Every job has its stressful moments and days that have you reconsidering your decision to stay. But usually, those moments are balanced out with productive days that leave you feeling good about your accomplishments. A pleasant work environment has coworkers who are friendly and supportive, and a boss who appreciates what you contribute to the company. There’s a sense of unity among the employees and respect for the people who are in charge.
But what if your job is negatively impacting your life? Are you often tired, depressed, anxious, or afraid? Nearly one in five workers consider their job environments hostile and toxic to their well-being. Work-related health issues that go beyond general work stress can manifest in physical forms such as insomnia, edginess, sweaty palms, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, frequent stomach aches, ulcers, overeating or loss of appetite, and feeling unsafe at work.
The nine signs that your work environment is toxic to your health include:
1. Poor morale
Coworkers have a negative attitude toward the job and are never happy. They lack enthusiasm and often threaten to quit. The work atmosphere is so stressful that it affects your overall mood.
2. An overbearing boss
This is a narcissist who feels he is above everyone else and expects you to agree with him no matter what. He has little interest in you other than what you can do for him. Impossibly high standards are set, but he is never satisfied with your work. He speaks down to his employees and is quick to point out your errors to others. If he sets specific company rules but rarely follows them himself, chances are you’re dealing with someone who has an enormous ego.
3. Poor communication
Assignments are vague, causing misunderstandings and disappointment, and problems are rarely dealt with in a timely manner. There is also little to no positive feedback or recognition for a job well done. Worse, your boss expects you to appreciate the fact that you have a job and dangles the possibility of being fired if you voice your concerns.
4. High turnover rate
Employees are quickly hired and fired for no apparent reason. This sends a clear message that you are undervalued and easily replaceable.
5. You’re working too much overtime
It’s one thing to work a few hours to pad your income occasionally, but if your boss expects you to be on call 24/7 even when you’re sick or on vacation, he’s taking advantage of you.
6. Your colleagues don’t pull their weight and play the blame game
Are you doing all the work for the team but getting none of the credit? If an assignment fails, are you shouldering the blame? There’s nothing worse than watching your coworkers take credit for work they didn’t do or blaming you for something that was their misdoing. This behavior undermines your credibility and any possibility of advancement within the company.
7. Verbal abuse and bullying
Whether it’s your boss or a coworker, no one has the right to threaten you or verbally bully you with derogatory comments, public shaming, or name-calling.
8. A culture of sexual harassment
You should never be forced to deal with any sexual advances from bosses or colleagues, or be punished (demoted, passed over for promotions, etc.) for refusing to be a part of their irresponsible actions. Their behavior is illegal and should be reported.
9. Your work environment is riddled with gossip, rumors and backstabbing
Colleagues should support one another to promote good relations and positivity. Still, all it takes is one person spreading false rumors to upset the healthy balance you’re trying to achieve in the workplace. Gossip and backstabbing are often rooted in jealousy.
If you’re working with someone who is overly competitive or envious of the accolades you receive, you cannot trust them and need to steer clear whenever possible.
* * *
What can you do to improve your work environment?
Find a colleague who can be a trusted friend and ally. Sometimes having one person to vent to who also has your back is enough to help resolve the problem. But if you’re still unhappy and feel you’re being mistreated, consult human resources. Document all incidents and report the problem. If the workplace environment remains intolerable, plan an exit strategy, and leave the job for something better without burning any bridges on your way out.