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Are You in a Toxic Workplace?

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Are You in a Toxic Workplace?

Stressed businessman governed by puppeteer hands

Every workplace has its own struggles and stressors, however when it goes beyond stress into toxicity more than your work suffers.

Physical Health

When working in a toxic work environment for a prolonged amount of time it can contribute to serious health repercussions. Some of the physical health concerns could include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Insomnia or waking up multiple times throughout the night
  • Nightmares
  • Ulcers
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Weight Gain
  • Weight Loss
  • High Blood-Pressure
  • Increase in addictive behaviors (ie: smoking)
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer

The list goes on and on

Emotional/Mental Health

In addition to physical health, your mental health can suffer as well. Some mental health struggles that could be caused or contributed to by a toxic workplace include:

  •  Anxiety
  •  Depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (yes, toxic work environments CAN contribute to PTSD – even if you are not in the military)
  •  Hyper vigilance
  •  Low Self-esteem
  •  Hopelessness
  •  Lack in work-life balance
  • Again, the list goes on and on


Is YOUR Work Environment Toxic?

Below is a list of 10 signs that your workplace is toxic as provided by the Inner Medicine Publishing website.

1. Chronic High Stress – The work is intense on a fairly ongoing basis with few periods of “downtime” to recover. Or, there is a culture of fear or bullying that contributes to chronic high stress.

2. Low Morale – You and many other employees are in a bad mood frequently. There’s little enthusiasm or joy.

3. Lack of Work-Life Balance – The organization wants to own you. You regularly work more than 40 hours per week and work cuts into your other commitments. You’re forced to choose between having a life and having your job. Your employer really doesn’t view you as a human being but as a factor of productivity.

4. Increased Physical and Emotional Illness – You and your coworkers develop stress-related physical and/or emotional illnesses. These illnesses can run the gamut from musculoskeletal problems, gastrointestinal upsets, anxiety and depression, to autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.

5. Unrealistic Expectations – You’re put in a situation that sets you up to fail and burn out. The workload and expectations are unreasonable for one human being, but nobody seems to care.

6. Lack of Loyalty – On your first day at work, you sign an at-will employment contract that gives the organization the right to fire you at any time for any reason. You’ve effectively just been told that you don’t have a permanent relationship with your employer, which sets the stage for a relationship built on lack of loyalty and trust.

7. Immature Leadership – Toxic workplaces are fueled by immature, dysfunctional leaders. Such leaders share some of the following characteristics:

  • Coldness and emotional distance or, excessive emotionality and reactivity
  • Unreasonable expectations for productivity and goals
  • Conflict avoidance
  • Unwillingness to listen to others
  • Lack of empathy and support – i.e. – expects employees to come to work even when ill
  • Poor communication
  • High aggression, intimidation or bullying – instilling fear in others
  • Lack of morality – the leader’s or organization’s goals are sought at the expense of human welfare and decency
  • Hypocritical – doesn’t walk the talk, for example- says he or she embraces “teamwork,” “good communication,” “trust,” etc but displays behavior that contradicts his or her talk.


8. Pervasive Poor Communication – You don’t get much feedback on your performance, you get only negative feedback, or you’re left out of the loop and don’t know what’s going on.

9. Scapegoating – Mistakes are explained by blaming others. Employees are belittled; high performers are criticized for incompetence, and employees that leave are blamed for poor performance. Bullying leaders are tolerated and even admired. The Human Resource Department may even be intimidated by the bully or lacks expertise on how to deal with the situation.

10. Dysfunctional Relationships – There are widespread dysfunctional dynamics such as:

  • Cliquishness, “insiders and outsiders” rather than unification and teamwork
  • Favoritism
  • Insincere communication
  • Long-term grudge-holding
  • Back-biting and pitting coworkers against each other
  • Criticizing others before asking questions

I Think I Have a Toxic Workplace – What Do I Do?


If you can identify with one or more of the aforementioned signs my advice would be to QUIT now! You don’t deserve to be treated that way just to make ends meet.

BUT, I do recognize that this may not always be a realistic option for everyone. Therefore, here are a few ideas that may be help until you CAN quit (preferably ASAP).

  1. BOUNDARIES – This may be the most important and the most difficult to achieve. You need to create boundaries that help you to remember that there is life outside of your job. For example:  Decide on a specific time that you are going to leave work, and leave – no matter what!

  2. Self-care – It is important to remember to pay attention to what you body needs, physically and emotionally. Especially since toxic jobs tend to “suck the life out of you”.

  3. Sleep at least 6-8 hours a night

  4. See a therapist, having a neutral party that can give you that extra support is priceless!

  5. Surround  yourself with compassionate people who have the patience to listen to all of your work horror stories and then give you a great big hug!

Commentaries (2)

  1. Oh my goodness! Great info…hope people “listen” to these words… update your Resume and get it out there–take the first step… “Boundaries” and “a plan”, and hugs are ALWAYS good! 🙂

    Love this one!

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