Top 10 Signs of a Toxic Work Environment

I’ve been quiet for awhile, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working. In fact, I’m putting in 10 to 12 hour days as I develop my sales page and course content for the Early Exit Academy. In the process of course development, I get to do a lot of research. Yippee! Yep, I am a research geek! And the research often lands me on the pages of bloggers who left the workforce early. Fun reads.

Detoxing from Work

The other day I ran across an article written by “Dr. Doom” at LivingaFI. He’s a software/IT dude who saved his money and left the workforce at the age of 38. In his early posts, he writes about detox – the period of transition between full-time employment and being settled in your post-work existence. Here’s his assertion:

The relentless nature of modern work shares aspects with poison.  Not the work itself, mind you, but the structures and pace of it all.  Your body and mind must cleanse themselves so that you can be free of these ill effects. Only then will you be restored to something resembling good health.

Dr. Doom indicates the detox process can take 3 to 4 months, and for some, much longer. As I approach the 2-month anniversary of my firing, I think there’s an element of truth to the detox concept.

What makes a work environment toxic?

Why is it that so many people are miserable at work? Could it be that they feel overworked and underappreciated? Speaking from experience, I was passionate about the area of expertise in which I worked. And I had great colleagues. But yet there was something about the physical and emotional elements of the workplace that was stifling. While I had considerable independence on my job, problems arose when I had to deal with upper management and the constant pressure of doing more with less. Finally, I reached a point of no return when my life’s work was belittled. Enough was enough!

I began to think of how a workplace begins to take on a toxic hue for those who work there, which evolved into a top 10 list. By the way, the list is based on a combination of research and work experience, so don’t jump to any conclusions.

Perhaps the best measure of toxicity is low staff morale, which is palpable if only management cared.  And if that’s the case, the organization is really going to have to shake things up to  encourage people to stay motivated. But ironically, that same toxic environment drives some people to save as much money as fast as possible to escape well before the traditional retirement age. So if you find yourself in a toxic work environment and have little power to change it, maybe it’s time to move on, or turn yourself into a saving fiend!

Speaking of Detox … Drinks are on the House!

I’ve made a conscious choice to move beyond anger and resentment. It’s simple to do that – I don’t want toxicity to carry over into my post-work life. And while I’m in a much better place now, that doesn’t mean I can’t have a little perverse fun! So it was with an evening with friends in which we speculated on what to do upon seeing the person responsible for one’s firing out and about. My friend’s advice was the best, “Buy her a drink!” So that got me thinking. If I were to buy my former boss a drink, what drink would that be? Just for fun, here’s my short list of drinks for the boss.

  1. Bloody Mary
  2. Old Fashioned
  3. Dark ‘n Stormy
  4. Snakebite
  5. Bushwacker

In the end, a sense of humor is critical in life. We’ve all done crazy things and gotten worked up over what turned out to be minor distractions. Each of us travels on our own journey. Here’s hoping that you are surrounded by inspirational leaders, coaches, mentors, and friends who will clear the path in front of you.

About the Author Brenda

Dr. Brenda is a sociologist, educator, blogger, and motivator. In addition to blogging at The Five Journeys, she writes 30-day challenges at BetterLifeChallenges.com. Her passion is guiding people on their journey to financial freedom at EarlyExitAcademy.com.

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