Stressed woman rubbing her forehead at laptop

A job you’re not enjoying and a toxic environment can really impact your emotional health, personal life and work performance too. If you’re going through a difficult time at work, you will get through it, and you can come out even stronger. You’ve got to believe that for change to happen. Be patient, try not to take your experiences too personal and work on your career strategy so you have options and don’t have to settle. Having multiple career options will happen when you develop relevant personal branding, embrace professional development and use effective networking and job search methods.

Maybe you’ve been at your current company for a while, relocated so you could take the job or you took a job for a better opportunity. Whatever your reasoning, it’s not always easy to make a change even when there’s no room for growth where you are. If you’re honest, deep down, perhaps you know that things aren’t going to get better any time soon. I’m here to affirm you with three signs of a toxic and dead-end job.

Only one person or a cliques’ ideas get implemented.

Cliques at work can form based on seniority (a common one), minorities, educational background, personalities and, generally speaking, any common denominating factor. When there is so much bias towards a particular group of people or a person and no one else’s voice seems to matter, that is a sign of toxicity. You deserve to feel a sense of belonging at work. We feel appreciated when our suggestions, ideas and thoughts are not only heard but incorporated into the corporate culture, day-to-day tasks, operations, etc. Bradley Owens, a professor of business ethics at Brigham Young University, found that teams with humble leaders performed better than teams whose leaders show less humility. When we’re humble at work, we don’t feel the need to take all the credit, we’re not arrogant and we foster relationships based on trust.

Money is seen as sufficient.

While most of the individuals I coach are concerned about their health (burnout, stress, lack of joy), they also want to make sure they’re paid their worth. Both are important. The sad thing is some companies have such a toxic culture they struggle with the reality that when your health is prioritized, they, in turn, are more profitable. Maybe you’re often asked to stay late or take on lots of extra projects. Then on top of that, you’re reminded about how much you’re paid or about a bonus or some other financial factor.  Money as a reward is not sufficient. Flexibility, a healthy and conducive work environment and a commitment to well-being are also necessary. The key to this is offering benefits that are meaningful and valued by you, the employee.

You’re not learning anything new.

Toxic workplaces thrive off confusion, poor leadership and people who don’t truly care about their work and professional development. Harvard’s HBX and McKinsey’s Academy series shows that learning is most effective when learners collaborate and help one another. The series also found that knowledge—both “know-what” and “know-how”—is social in nature. Your learning needs to be contextualized, on the job and directly relevant to your work environment. Does this sound like what you experience? Better yet, ask yourself, “when was the last time I learned something new and exciting?”


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