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Recognizing the Toxic Workplace

You wake up in the morning and dread going into work. Deep down inside you know you’re not the only one. You know it’s not as simple as hating a 9-5 grind. Each morning you feel like you’re getting ready for fight club. At the end of a long day you realize you’re not just bringing work home, you’re bringing home the stress.

Did You Know?

According a report by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 2014:

  • 27% of Americans have suffered abusive conduct at work; another 21% have witnessed it
  • 72% are aware that workplace bullying happens
  • 37 million US workers report being subjected to abusive conduct
  • 65.6 million are affected (those abused + those who witness it)

From a financial perspective…

The financial impact of toxic employees far exceeds most of our expectations. Two “workplace anthropologists,” Christine Porath, Ph.D. and Christine Pearson, Ph.D., have been studying toxic workplace behavior for eight years ….  Here’s how over two thousand employees surveyed reported their reactions to being victims of toxic behavior:


What Feeds a Toxic Work Environment?

There are many factors that feed a toxic work environment. These can range from a lack of trust among peers, a lack of trust between employees and management, or both. In reality, employees alone cannot repair a toxic work environment. To this point, Tricia Lucas, a  toxic workplace researcher states:

“Toxic work environments can only exist where a lack of trust and respect are present, and this can only occur in the absence of sound leadership. Simply put the phrase “toxic work environment” is code for bad leadership, because a toxic culture simply cannot co-exist in the presence of great leadership.”  

So what does this mean? Be fair to yourself and be realistic. You alone cannot fix a toxic workplace environment. You can try to improve your situation. Start by setting boundaries and making professional self-care a priority. You can partner up with colleagues to build some positive solidarity. Unless there is a serious commitment from upper management to authentically support those affected by a toxic work environment, address the root cause AND follow up with the ones that are the source of workplace bullying, you’ll lose a lot of energy pulling yourself out of a vacuum if you don’t have a good game plan.