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Navigating a Toxic Work Environment: Strategies for Wellbeing and Productivity

Identifying Signs and Implementing Solutions in a Toxic Work Environment

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Work environment plays a vital role in an employee’s wellbeing, motivation, and productivity. Negative factors such as bullying, abuse, harassment, bias, discrimination, consistent aggressiveness, and general dysfunction can be some of the traits prevalent in a toxic workplace that have a direct impact on an employee's wellbeing. One constantly feels unsafe, insecure and under pressure in their job and has no prospects for growth and development. This adversely impacts an employee's mental and physical health to a great extent. 

However, it could take a while in some cases before you can recognize a toxic work environment, as you assume that you are a misfit or have issues with your work strategy instead of apprehending the actual situation for what it is. Nevertheless, having an unbiased opinion can help you gain clarity on that matter. 

Fortunately, there’s been a positive shift toward making workplaces more transparent, nurturing, and inclusive in recent years. The conversation around toxicity is now more open and accessible to everyone; this means that leaders and employees are now far more aware of what a toxic work environment looks like, and mindful employers are taking measures to make workplaces safer and healthier for their employees.

However, there is a long way to go before organizations can fully become toxic-proof, and if you find yourself dealing with such an environment, you need to be aware of it rather than ignoring it so that you can take the measures to protect yourself.

Establish Clear Boundaries 

Boundaries go a long way both in personal and professional lives. Establish clear boundaries if you find yourself working in a toxic environment. Often, people working in poisonous workplaces are overworked, stressed, and put under pressure. Create boundaries for working within the office hours and avoid taking your work home unless it’s essential. We all have those days when we have to meet deadlines and put in a few extra hours, but that becomes a recurring pattern, disrupting the work-life balance. 

Consider turning off your official phone after working hours and responding to emails only during work hours. In such situations, people try to push your boundaries. Practice communicating your boundaries with assertiveness and clarity so that it doesn’t happen again. 

Plan an Exit Strategy

It’s not wise to quit your toxic job until you find an alternative. Especially if you have financial responsibilities. Plan and work on a well-thought-out exit strategy. Explore other suitable options and alternatives. 

Also, if you are planning to quit your current job, reassess your budget and spending habits so that you can save more to manage the transition period financially. 

Reach out to your network and update your resume and relevant social media profiles. Often, self-confidence can take a hit while working in a toxic environment; one starts to doubt one's own abilities and worth as a professional. Don’t be afraid to connect with people and put yourself out there. 

Changing employers or roles can take time; you must have patience and a positive attitude towards the future.

Ask for Assistance 

Symptoms of burnout can sometimes be confused with those of a toxic work environment. Seek a professional coach if you’re wondering whether the problem is you or the company culture. Having an unbiased third-party sounding board can help you sift through your feelings and get to the root cause of the issue. Many companies offer third-party employee assistance programs; if there is one available at your organization, use that or get external coaching. This will provide the support you need to manage day-to-day stress and help you plan and strategize your next steps.

If you are already in the process of switching your employer, coaching can help you with structured planning and staying motivated during the stressful transition. 

Share what you are going through with your family and close friends to seek their support. A solid support system can help you deal with difficult situations easily. 

Reduce Your Stress  

It sounds like a cliche but make a conscious effort to reduce your stress. Practice mindfulness techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, body scan, 4 senses exercise, and mindful eating to manage stress. 

You can also participate in physical activities such as aerobics, swimming, or low-impact physical movements such as yin-yang to move your body and release trapped emotions. 

Stress is natural, but so are the ways to deal with it. They may not solve the problem directly, but they will give you the emotional and mental strength to deal with it. Understanding that stress is something that you are experiencing, and it is not who you are can help you create a barrier between yourself and your stressful emotions. 

Engaging with life outside of your professional realm can help you put things in perspective and deal with the situation calmly. Find activities that allow you to connect with family and friends and have a hobby to unwind after a stressful day. It is important to give yourself some space to process things better.

If you are a HerMeNow participant or alumni, book your free coaching session now through the HerMeNow website

portrait of HerMeNow Wellness Consultant, Anam Anjum

Anam Anjum 

Wellness Consultant

+971 52 629 9656


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