Are you working in a toxic workplace? Have you ever thought about the fact that you might be working in a toxic workplace, for that matter? No, we’re not talking about poisonous chemicals, here. We mean the environment you are working in that is created by the people you are working with.
There are many tell tale signs that give you clues as to whether your workplace is toxic – perhaps you have experienced some of them or are experiencing them at the moment in your part time job.
It is important to be able to recognise and acknowledge what these signs are because if you are working in a toxic workplace, it can affect your physical and mental health, affecting your self-esteem and confidence levels. In turn, this can then start to affect your life outside of the workplace and that’s not a good place to be in.
If you feel your morale is low and you have noticed that staff morale in general is low, then chances are, you are working in a toxğic workplace. A negative attitude amongst your workmates and showing no desire to perform well is also a sign of a toxic workplace.
Let’s take a look at how to recognise a toxic workplace and, once you can spot those signs, we will offer some tips about how to deal with the situation you find yourself in.
Feeling Pressured To Not Work So Hard
You have the mantra that if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Whatever type of part time job you are doing, if you are in a toxic workplace, when your colleagues see you getting on with the task in hand and, maybe even excelling at that task and exceeding targets, they start to make little comments. Those little comments could be of the type to make you feel pressured into not doing the best job you can.
Colleagues might do this because they fear being called out by management teams for not working hard enough. Your hard work might highlight that fact. Rather than work harder themselves, they will try to pull you down to their level of getting away with doing as little work as possible without getting into too much hot water.
This is a toxic situation because if you are looking to build a successful part time career, it can hold you back or you risk being ostracised by your colleagues.
No Regard For Work Life Balance
If you are working part time, chances are you are working part time for a reason. You might have children to look after or you are a carer. For others of you, you might be studying. Or maybe you just want to work part time because it’s affordable to you and you appreciate your work life balance.
Whatever the case, if you have a boss or team leaders who have no regard for work life balance then you could be in a toxic workplace. Yes, there might be valid occasions where you could be asked to work some extra hours here and there and maybe you wouldn’t mind that. But if you have a leadership group that expects you to stay around in the workplace outside of your usual hours at the drop of a hat, then this can cause problems.
No Strong Leadership
A non toxic workplace needs effective leadership. If your part time job is all about arriving to meetings only to sit through the whole meeting with nothing being decided then this is a sign of ineffective leadership.
And then, of course, there are the meetings where it seems as though everything on the agenda has been discussed and agreed – and then there is always a group who leave the room discussing how ty’re not going to do what was agreed, after all. Any decisions that have been made have just been sabotaged.
This inevitably leads to a dysfunctional workplace workplace where people have no deadlines or goals to aim for.
No Real Brief On Projects
When you are working part time, you might not be in the workplace when meetings take place on occasion. You need to be given full briefings on what has been said and what is expected of you in your role. If you don’t feel you can ask about this then you could be working in a toxic workplace.
Likewise, if you don’t receive the adequate training for what is expected of you then it could be the case that there is little or no investment in staff development.
“Oh, You Know What He’s Like. Just Ignore Him.”
There’s a person in your workplace who always seems to get away with making inappropriate comments. This could be comments about colleagues or it could be racist or sexist remarks, for example.
Or you might have that person at work who doesn’t do their job and leaves tasks to other people – younger staff who feel they just have to get on with the job.
Management has shown that they’re not going to do anything about this colleague by saying, “Well, you know what he’s like. Just ignore him.”
This is an example of a toxic workplace. Your lazy/racist/sexist colleague is going to continue to get away with their unacceptable behaviour regardless of what you or other staff members think about it.
Colleagues Have No Praise For The Workplace
However long you have been in your part time job, you can’t remember anyone ever saying, “I love working here,” and, now you think about it, you have never said to anyone, “I love working here.”
There is no enthusiasm amongst the staff and there is a high staff turnover also. A lack of enthusiasm and a high staff turnover because of unhappiness are big clues to a toxic workplace. No one has any enthusiasm or says they love working there.
Colleagues Just Do What They Need To Do
Do you find that when the time comes for an ‘all hands on deck’ scenario, your colleagues refuse to help. Is, “It’s not my job,” an all too common phrase when someone is asked to help out on a task that might not be directly related to their job description?
In a happy workplace where morale is high, staff are usually happy to lend a helping hand and work as a team to get something done. If this is not the case in your part time job then you could be working in a toxic workplace.
A ‘Dictator’ For A Boss
We have written in the past about tips for how to deal with an annoying boss. Not all bosses are perfect and some are less perfect than others. You need to make the decision as to whether you can handle your bosses behaviour.
For example, do yoı have one of those types of bosses that takes the credit for any successes that you might have achieved without forwarding any praise or credit to you? For some bosses, their way is the only way. Perhaps you recognise this in your current boss – there is no room for negotiation about how to tackle different projects or tasks. This can make staff feel like their opinions are not truste.
When a boss feels like their way is the only way, this can also sometimes lead to micromanagement where you feel like your every move is being watched. If you don’t feel trusted to get on with your job then this is a sign of a toxic workplace. Micromanagement can affect your self-esteem as you are being made to feel incapable of doing your job without your boss checking on you all the time.
The Dreaded Gossip
Most workplaces will have a bit of gossip – a few comments between friends that doesn’t get out of hand. However, if gossip in your workplace is a real problem then you are working in a toxic environment. Nasty comments about colleagues for whatever reason. Or it could be a clique of employees who always gather to whisper about others people. They could be whispering about you.
Gossip can be hurtful and can also make staff feel paranoid that they are the ones being talked about. Gossip creates a hostile environment rather than a team environment and is always something that should be dealt with by effective management teams.
It could be a regular occurrence that you arrive to work only to find that there are a number of absences due to sickness. It might be the same culprits, taking time off as often as they can get away with. For some staff, they could be off work with long term issues such as stress and anxiety.
Whatever the reasons given for staff constantly being absent from the workplace, a toxic environment can often be the cause these absences. Either your colleagues just don’t feel any loyalty to the workplace and are happy to take days off sick whenever it suits them or they are suffering from stress or other illnesses because of the atmosphere at work.
No Teamwork Ethic
If something goes wrong in the workplace, what happens? Do you all stand strong together and take the blame and work to make things right or is everyone quick to point the finger and blame others for the failure? Blaming others can sometimes be a sign of a toxic workplace.
At the other side of the scale, what happens when there is a success in the workplace? Is it high 5s all round because you all worked so well as a team or is there always someone who seems to get to the boss first to take all the glory for the success?
A ‘Put Up And Shut Up’ Workplace
If you are working in the type of environment where you feel there is no flexibility or appreciation of your needs, then this could be a toxic workplace. Sometimes, if you need time off or you want to swap shifts around, it can be impossible for your boss to accommodate you but if this is the situation all the time then you won’t feel valued.
Likewise, if you are looking to further yourself in your part time job, you might ask to do some courses or extra training in the workplace. A boss who tells you to just get on with your work and who doesn’t sit down and discuss your ideas with you is causing a toxic environment.
No Feedback On Your Work
Or, when you do get feedback on your work, it is never constructive feedback. If all you hear about is criticism, then you are dealing with a toxic work environment. You need to feel like your achievements are noticed and if there is a lack of constructive feedback then your are unlikely to feel valued.
The problem can become more pronounced if you feel there is favouritism. You could feel that this is a result of you working part time hours. Perhaps you feel full time staff are given all the credit for accomplishments and your efforts are constantly overlooked.
Rules And Regulations Are Ignored
Whatever type of part time job you are doing, you will always need to adhere to some types of rules, regulations and legislation. Some of these rules could be workplace rules whilst others might be national legislation for health and safety, privacy or hygiene, for example.
If you are working somewhere where you know what is expected of you and yet other staff seem only too happy to ignore these rules then you are working in a toxic environment. Trust your instincts on this one. If someone’s behaviour is making you feel uncomfortable then the situation is not right. This could be members of staff divulging confidential information about clients, kitchen staff ignoring hygiene standards, staff helping themselves to company property. Whatever the situation, if you are witnessing colleagues doing something that doesn’t feel right then, usually, it isn’t right.
How To Deal With A Toxic Workplace
If you have ever worked in a toxic environment, you could probably add even more examples to this list. But, now we know what those telltale signs are that tell us we are working in a toxic workplace, what can we actually do about it?
Life at work is never going to be trouble free and smooth sailing but we can do what we can to make sure we get the most out of it. No one should be walking into their workplace, dreading the thought of the shift ahead of them.
Before you decide to move onto pastures new, decide how bad your hours at work really are and consider some strategies to make things better for yourself.
Are You In This Alone?
Is it just you who feels like your workplace is an unpleasant place to or are there other colleagues who feel the same as you do. If you have some allies you can vent to and compare notes with, this can ease some of the stress and tension you might be feeling about being at work.
Keep Yourself Busy And On Task
Keep yourself away from all the work ‘drama’ by keeping yourself busy and getting your own job done. This can help prevent you from getting bogged down in the latest gossip about who has done what.
Of course, keeping yourself busy might not be an option if one of your issues in your part time job is other staff telling you not to work so hard lest they get into trouble themselves.
Be Proactive Out Of Work
Once you leave the workplace when your shift has ended, it is important not to let your toxic workplace affect your life outside of work. Make sure this is your happy and productive time. This could be spending quality time with your children, taking up (or working more on) a hobby or taking up sports. Going to the gym, exercise classes or taking up running will all be good for releasing tension and combating stress.
You could also use your time out of your part time job to retrain for a career you feel would be more suited to your skills and personality.
If you feel you are being bullied in the workplace and it might need to be reported at a later date, keep as much evidence as possible. Save any incrimination emails or social media comments made by your bully and log any calls. Note dates and times and write down what this person has said to you.
Apply for a new job and do your research first so you know you are not jumping from one job into another toxic situation.