Considering that the average American spends 90,000 hours at work over his lifetime, it makes sense that the workplace should feel like a second home. You should feel comfortable and welcomed there, as well as be surrounded by people you enjoy.
Of course, that’s not always the reality. In fact, 53 percent of all Americans are unhappy at work. While there could be a number of factors for this, I believe that most of it comes down to toxic workplaces.
Unfortunately, worn-down employees have a tendency to slide into complacency — they can’t see how bad their work environment really is. If you spot these nine signs, however, you can be certain that your workplace is toxic and you need to get out fast.
1. You have an unreasonable workload.
Many of us complain that we feel overworked. And while there may be some truth to that, there’s also a difference between having a lot on your plate and being responsible for an unreasonable workload.
For example, while you’re focused on your current assignment, your boss interrupts to dump a new batch of work on you. You’re never going to get to these new tasks because you’re already at max capacity. As a result, you feel like you’re constantly behind and working around the clock to catch up.
Even worse, when you’ve brought this to your boss’s attention, she simply ignores you or refuses requests to reassign something.
Eventually, your stress and anxiety levels will go through the roof. This can lead to harmful side effects like high blood pressure, heart problems, proneness to illness, restlessness, depression, and substance abuse.
2. Bosses are dictators.
Do you believe your boss or manager isn’t a leader, but a dictator who has created a toxic work environment? You know, the type of individual who micromanages, “inspires” you through fear, never makes a mistake, and doesn’t respect his employees? Does he also control when you can take a bathroom break or what you can or can’t do outside the workplace?
In this type of environment, you don’t trust or respect your boss. As a consequence, you aren’t motivated to deliver your best work and become increasingly less engaged and fulfilled. And I’m sure that dealing with such a tyrannical person isn’t good for your stress levels.
3. There’s a lack of communication.
For any workplace to run smoothly and remain productive, there has to be strong communication from the top down — and back up the chain. It prevents confusion and ensures that policies and systems are implemented correctly.
Of course, communication covers a wide range of areas. This includes keeping everyone in the loop regarding important information, giving and receiving performance feedback, and being recognized for your accomplishments. If any of these is missing, your performance (and career trajectory) could be severely impacted.
4. Office drama is the norm.
Is there non-stop gossip? Do rumors spread like wildfire? There’s nothing innocent about that: It can lead to infighting, misunderstandings, and favoritism. Additionally, it can create cliques in the office — instead of friendly competition, the landscape resembles “The Hunger Games.”
A workplace that’s full of drama isn’t good for stress or anxiety. I mean, who wants to spend his days being paranoid about what’s being said behind his back? This type of behavior makes it hard to trust people for even simple things like reports.
5. You notice bullying and harassment.
Whether you’re a bystander or a victim, bullying and harassment are never acceptable in the workplace. And, whether you realize it or not, bullying affects everyone within the organization; subconsciously, we fear it could happen to us.
If you witness anything from name-calling to outright physical abuse, you need to make it known immediately by contacting HR or going directly to the top. And if it’s coming from the top, you have your answer right there.
6. Health issues, absenteeism, and turnover are frequent.
Have you noticed that you and your co-workers are more on edge or constantly coming down with some sort of illness? Has there been a spike in absenteeism? Are more and more people quitting?
These are all common occurrences in a toxic workplace. Unhealthy environments result in unhealthy people. People can only tolerate these conditions for so long before jumping ship.
7. Financial goals haven’t been met.
If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of working for a failing company, you know how stressful and depressing it can be. Not only are you worrying about your daily performance, but you’re also worrying about how you’re going to pay the bills if things fall apart.
Layoffs are a common occurrence. You lay awake at night, fearing you’ll be the next to get axed. Instead of being rewarded with bonuses, a pay raise, or other incentives, your salary gets freezed. How engaged do you think you’ll be when morale is so low?
8. Your gut is telling you something’s wrong.
Don’t ignore your instincts. If your gut’s screaming at you that something seems fishy or you’re constantly asking yourself, “Why am I still here?” it’s time to move on.
Pay close attention to what your body is telling you. Sleepless nights, always feeling a need to be vigilant, and a racing heartbeat are clues that something’s wrong.
When it comes to toxic workplaces, a lot of things are beyond your control. However, you do have control over how you respond, whether that’s talking to a superior or searching for a new job. Ultimately, for your own health, you shouldn’t subject yourself to a toxic workplace. While change is scary, it may be in your best interests to leave a horrendous job behind you — and find a place that will value what you have to offer.