How to Recognize a Toxic Work Environment
As workers, we spend countless hours a week in environments that influence our mood and emotions. Therefore, we need to make sure we are surrounding ourselves with the right atmosphere, people and motivation. Social interaction is essential for maintaining a happy and healthy mind, but if we are stuck in a room with people and bosses who treat us as less than human and make work-life horrible, then it can lead to mental health issues and even lead to serious problems like depression and anxiety.
It is essential to start recognising the signs of a toxic work environment now so that if you ever find yourself in one, you know when to abandon ship and find somewhere much better to work to promote your inner happiness.
Read on for our top three tips on recognising a punitive work environment.
All the Focus is on Mistakes
If you find management discussing your mistakes more often than your accomplishments, even when you know you are working hard, then this is a sign things aren’t going to work out well in this environment for you. Errors do have to be acknowledged, but workers should also be recognised and rewarded for what they are doing right. If management wants to motivate you to continue the excellent work you’ve been doing you need to be praised – as the saying goes ‘a person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected’.
Terrible leadership can lead to many people feeling desperate about their work situation and looking to leave their job to find somewhere else that understands the need for rewards to boost morale.
A punitive work environment has all the workers worried about being called in to see the boss as it can only mean bad things. If you find yourself living each day at work begging not to be called into the boss’ office, then maybe you should consider finding somewhere else to work as often places like this never change.
Bullies Run the Show
Unfortunately, bullies don’t just exist on the school playground, they have very much infested workplaces as well. Bullies often want others to feel less than they are worth and push other people down to get themselves to the top. It is one of the biggest reasons a workplace becomes toxic and can have a hugely detrimental effect on moral and mental health. Workplace leaders who are bullies themselves can make the working environment torture as they use their power to abuse workers.
Bullying is always a sign of a deteriorating workplace, especially when no one steps in to stop it from thriving. If you recognise a bully in your work environment, save yourself time and tears and start looking for somewhere else to work now. In your interviews bring up your experience and see how your potential new bosses would respond to behaviour like this in their workplace.
Try and avoid places that don’t have a zero tolerance policy on bullying; otherwise, you might find yourself back where you began.
We need healthy social interaction and motivation to maintain strong mental health. However, some workplaces deny their workers this and instead treat them like robot workers who can be replaced in a heartbeat if they aren’t devoting everything they have, 100% of the time. This can drain you mentally and physically and make you dread coming into work every day.
Instead, workers should feel free to offer creative suggestions in meetings on how to motivate workers beyond the threat of firing. Not only will this boost morale and make work more fun, but it will also help workers create more engaging and better work as they want to do well for themselves and the company.
If you are in a work environment where you are only valued for the hours you put in and the work you get out then try and see if you can make some changes from within. Suggest new ideas at meetings and get your voice heard. If this doesn’t work, then it seems change will never happen, and there is a more likely chance of you finding a new workplace where you are treated as the person you are rather than a machine good for only churning out work
Mental health is so vital if you want to live a happy and healthy life. Everything around us plays a part in our mental health from our friends and family to the environment we work in. As we spend hours each day at work we should focus more on how our work impacts our mental wellbeing.
Use these tips to look out for signs that your workplace is punitive and toxic before it has too much of a significant effect on your mental health. If you think you would benefit from talking about your workplace issues in therapy, then please contact me for more information on my services.