Mental Health is a major contributor to a person’s overall physical well-being. Ill conditions of the mind can be linked to the overall functioning of the body. Not only some external factors but poor mental health can contribute to give rise to various health conditions like hypertension, high blood pressure, and many other cardiovascular conditions. Therefore it is important for a person to avoid various things that can severely affect their own mental well-being. Many factors are there that can influence a person’s mental health. These can be his surroundings, personal life, and various others.
One thing that can have a severe impact (both positively and negatively) on mental health is the workplace environment. Peaceful work environments can encourage people to do better things in their workplaces and might even motivate them to approach their problems more effectively. On the other hand, a toxic environment can have ill effects on a person and give rise to various conditions like stress and burnout, ultimately contributing to poor health.
So here, we will discuss in detail the adverse effects of a Toxic Work Environment on a person’s mental health and what we can do to fix these. Along with that, we will list various causes and indications for a toxic environment that you can know to avoid it.
What Exactly is a Toxic Work Environment?
A Toxic Environment is a metaphor referring to a work culture that is unsuitable for people to work in. It can indicate the conflicts among the employees, the behaviour of employees, and or their actual intention towards other people while working with them in their office. More commonly, it refers to the interpersonal relationships between the employees where the chances of them impacting their work are generally favorable.
What more commonly titles a workplace as having a toxic environment is the actions and behavior of the employees. People or employees working in a company using unethical means or using others by manipulating them for their own personal gains or work benefits is a common case or example of a toxic workplace.
Following are the signs and symptoms to consider a Workplace as Toxic:
- A workplace where any employee is constantly bullied by other colleagues or even by their superiors from the management.
- The requirement of excessive workforce from the employees, creating pressure on them and demanding a larger number of working hours than the scheduled one, is a clear indicator of a toxic environment where employees are exploited.
- No proper authorization of work from the superior, not getting recognition for the work done, or giving credit to other people for the one done by you can make you realize that the workplace is not suitable or the ideal one.
- Getting impacted at a personal level, like facing discrimination, abuse, or harassment from other colleagues, superiors, or the management.
- Lack of communication among the employees or to their superiors or the absence of a network or proper authority through which employees can tell about the issues they are facing while working in a company.
Other Signs and Indications of a Workplace that Might Affect Individuals Mental Health
The above-given signs are a clear indicator for not just one but for all the employees that the work environment and the place are unsuitable for them to work with. However, sometimes any workplace to be considered unsuitable or toxic for a person can vary depending on the person. What is perfect for one can be inadequate for another.
- Overtime: The performance of one employee might be different from others. While a work requirement of more than a scheduled hour is a red sign, a normal day for one can be exhausting or overdemanding for another.
- Lack of communication Channels: While abusive behavior is totally intolerable, in case when someone is not able to properly communicate, it can severely impact their work.
While sometimes it is the company in which the individual is working, sometimes there can be loopholes in them only, which might lead to a situation of too much stress or work pressure. However, that doesn’t mean you aren’t the right fit. With some assistance, you can cope and find the right motivation to enhance your work and maintain a work-life balance.
Consequence of Toxic Work Environments and how it can affect the Mental Health of a Person
Negative behaviour or inability to get recognition from others can demotivate the employee, and they face difficulty in finding the reason or motivation to work harder or improve their existing performance. Moreover, working in an unsuitable workplace and facing the same consequences can lead to adverse mental health, contributing to poor health and many other physical conditions.
Following are some of the major outcomes of working in a Toxic Work culture:
- Chronic Stress and Burnout: Constant work pressure can be hard to handle by any individual, creating too much stress among them. The situation of stress does not limit itself to the work premises but still remains with the individual, impacting other aspects of their life like their daily routine, relationships, or even their sleep or physical health.
A situation of too much constant stress can lead to a condition of total exhaustion indicated in an individual through various symptoms like anxiety and depression, commonly referred to as Burnout.
- Physically Drained Out: Mental health issues are totally related to a person’s physical health. Meanwhile, too much stress becomes hard to manage and also leads to exhaustion, which can sometimes lead to a point where an individual no longer has the will to give his best or even work further. Not only the work-life affected, but a condition or a Mental Health Issues in an individual can impact an individual both professionally and personally.
Explaining it more simply as it can be is that a Toxic Environment can be one comprising of either an individual or a colleague or an inhospitable work culture. Individuals can be intolerable behaviour-wise to deal with or can be manipulative, using you for their own personal gain. Speaking of work, it can be too much work pressure, which can create too much stress for an individual to handle. All these things in an individual can create mental health issues, which might affect their overall health.
Therefore, there is a need for awareness among individuals to recognize the toxic work environment. Also, employees must know how to handle it to avoid its influence on their overall health.
How to Deal with a Toxic Work Environment
An unsuitable or toxic environment will never be able to recognize the potential individuals or even highlight or encourage them to give their best. The first option that might come to anybody’s mind is switching to a new workplace or finding new ways to deal with their colleagues or constant work pressure. However, leaving your workplace doesn’t guarantee that the next one will be a perfect place.
Any company or business is not due to its great infrastructure resources but due to its employees, which determines how good a company is. How ideal a company can be will be totally dependent on its employees. While there is a mandatory need to take action against abusive behaviour, harassment, and other serious issues, handling work pressure might vary from one person to another, and all the management can do is provide them with proper resources to deal with.
Therefore, we have listed some common measures that you can take to deal with the Toxic workplace and avoid mental health issues for your own well-being.
Reach out to an Employee Wellness Program
The majority of corporate companies offer an employee wellness program to ensure the physical and mental well-being of employees so that they can avoid unusual stress and give their best. The major goals of introducing employee wellness programs are:
- Make the employees feel appreciated so that they can keep their morale high.
- Employee wellness programs are comprised of various practices like exercise and healthy eating. Poor mental health can lead to various poor physical health and vice versa. Therefore, regular exercise and a well-balanced diet can help an individual avoid stress and deal with ongoing stress more effectively.
- Constant positive motivation can contribute to good mental well-being and reduce the risk of other physical conditions overall.
All these factors contributing to a positive state of mind will ultimately lead to better productivity, benefiting both the employee and the workplace.
Maintain a Work-Life Balance: While joining various corporate mental health programs can be efficient and helpful in dealing with work pressure or other things, certain actions or measures are there that employees need to take. The first one is not to mix their professional and personal life. Doing overtime or working after hours and doing office work even at home can be acceptable once or twice, but not regularly.
What employees can do is avoid checking or tracking their work after the office, with the exception of emergencies.
Mark a Threshold and Don’t Cross It: Nothing is more important or precious than your health and family. Therefore, you need to give more time to these things than the work itself. Therefore, you need to create a limit above you can deny or say “No” and give priority to yourself and your family.
Other Measures which you can take to ensure a positive mindset are:
- Talk to somebody whom you can trust, like your friends, family, or even colleagues. Not everyone with your work can be toxic.
- Engage yourself in other activities after work, like a hobby, or join any club that can totally divert your attention from the stressful and toxic work environment.
While the above measures can be helpful in dealing with unsuitable workplaces, if those don’t work, then the last option is the exit door. Leave the organization and find a better one where you and your work can be appreciated.
Reach out to Reflect Within for any Support
Dealing with a toxic work environment is a common issue among working professionals. While some can easily take some measures to avoid the toxicity, some might not, which can lead to further mental health issues. In that case, seeking a professional will be really helpful and a much-preferred option. In case you find it difficult to deal with your ongoing work pressure, which impacts you on a personal level, then connect with Reflect Within, where we offer all the resources to help you attain a better state of mind and good health.