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How To Cope With A Toxic Work Environment

A toxic work environment doesn't mean the end of your career. Here are some healthy ways to cope.
How To Cope With A Toxic Work Environment

Toxic work environments seem to be more prevalent these days. And the entertainment industry is no exception. From the set of the Dr. Phil Show to HBO’s Euphoria, employees allege toxic and, in some cases, abusive environments. According to a survey by Talent Works, a toxic work environment is the most common factor that deters women from pursuing tech roles, with 21% citing frequent experiences. On average, 1.3% of American employees at large companies explicitly describe their company’s culture as toxic or poisonous, according to Glassdoor. Yet, the most impactful study came from MIT researchers revealing that toxic culture is driving the Great Resignation. More specifically, a toxic corporate culture is 10.4 times more powerful than compensation in predicting a company’s attrition rate.

Toxicity in the workplace is not only widespread, but it’s also incredibly detrimental to employees’ mental health, according to a study by the American Psychological Association. So, if you find yourself in an unhealthy situation at work, here are some ways you can cope.

Find a support system

If you’re experiencing a toxic work environment, chances are you’re not alone. Finding supportive co-workers to lean on is critical during this time. While you don’t want to be perceived as gossiping, you want to surround yourself with people that have a positive mindset. You may also want to find a support group outside of work. Having people to turn to that aren’t your work colleagues gives you another safe outlet to vent your frustrations.

Seek out a coach

Symptoms of burnout can sometimes be confused with those of a toxic work environment. If you’re wondering whether the problem is you or the company culture, seek a professional coach. Having an unbiased third-party sounding board can help you sift through your feelings and get to the root cause of the issue. They can also help you develop strategies to deal with a toxic work environment and set realistic career goals.

Implement mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness techniques can be a great way to manage work-related anxiety and stress. Start by doing a short, guided meditation or try some visualization exercises. Mindfulness in the workplace can help you focus on the present and be more intentional about engaging with the world.

Take time to de-stress

After a long workday, it’s important to find ways to unwind. Find activities that help you get your mind off work. Some examples could be engaging in your favorite hobby, journaling or scheduling an outing with friends. Finding your identity outside of work will also help put things in perspective.

Establish healthy boundaries

If you find yourself in a toxic work culture, it’s important to set healthy boundaries. For example, consider turning off your work phone after a certain time each day and only responding to emails during business hours. Practice communicating your boundaries clearly to your manager and co-workers. If a boundary is crossed, address it immediately, so it doesn’t happen again. In a survey by Self Financial, almost one in 11 employees do not feel respected by their manager, and 11.6% say they feel disrespected by the company they work for as a whole. If you experience disrespect, abuse or bullying at work, make sure to document it. That way, you will be prepared if you need to escalate the matter or resort to legal action.

Start planning your exit strategy

If you’ve decided that the status quo is worse than the thought of change, it’s time to start looking into other job opportunities. Reach out to your network and update your professional social media profiles. Take this time to document all your achievements and create a timeline for when you’d like to leave your current position. Then develop an action plan with specific milestones to hold you accountable.

Finding yourself in a toxic work environment doesn’t mean the end of your career. Instead, focus first on implementing coping strategies. That way, if you do decide to move on, at least you know that you tried your best to improve your surroundings.


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