By Mia Casey
When you spend roughly a third of your life working, it’s important that your workplace is helping build you up rather than tear you down – both professionally, and mentally. Having a positive work environment is so important, and when we find ourselves in jobs that are verging on soul sucking, then there’s clearly a bit of a problem. But how do you know whether your workplace is a toxic one? And when is alright to run for the hills?
1. The dread
If you wake up in the morning absolutely dreading going to work, then this is a pretty obvious sign that you’re not in a good place. Soon, it may seem as though your entire life is structured around when you have to work, and everything else feels like a brief distraction before you’re forced to go back.
If this sounds familiar, then it’s time to start considering whether to leave for greener pastures. If you can’t afford to leave straight away, give yourself a rough timeframe for when you want to be out and start working on getting your application up to scratch so you can hit the ground running.
2. The stress
If you’re losing sleep, constantly feel like you don’t have any energy, neglecting your health (by eating poorly, having to work when sick, not having time for doctors’ appointments etc.), or little things are getting to you, then it’s time to get out. Stress of this degree can lead to burnout, and if you ignore it you could find yourself bed-ridden or in hospital (trust me, it happens!).
Work is meant to keep you active, improve your skills, help you forge new relationships, and let you work on what you’re passionate about. When you’re not getting any of these benefits, and are instead slowly being run-down, then you’re in a toxic workplace and, in the long run, it may not be worth sticking it out.
3. The monotony
Some jobs require you to complete the same tasks over and over again – which is fine if that’s what you signed up for. If, when you started the job, you were told you would be given the opportunity to expand your skills and try new things, but then find yourself doing menial work for months after the fact, then there’s an issue.
If you haven’t already, follow it up with your supervisor or manager and ask for a wider breadth of work. If, after following up a number of times and being told that you’d be given more work, there still hasn’t been a change then hey, you can start thinking of moving on.
4. The hours
When you sign an employment contract, it’s usually for a number of set hours each week. Obviously some weeks you may work a bit more or a bit less, but if you’re continuously being expected to work back late and feel like you can’t speak up or say no, you’re right to think about quitting. Particularly if your pay isn’t reflecting the extra hours you’re working.
When possible, always have a chat with your manager about any issues first, but in the end it’s your life and you don’t want to be spending it all at work!
5. The culture
Finally, one of the most pervasive issues many workplaces face is a negative workplace culture. This one is difficult because it can be hard to put your finger on what’s making you unhappy. Usually, it’s a culmination of lots of little things that builds up into one big ‘no thanks!’ Poor workplace culture includes a lack of positive reinforcement or appreciation, communication that is terse or stilted, a lack of basic workplace wellness initiatives (such as services supporting mental health, an open door policy for employees to chat with managers, or encouragement of self-care principles), or when time in the office is more valued than employee health or wellbeing.
You can try suggesting a few things to try out around the office, or even start initiating employee outings after work to build comradery and increase morale, but ultimately if nothing is being done by the powers that be then it’s going to be a slow change. If this negative culture is bumming you out on the daily, then my friend, it may be time to leave.
Ultimately, companies are built on the relationships between people, and if you’re not being treated with respect or forethought then you’re not in a great relationship! As long as you are sensible and discuss your issues with your manager first, avoid burning bridges with a dramatic exit, and you’ve got your resume up to date and ready to go (or even find a new job before you leave), then you’ve tried your best. Your mental health and general wellbeing is too important to risk on a daily basis so don’t feel guilty if it’s time to move on from a toxic job. And hey, you never know what life’s going to throw at you – your next job could be your dream job!
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash