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The four warning signs you are in a ‘toxic’ workplace – and what to do about it

Are you constantly walking on eggshells at the office? The four warning signs you are in a ‘toxic’ workplace – and what to do about it

  • The warning signs to determine if your workplace is ‘toxic’ have been revealed 
  • According to research by SEEK, toxicity often makes employees feel anxious 
  • Toxic environments can arise if gossiping or bullying occurs but isn’t stopped
  • Psychologist Sabina Read also outlined what to do if you can’t leave the role 

The four warning signs to help determine if you’re working in a ‘toxic’ environment have been revealed, according to research conducted by recruitment company SEEK.

A staggering 45 per cent of Australians surveyed believe toxic workplaces make employees feel worried or anxious as if they’re ‘walking on eggshells’, while 44 per cent deem gossiping to be unhealthy to do at work.

Toxicity can arise if staff members receive different messages from leadership and if no action has been reported against bullying – also signalling a negative work environment. 

A staggering 45 per cent of Australians believe toxic workplaces make employees feel worried or anxious as if they’re ‘walking on eggshells’, while 44 per cent deem gossiping to be unhealthy to do at work

Sabina Read, SEEK’s Resident Psychologist, said toxic workplaces typically involve a lack of praise and positive feedback, avoidance and secrecy.

‘At their very core, toxic workplaces are characterised by the unhealthy behaviours of humans that work there, and the relational impact these behaviours have on both those in the firing line as well as bystanders caught in the crossfire,’ Sabina said.

‘Unfortunately, this unhealthy behaviour is often rewarded, either explicitly or implicitly, which reinforces it. 

‘The impact can be devastating, leaving people feeling negative, resentful, withdrawn and lacking in humour and trust.’   

Sabina Read,SEEK's Resident Psychologist, said toxic workplaces also typically involve a lack of praise and positive feedback, avoidance, and even secrec

Sabina Read,SEEK’s Resident Psychologist, said toxic workplaces also typically involve a lack of praise and positive feedback, avoidance, and even secrecy

How do I know if I’m in a toxic workplace?

1. When employees are ‘walking on eggshells’ (45%)

2. When there are cliques, gossip or rumours (44%)

3. When different employees receive different messages from leadership (44%)

4. When bullying has taken place and no action is taken when it is reported (41%)

Source: SEEK

If the unhealthy behaviour persists, this can have a negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of the employees, leading to a decrease in self-confidence, accuracy at work and job satisfaction. 

While many can’t afford to quit their jobs despite working in a toxic environment, Sabina outlined a number of ways to manage the toxicity.

If possible, she suggested speaking to your boss or leader to deter the toxic behaviour.

‘While no-one likes to think of themselves as being part of the toxic problem, we are all at risk, when we look away rather than speak up,’ she said.

Leaning on co-workers to boost relationships and prioritising your mental health by focusing on what you can control is also highly recommended. 

What to do if you’re stuck in a toxic workplace:

Speak up to your boss or leader about the issues if possible

Manage relationships with co-workers for positive advice and support 

Manage and prioritise your mental health

Recruit a workplace ‘bestie’ to lean on for support

Put an ‘action plan’ in place and consider if leaving the job is the best option 

Source: SEEK

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