Unfortunately within todays society, money is quintessentially important to our survival. Unless we are born into riches or we have ultra wealthy parents to support us, the only legitimate way that we can earn money is by working. For the vast majority of people, especially for those surviving pay check to pay check, it is not so easy to give up a job when the workplace suddenly becomes toxic. Here are 8 tips to help you to survive (and hopefully leave) a toxic workplace.
1. Pay attention to red flags;
The first signs that your workplace is becoming toxic is when you start noticing that at the end of each day you are becoming ever more frustrated with your work colleagues and the demands that your work and your boss is putting on you. You may notice that everyone around you is getting lazy and complacent and everyone around you seems to have way more sick days than they used to. Don’t ignore these signs as they are a good indication that your workplace is slowest becoming toxic.
2. Address the elephant in the room;
If your workplace truly is becoming toxic, chances are you are not the only one who has noticed it. If a workplace doesn’t confront its toxicity it will only become worse. Cures for workplace toxicity may include ‘venting’ sessions, team building exercises and regular meetings. Bosses and managers also need to hold themselves and staff accountable for being unproductive, spreading gossip and other malicious tactics designed to spread unhappiness and malcontent3.
3. Seek professional support;
Like I mentioned earlier, not everyone has the luxury of leaving a workplace which has become toxic. Maybe you live in a rural area where jobs are hard to come by. Seeking professional support can help you to better manage your mental health within the toxic environment. Talking to a licensed therapist can also help you to vent and discuss your workplace without always having to bring your ‘baggage’ home with you.
4. Surround yourself with a strong support network;
People who are isolated with a weak support network will find the strains of life much more unbearable than those with strong support networks. Don’t be ashamed to ask friends and family for help and support. If your workplace is putting you under immense strain, asking a friend to look after your kids for a few hours will give you a chance to focus on yourself.
5. Reduce your hours if possible;
If your workplace has become toxic, but you still depend on the money, is reducing your hours an option? The more time you can engage in self-care, by working less hours/days the more resilient you will be within the toxic environment. No matter how bad a day is you can always cheer yourself by thinking about what you will do when you have your next day off.
6. Practice self-care;
This goes hand in hand with the last tip. If you spend your entire day off thinking and worrying about what is happening (or is going to happen) with work, you are not giving yourself a mental break. It is important that you find a way to disengage from work. This may involve turning your phone off, not looking at emails and not interacting with work colleagues. Do something relaxing instead like going to the beach, starting a hobby or even binge watching a new series.
7. Save your money;
This step is going to be tricky for most people but it’s about playing a long game. The less you depend on your job financially, the more freedom you have to leave your job should it become toxic. Likewise, the more money you have saved, the more time you can spend looking for the right workplace for you rather than being pressured into taking the first job that comes along.
8. Seek legal/government advice;
If your workplace is rampant with sexual harassment, abuse and/or violence you may need to consider seeking legal advice or turning to your government for support. Here in Australia we have the government called the ‘Fair Work Ombudsman’ which can help employees with pay disputes, work place bullying, sexual harassment and other work place issues.