When it comes to your job or career, it is crucial that, wherever you are, that environment aligns with your core values.
If you think your workplace is a toxic environment, you’re not alone.
According to Gallup, a company that delivers analytics and advice to employers, employees, and all those in-between, as many as 71% of millennials have mentally “checked out” on their jobs; 55% of them are “not engaged” at their workplaces. Millennials are also the most likely generation to switch jobs and careers, and 6 out of 10 millennials are open to new prospects.
One major cause of this disillusionment is that so many of us work in toxic environments.
I am using “toxic” to mean “hazardous to one’s health” in the broadest sense: If your work climate is taking a toll on you physically, mentally, or spiritually, it probably means you work in a toxic environment.
I am a shining example of this. About a year ago, I was working at a small company of less than 10 employees. I didn’t feel valued, and everyone around me berated one another. Although I was fortunate enough to escape being treated with derision by my coworkers, I’m positive had I stayed any longer, it wouldn’t have been the case.
"Many of us work in toxic work environments." Image via NBC.
Six months was all it took for me to get out. One day I froze behind my desk because my boss came in the room and yelled at my supervisor; their spat escalated up to the point where I was convinced he would hit her.
The blood on his skin started to boil, and his usual pale complexion morphed into a conundrum of reds. Although he didn’t physically abuse her, he did so verbally. While the two inflict pain in different ways, both are unacceptable.
As if they could feel me shaking on the other side of the room, they took their charade outside and let strangers witness their fight instead.
A few hours later, my boss told me, a smirk on his face, that they went outside because he “didn’t want to scare” me.
The next day, I put in my notice. I’m grateful I was able to leave when I could.
Toxic environments can be characterised by the presence of an abusive or manipulative boss, cliques that make you feel like you’re back in high school, an atmosphere that leaves you feeling emotionally and physically drained, and unbalanced power dynamics being used to your superiors’ advantage.
Britt*, a 24-year-old web designer, quit her nonprofit job because she said there was no room for her in the company culture. She was surrounded by men in their 50s who’d been at the company for decades. They often excluded her unless they were making advances. She said, “I tried so hard to act professionally and I did it for as long as I could. I’m so glad I got out before things got worse.”