If you read the title of this piece and did not shudder, you are one of the lucky ones – take our word for it. We spend so much of our lives at work or in the office… or more accurately around 90,000 hours, (sorry), that for some of us it may as well be our second home.
In fact, thanks to the pandemic, many of us cannot distinguish whether we are working from home or living at work, which would be miserable enough if we were not also still trying to avoid the danger cough and having to excessively zoom people for “essential meetings” from our kitchen table. Do not roll your eyes, your cam is on- you are not safe.
So if your workplace is an unpleasant place to work, things can get really difficult, and while the definitions of toxic and unpleasant are not interchangeable, circumstances or situations can turn toxic pretty fast. It is best to be prepared, armed with significant defenses, and invest in some good gin* if you feel like your work environment is on this slippery trajectory. So, with that in mind, here are some tips that you can use to help yourself get through the worst of a bad situation as an employee with nowhere to escape to, or as an employer that just wants to do better.
Find A Friend
There might not be many things that are lonelier than having to tough out a difficult workplace by yourself. Not only can it be emotionally exhausting having to tread on proverbial eggshells, but there is no one to share the good bits with either, even if it just a simple “Did you see that?” eye glance across the desk. If your workplace is a big place then by the law of statistics you have a better chance of finding someone on your wavelength, even if they are not dealing with the same issues as you. Sometimes just having someone rooting for you is enough to keep the worst days from pulling you into a sinking hole. This can be trickier if the company is small and departments are cliquey, but if there is often unkind behavior at your workplace, you might be surprised how many people secretly share your opinion while biting their tongue. Form an alliance, start a revolution, burn the place down to the ground!** – Or just find a friend you can trust. We will not judge either way.
Get Mindful of Yourself
You might be staring at this heading and thinking “I am already well aware of enough, thank you!” but what we mean is being mindful of how you let your environment affect you. You do not need to be religious to gain inspiration from the quote ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference’, and assuming you cannot, in fact, throw your computer out of the window or quit on the spot, changing how you let your environment affect you will have to take precedent over changing your environment until you can hand in that sweet notice. Taking the time for yourself to protect your wellbeing and your emotional health will be a significant investment in your life, not just for work, but considering the statistics we painfully revealed in the intro, those two can very much bleed into one.
For those who are causing havoc at work, do your best to pay them no mind!
A Message to Management
If you are management and you have found this piece because you are looking to make sure your workplace is an outstanding source of security, fairness, openness, and honesty, then honestly, we are impressed. If you have been sent this anonymously a couple of times now from email accounts such as thisjobstinks123, it might be a hint.
Every workplace is different. Some bosses are more involved than others, some often leave the business into other hierarchy hands, and with others it could be that complaints, streams and streams of them, fall on deaf and defiant ears. For a business to run smoothly and work well, employees need to be happy, they are the backbone of the business, and having services in place, such as a good HR service, can allow for complaints, personal issues affecting work life, and disagreements and misunderstandings to be explored by a department that has both the employees and employers’ bests interests as heart.
No business is exempt from the complications that come with working with humans, that is just life, but creating a secure and open environment where employees feel heard can not only improve quality of work tenfold but will also do outstanding things for your brand. If you are starting out or are a small company that has not invested in this service yet, you can find an experienced professional that can handle the maintenance and running operations of a business effectively by outsourcing. Read here to find out what is HR outsourcing and use a service that can make your employees feel safe and looked after within employment.
After all, retaining employees is much better for your business than finding new ones… repeatedly.
Stay Focused on What is Important
If you are working for a company which does not appear to care about your mental or physical health, then it is safe to say you have very limited reason to care about the business past it paying your wage, before you can move on to bigger and better things. Do not spend your 90,000 hours (sorry again) in a place that does not respect you as a human being or an integral part of the business’s success, that does not treat you fairly or does not take responsibility for a toxic environment. While you are mass emailing your CV to every place that pops in your mailbox, focus on what you can still gain from the experience until you are able to get out – even if it that is just an exercise in staying sane.