive behavior includes anything from threats of physical violence to sexual harassment or abuse. In a healthy work environment, management will simply not tolerate such actions. You shouldn’t ever feel afraid or intimidated by how colleagues are treating you, even if the behavior is excused as a joke.

Once you come to the understanding that you work in a toxic environment, there are some things you can do to rectify the situation. But you’ll need to ask yourself if you’re willing to address the issues in a face-to-face manner.

Often the ideal way to handle workplace issues is to do it through personal conversations, or by involving your supervisor or the human resources department for assistance. But if you’re concerned about retaliation or you fear for your safety, a confrontation is probably not an advisable course. If you’re in this situation, you need to do what you can to protect yourself when you’re at work, and be certain you keep your resume up-to-date!

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