It’s a term we’re still seeing in headlines—the Great Resignation. As it turns out, the Great Resignation is far from over. While the rate of people quitting their jobs has declined somewhat, it remains high. In July alone, 4.2 million Americans quit their jobs, and U.S. job vacancies rose to 11.2 million, which is close to a record. So the question is, why are so many people still quitting their jobs?
According to research published by MIT Sloan School of Management, toxic work environments were the driving force. The study found that toxic work cultures were the biggest cause of attrition—even more so than job insecurity or bad pay. Based on the analysis, the leading elements contributing to toxic cultures include failure to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, employees feeling disrespected and unethical behavior.
While you might find yourself in a toxic work environment, you may not have the luxury of quitting—at least not right away. In that case, it’s essential to develop healthy coping strategies. Here are some ways to stay positive and productive until you find a supportive culture that aligns with your values.
Let go of what you can’t control
When attempting to survive a toxic work environment, it’s critical to remember that there are things outside your sphere of influence. While you typically can’t control the culture, you can control how you respond to the situation. Start by letting go of any negative thoughts and feelings. By doing so, you free yourself of them and all the stress and anxiety they cause.
Toxic work cultures can be draining. That’s why it is so important to develop and enforce healthy boundaries. Part of this strategy is steering clear of office gossip. For example, when your colleague starts badmouthing your boss or co-workers, try changing the subject. That way, you can avoid getting sucked into the negativity.
Find a support system
Lean on people you trust to help you get through this difficult time. While there may be a lot of negativity at work, try to find positive colleagues that can boost your mood and help you feel less isolated. It can also be helpful to work with a mentor or coach if you think it’s time to search for other opportunities.
Create an action plan
One of the best ways to start taking control of the situation is to take action. Begin with the smallest step imaginable. When you are “in action,” it is much more difficult to feel worried or helpless. For example, if you decide it’s time to start looking for a new job, you will want to begin a job search quietly. In some toxic work environments, managers may not be pleased if they find out that you are job hunting, so it pays to be discreet. It’s also a good idea to save money so you can afford to quit if things become unmanageable.
Remember you aren’t your job
Too closely tying our identities to work can be dangerous. It’s important to remember that your career doesn’t define you. One reason is that if you tie your identity to your job, the successes and failures you experience will directly affect your self-worth. When you become so enmeshed with your work that it begins to define you, you also may start to let it determine your own value. Instead, pinpoint the things that really matter to you and keep them at the forefront of your work life.
Toxicity in the workplace is not only on the rise but also hugely detrimental to employees’ mental, physical and emotional well-being. Don’t wait for the situation to escalate to the point that you experience stress, depression and ultimately burnout. Instead, use these coping mechanisms until you can establish a timeline for your job search. Then, focus your energy on finding a new role in an environment where you feel valued and supported.