Toxic Work Environment: 6 Tips To Overcome It

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Did you know that a toxic workplace or non-ideal work environment is more than just a job you hate? Not everyone is lucky to have a pleasant workplace. What is meant by fun here is a work environment that supports employees to be productive, maintaining positive mental health. 

Examples of a comfortable workplace include a work space that supports productivity, a team that supports each other to a leader who carries out his role well. Sounds utopian? Not really. There are some employees who are lucky enough to have this work environment. Others may have to face a toxic work environment, which is usually called a toxic workplace.

However, what a toxic workplace looks like and how to define it is not an easy thing. Fortunately, there is a lot of discussion and conversation regarding the situation, including the idea of changing the workplace to be more transparent and inclusive. 

Apart from that, discussions about toxicity in the world of work are also more open and accessible to everyone. This means that leaders and employees are now more aware of what a toxic work environment looks like, including how to deal with it. This guide will provide you with the latest information regarding toxic workplaces. Let's start with the basics.

What is a toxic workplace?

What is a toxic workplace?
What is a toxic workplace?

A toxic work environment is like repeating all unpleasant situations without pause. There are many forms to describe it, from a passive-aggressive boss, inappropriate comments from coworkers about the person you are replacing, and many others. The boundaries are reduced (or non-existent).

In short, this type of workplace does not provide psychological safety or comfort of any kind. Employees are also more afraid to speak or provide input. The impacts are of course many, including stunted growth to mental fatigue.

So, it can be concluded in general, a toxic workplace environment is an environment where negative behavior, such as manipulation, intimidation, shouting, and so on, is inherent in the organizational culture. This results in a lack of productivity, trust, high levels of stress, fighting, and discrimination.

As previously mentioned, in a toxic workplace, you may feel that you will be punished, humiliated, or rejected for daring to speak up, simply share ideas, express concerns or objections, or appear as yourself at work. Over time, this situation can cause anxiety, depression or even mental and physical exhaustion.

Another negative thing is that this situation creates restlessness, low morale, constant stressors, negativity, illness, high employee turnover, and even bullying. Even worse, a toxic workplace also affects your personal and household life. Take, for example, your conversations with loved ones being disrupted, depriving you of much-needed sleep, and generally causing worry and stress.

What qualifies as a toxic work environment?

So, can your current workplace be said to be a toxic place, or is this all just your feeling? How can you determine whether your workplace is toxic? It's not an easy thing to do. Defining an unhealthy workplace is also complicated considering that there are many characteristics that cause this to happen. 

Additionally, the same environment can also have different impacts on people based on their work history, triggers, and work styles, among other factors. However, there are a number of general characteristics. Some of them can be seen below!

1. Poor communication

Did you know that communication skills are a skill needed to create a successful organization? Communicating itself requires the ability to listen (either as a manager or employee), verbal communication, written communication and many others. Poor organizational skills certainly affect many things. From here, many problems can arise, including the signs that will be mentioned below.

Is there a way to deal with it? Making changes yourself can be the first step. Don't be afraid to ask about details of the project you are involved in, inform the team clearly, and invite the team to discuss actively and passively.

2. The existence of exclusive groups

Have you ever seen a group of employees who are in certain groups in an institution or organization, who spend a lot of their time with unproductive activities, such as gossiping, and full of drama? If so, immediately avoid this group, or get involved with them other than work matters. That's the only way to deal with it.

3. Bad leadership is also a sign of a toxic workplace

There is an idiom "you don't leave a job, you leave a bad boss". This just illustrates that the leadership role of a leader or boss can greatly determine how an organization or company institution works effectively and productively, or not.

Bad leadership is a sign of an unhealthy workplace. If possible, communicate about this problem with HRD or the person concerned directly, if your boss is someone who is open and can be talked to. The reason is, leadership factors are very important in determining how the system can work well and productively.

4. Employees have no motivation

You should not judge the results of work by the quality of the people who do it and the people around them. However, when you are in a work environment filled with employees who no longer have work motivation, it will burden you and prevent you from developing.

This problem can only be faced if you are in a position as a leader. If the situation is not like that, it will be difficult for you to grow and develop.

5. Employee turnover is relatively high

If you notice that there is a relatively high employee turnover rate in a certain period, there is a chance that the work environment in that place cannot be said to be healthy. High levels of employee turnover mean there is a sign of disorganization, lack of direction and good communication, poor leadership or minimal opportunities for promotion.

6. Work-life harmony is not fulfilled

Seeing employees in a company seem to only live their lives at work, even on weekends? Well, it could be that the person concerned is wallowing in a toxic workplace. Especially if the person concerned experiences burnout, aka mental and physical exhaustion.

Work-life harmony is important to survive. Therefore, if your job requires you to be available at all times, then your work environment is not a healthy work environment. If this situation cannot be resolved, perhaps this job is not ideal for you.

7. Lack of Transparency in the Work System

When signing an employment contract, it generally includes some crucial information about the company and matters related to the job description, such as the amount of salary and bonuses and the period of work.

So, if the basic information above is not included in the contract or even the discussion seems to be avoided, then you need to be careful. This is because the lack of clarity in these procedures has great potential to exploit employee performance

8. Lack of work professionalism

Work professionalism is the main aspect of work. All employees at any level should have good ethics and a goal-oriented view. However, it cannot be denied that in work culture there are often acts of belittling, ridiculing, ignoring, or expressing disrespectful language within the office.

Furthermore, this also happens in relationships with co-workers who often complain, are late, play truant, assign work to other people, or even engage in physical or verbal bullying in the office.

So, when you have discovered or perhaps experienced some of the incidents above, you should help the injured party through psychological support or report it to the authorities.

9. Unbalanced Loads and Working Hours

Referring to the job description in the contract, when you become an employee, generally you will be given information about hours and workload. Even if it is not written, this information should have been discussed by both parties.

So, if during your work you experience cuts in your leave or permits, elimination of holiday periods or additional workload and working hours without calculating overtime pay, then this is a sign of a toxic work environment.

10. Demand to obey orders from superiors

Another phenomenon that symbolizes a toxic work environment is the obligation to obey superiors. It needs to be understood that having higher authority does not always indicate good leadership. Limiting criticism and suggestions in a professional context is considered to be one of the things that reflects work culture.

If you feel that you are not free to express constructive opinions, feel underestimated, rarely receive appreciation, often receive ridicule or are forced to obey authority, then it would be highly recommended to change your career path to another company.

How do you deal with a bad working environment?

How do you deal with a bad working environment?
Tips to Overcome Toxic Work Environment 

In a way, you have an idea of what an unhealthy workplace environment looks like. After that, you can take decisions and steps to deal with it. Below are some tips for dealing with, or even leaving, an unhealthy workplace.

The first is to consider the options you have. In general, there are two choices for you, stay and face a toxic work environment, or leave. Making a decision about this is not an easy thing, considering a number of aspects, including financial factors. 

However, you can offer something brilliant, such as working remotely. That way, you are not directly connected to an unhealthy work environment, but can remain productive because you work with other creative individuals. So on, how do you deal with a toxic work environment? Here's the review.

1. Focus on yourself and work

Basically, work is a supporting aspect of daily needs. Therefore, creating boundaries between life and work is a very natural thing to do.

Usually called work life balance, work should be done optimally during working hours and not taken home. This also applies vice versa, avoid spreading personal problems to coworkers. This is done with the aim of creating boundaries between work and personal life so that you can get time to rest and clear your mind.

2. Establish good relationships with trusted people

It should be understood that a person's personality is varied. Referring to the following, in the work environment, you need to maintain good ethics and be polite to all co-workers. However, make sure you find one or two people who are role models and supporters to help you overcome a toxic work environment.

3. Looking for a hobby

Another way to refresh your mind after working in a less conducive environment is to find a hobby. After work hours are over or on holidays, try to focus on other activities to relieve boredom.

4. Doing Me Time

Setting aside time for yourself every day as a self-reward step is not a bad thing. In fact, you need to take a break to care for your physical and mental condition. Starting from simple things such as buying your favorite food and drinks, eating lunch alone or going home immediately after working hours, you have taken good steps for yourself.

Apart from that, me time activities such as cooking, exercising, going shopping, watching movies, or playing games on holidays can also be an alternative to divert focus from work.

Another way is to identify the main problems in the place, what makes it a toxic workplace. Facing it directly in an elegant way can minimize the development of the problem. You can also ask for support from those you can trust to deal with this.

However, of all your options, preparing to leave an unhealthy workplace can also be a consideration. There are limits that must be set, for ideal work-life harmony conditions.

5. Always Think positively

Thinking positively in the midst of a negative work environment can be difficult. However, this is one way The Muse suggests to deal with it. This method will help you think more clearly in looking at every problem that comes and goes.

One way is to meditate for a moment to calm yourself and reduce the pressure in your mind. Apart from that, avoid getting involved in negative things done by colleagues in your work environment. Focus on your work and do your best.

6. Resign

If you feel that a negative work environment is actually destroying your personal life, you should start taking a stand and plan to resign from that place.

Don't be afraid to discuss it with your superiors and authorities in the work environment. If you have found a middle ground, then you can resign well or without drama.


So, that's an explanation of the definition of a toxic work environment, its characteristics and how to deal with it. If you find that your work environment is very disturbing and affects your productivity, you can use the tips above to overcome it.

Don't face these negative situations with a negative attitude. So, are you experiencing it now? If yes, then you can apply some of the tips above to quickly get out of this condition.

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