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3 Toxic Workplace Signs You Should Be Aware Of

Most people start off a new job starry-eyed and optimistic at the prospect of a new and  exciting job environment, one that would hopefully be better than the last. However, such expectations based on interactions with your new bosses and the office during the initial interview process might not actually paint the full picture. Look out for these signs of a toxic workplace to protect yourself against emotional stress and possible burn out.

  1. High turnover rate or frequent absenteeism

The most overt, tell-tale sign of a toxic workplace is when you find out your colleagues are submitting their resignation letters left, right and centre. Couple this with stories of people being overworked till midnight on a daily basis, being forced to skip lunch regularly, and others taking frequent MCs – you can just tell that there’s something not quite right. Moreover, when companies take a prolonged period to replace these members of staff, the extra workload gets passed on to the rest of the team in the meantime, making the atmosphere even more stressful and pressed for resources.

  1. Workplace politics and drama

Navigating office politics takes a lot of energy and adds an extra layer of unnecessary stress, despite your best efforts to just focus on the job itself. Unfortunately, in office cultures where it is necessary to play games, suck up to your bosses or participate in office gossip just to be accepted and recognised, it can leave you feeling paranoid and tired from always trying to play catch-up. Make sure to document your work in email threads and always leave a paper trail in case you find yourself in a situation where you have to defend yourself should someone in the team try to throw you under the bus or backstab you.

  1. Bringing home “emotional” work

Sometimes work can be very busy and you might find yourself bringing work home to meet deadlines. This is unavoidable especially during peak seasons, such as closer to the end of the financial year when everyone is trying to hit their targets. But keep a close eye out for when your work woes start to seep into your personal life and cause you emotional stress. Examples how this might manifest is that you can’t stop thinking about work even in your free time (when not rushing deadlines), you are anxious or scared about going back into office on Monday, or you start having bad dreams or even nightmares about work.

In the above scenarios, what you can do is to take a step back and draw mental boundaries between work and personal life to protect your mental health and career. This is pertinent in environments where employers are not open to feedback and you are not in the position to quit anytime soon. When possible, astutely reach out to people in similar positions and try to get a support group for such issues so that you do not feel alone and helpless. Otherwise, you might be better off dusting off your resume and continuing your job hunt for a less toxic work environment instead.

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