How To Survive A Toxic Work Environment

It’s a term we still see in the headlines – the Great Resignation. As it turns out, the Great Resignation is far from over. The churn rate has decreased somewhat, but is still high. In July alone, 4.2 million Americans quit their jobs, and the number of job openings in the US rose to 11.2 million, a near record. So the question is, why are so many people still quitting their jobs?

Toxic work environments were the driving force, according to a study published by the MIT Sloan School of Management. The study found that toxic work cultures were the biggest cause of turnover – even more so than job insecurity or poor pay. Based on the analysis, key elements contributing to toxic cultures include failure to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, employees who feel disrespected, and unethical behavior.

While you may find yourself in a toxic work environment, you may not have the luxury of quitting — at least not right away. In this case, it is important to develop healthy coping strategies. Until you find a supportive culture that aligns with your values, here are some ways to stay positive and productive.

Let go of what you cannot control

When trying to survive a toxic work environment, it’s important to remember that there are things outside of your control. While you usually can’t control the culture, you can control how you react to the situation. Start letting go of all negative thoughts and feelings. That way you rid yourself of them and all the stress and anxiety they cause.

set limits

Toxic working cultures can leach. This is why developing and enforcing healthy boundaries is so important. Part of this strategy is staying away from office gossip. For example, if your co-worker starts badmouthing your boss or co-workers, try changing the subject. This way you can avoid getting sucked into the negativity.

Find a support system

Rely on people you trust to help you get through this difficult time. Although there can be a lot of negativity at work, try to find positive co-workers who can improve your mood and help you feel less isolated. It can also be helpful to work with a mentor or coach if you think it’s time to look for other opportunities.

Create an action plan

One of the best ways to take control of the situation is to take action. Start with the smallest imaginable step. When you’re “in action,” it’s much harder to feel worried or helpless. For example, if you decide it’s time to start looking for a new job, feel free to start looking for a job. In some toxic work environments, managers may not be pleased to find out you’re job hunting, so it pays to be discreet. It’s also a good idea to save up money so you can afford to quit when things get overwhelming.

Remember, you are not your job

Linking our identity too closely to work can be dangerous. It’s important to remember that your career doesn’t define you. One reason is that when you tie your identity to your job, the successes and failures you experience directly impact your self-esteem. When you become so immersed in your work that it begins to define you, you can also begin to let it determine your own worth. Instead, pinpoint the things that really matter to you and keep them at the forefront of your work life.

Toxicity in the workplace is not only increasing, it is also having a huge impact on the mental, physical and emotional well-being of employees. Don’t wait for the situation to escalate to the point where you experience stress, depression and eventually burnout. Instead, use these coping mechanisms until you can schedule your job search. Then focus your energy on finding a new role in an environment where you feel valued and supported.


Feeling stuck and not sure if it’s time to make a career change? Download my free guide: 5 signs it’s time for a bold career change!

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