Shreya Sangwan and Dr. Seema Kwatra, PhD Scholar and Professor, Department of Family Resource Management, College of Home Science, GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand
Stress, depression, panic attacks, melancholy, apathy, solitude and so forth. These are a few words that we come across, hear and experience every single second in addition to on a daily basis. These particular words have picked up popularity. We hear school-age children using these words in addition to adult. Examination and deadline related stress, depression brought on by a heavy workload and employment insecurity, panic attacks brought on by concerns about money, an unhappy spouse and a difficult family dynamic. This mental and emotional stress is rapidly deteriorating our physical health. Particularly during the Covid period, this process was accelerated, and the effects are disastrous for people's mental, emotional, and physical health today. According to a WHO article, “The impact of Covid-19 on mental health”, 2022, much more severe mental health issues have been triggered by or amplified by COVID-19. Many individuals have expressed psychological distress as well as signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or depression. Women have also experienced more stress at home according to one rapid assessment, 45% of women encountered violence during the pandemic, either directly or indirectly In addition to these causes, "toxic work culture" is one of the most frequently cited and experienced causes of mental and emotional dysfunction. It was common before Covid, but since then, it has escalated into a major problem.
Let's examine this term's meaning. A toxic work culture is one where management methods, practices, and policies are prevalent and encourage unproductive behaviors and conflicts among team members. Employees may suffer as a result, as it may elevate their mental stress and can hinder their ability to be effective and advance their careers. In other words when hostile, bullying, or other negative behaviour is ingrained in the workplace's atmosphere, it is considered to be toxic. Employees are under stress, communication is hindered, there is a prevalent blame culture and bad attitudes and behaviour are encouraged (subtly or overtly) in work environments.
According to Atlassian, 2022 signs of toxic work culture in the environment are:
Negative attitudes have a self-fulfilling prophecy effect; while they are a product of the society, they also contribute to the depressing atmosphere in the workplace. Even worse, it makes it harder for everyone to get things done. 93% of employees claim that being around negative individuals reduces their productivity.
Due to the high levels of stress you experience at toxic workplaces, you frequently feel exhausted, ill, and worn out. It may be a sign that your workplace is negatively affecting your health if you frequently call in sick or if you're perpetually exhausted and worn out.
No one wants to make a mistake at work. Making a mistake at work is, according to 28% of individuals, their biggest fear at work. But there’s a huge difference between hoping to escape a brief face-palm moment and feeling paralyzed by a threatening environment that punishes perceived failures. Another sign of a toxic workplace is a complete lack of psychological safety, which gauges how confident workers feel taking risks and making mistakes. The entire team loses when members are reluctant to push themselves out of their comfort zones. Google's Project Aristotle discovered that psychological safety, rather than dependability, structure, meaning, or impact, has the biggest influence on team productivity.
Workplaces that are toxic are havens for dysfunction and uncertainty. This is due to the fact that these toxic environments frequently include a lack of confidence, ineffective communication, and power struggles. Projects, talks, and relationships frequently go awry as a result of these problems making it harder for team members to work together.
A small amount of workplace gossip is normal. Toxic environments only surface when gossip is practiced to the extreme. You've hit a whole new level of drama if your typical workday feels like you're the star of a reality TV show. Nobody speaks out loud; instead, they choose to converse in whispers, with side-eye glances, and with passive aggressive comments. Although it might seem harmless, this malice has a cost. Bullying at work is linked to mental exhaustion, melancholy, anxiety, and aggression.
People fleeing in droves are a clear sign that the workplace culture is turning away workers. One in five workers who quit their employment does so because of the company's culture. Companies with intentional positive cultures have a 14 percent turnover rate, while those without intentional positive cultures have a change rate of 48 percent. An article in Forbes says that, according to a recent MIT Sloan study, toxic work environments are the main cause of people quitting their employment. Google search traffic was examined by organic marketing platform Conductor, who discovered a 700% increase in searches for "toxic work environment quiz" in April alone. Additionally, Conductor discovered a 350% increase in searches for The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations in the workplace and 190% increase in searches for workplace mobbing.
How to deal with toxic work culture?
Whatever your line of work is, it's critical to surround yourself with inspiring people and an environment that fosters your career development and promotes your personal growth. Make every effort to maintain your positivity and productivity when working in a toxic atmosphere. There are several things you can do to get rid of the situation even if you work in a toxic workplace. Some of them are listed below:
It is crucial to surround yourself with coworkers who share your values and possess almost same thought process. It is essential to follow the pattern of "vibe matching" in this situation because, if you don't do it, gradually you will find yourself submerged in the toxic culture. You'll discover that you're turning into one of them. It is essential to check in and out and listen to your clock ticking at the appropriate times and start to work with people who share your values.
If not likeminded but are able to maintain an optimistic, encouraging, and enthusiastic attitude, surround yourself with those. There are all kinds of characters in the workplace. Do your best to surround yourself with uplifting coworkers. You and your coworker may be able to survive a toxic work environment if you have someone to rely on and confide in. Spend as much time as you can with them, encouraging them and engaging in conversation with them to the maximum.
Make it a habit to write down and display encouraging sayings and quotes on your walls and desks. Decorate your workstation with a motivational or inspirational saying, a picture of your family, or both. No matter the workplace, either of these can make you feel better. They can also lift your spirits and make you feel better, particularly when you're down or frustrated.
Make a list of all the things you need to accomplish each day to remain organized and to keep your thoughts away from work. You can accomplish your duties more quickly if you have a list to refer to because you won't have time to reflect on anything that has caused you stress in the past or your unpleasant work environment in general. Making a list can keep you optimistic and motivated and give you a reason to carry on with your day.
You can frequently find rumors, negativity, and passive-aggressive leadership in a toxic work atmosphere. Even though you are constantly exposed to this, it's essential to remember your values. Recognize the difference between negative thinking and your true self. Keep in mind that you are not a reflection of your environment.
Look elsewhere if you are no longer inspired at work. Spend some time getting up from your workstation or workspace and changing your surroundings. Take into account taking a quick stroll outside. Also engage yourself outside the workplace in things that you love to do. Explore your hobbies. Gain and retain positivity through them as well. By doing this, you can help yourself relax and give yourself the time you need to return focused and prepared to handle whatever the workplace throws at you.
When you operate in a toxic environment, it's crucial to try to see the bright side of everything as much as you can. Learn to laugh about some situations rather than whining about your work all the time. Laughing at everything around you can make you feel better. To remind yourself that you're not alone, you could also share tales with a friend outside of the workplace.
Even though it's common to want to socialize with your coworkers, keep all talk to yourself. This behaviour can encourage toxicity at work if you participate in it frequently. Set boundaries with those around you so they understand that when they try to start a negative conversation, they can only anticipate a neutral response. You can stay away from the negativity and maintain your concentration on your work by avoiding office gossip.
When you arrive home from your job, try to put your work problems behind you. Even though ranting can make you feel better, try to avoid talking about your job once you get inside your house. It can improve your attitude and keep you from making the issue worse when you divert your attention from work and the various problems that came up during the workday.
Maintain your everyday schedule and schedule at least an hour per day for yoga. Meditate every morning and before going to bed. During work, spare some time to meditate during your lunch hour at work. Use this mindfulness exercise to encourage serenity and relaxation. Be careful to breathe slowly and rhythmically, paying attention to each breath. You'll find it easier to get through the remainder of your workday even in a less-than-ideal environment if you release any pent-up tension and stress.
Be careful to eat a balanced, healthy diet. Eliminate drinking alcohol and refrain from smoking. Eat more freshly-picked fruit and vegetables. The most important thing is to drink plenty of water to keep your body cleansed. Try drinking as many detoxifying beverages as you can.
Nobody is free from the bog of toxic workplace culture today. I myself have been a victim of it and so I decided to write about it. But by recognizing the warning signs and symptoms early on and making improvement; we can avoid this illness that is spreading like a plague. It is imperative that we consider this serious issue and begin putting the above mentioned solutions into practice in order to save ourselves, particularly in these post-pandemic times. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the manager, leader, or higher authorities to prevent the spread of this kind of culture in the workplace because, in such a scenario, the outputs of the institution or business will eventually decline.