is a bad working environment affecting your health and productivity?

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Do you feel lethargic, unfocused, and unmotivated at work? While some of this may be caused by lack of sleep and long hours, a lot of it may have to do with your working environment. Part of your wellness is your mental health, and working in a hostile environment can be one of the leading causes of stress and unhappiness. So how can you determine if you have a bad working environment and what steps can you take to fix it?

What is a working environment?

Let’s start with the basics. First, you need to understand what a working environment is. Your work environment encompasses a lot more than simply “the office” or the geographic location in which you do your work. It has a lot more to do with your surroundings and circumstances. In other words, working in an office with calming plants, open spaces, and natural light makes little difference if the work environment is toxic. Work environment goes much deeper than physical surroundings and concerns aspects like culture, communication, and employee appreciation and benefits. In short, a good work environment, as the name entails, is one that empowers you to do good work.

What constitutes a hostile work environment?

How can you tell if you’re in a bad working environment? It’s simple. Ask yourself whether the environment is enabling you to do your best work. Each person has a slightly different work style, so an environment that is hostile to you may be beneficial to your coworker. All that considered, we’re going a little beyond basic surroundings and taking a look into the very culture and framework of a company to determine hostile work environments.

hostile work environment

Here are the top 10 signs you’re in a hostile work environment

  • Bad communication
  • Poor leadership
  • Lack of respect for employees
  • Unprofessional coworkers
  • Unhealthy work-life balance
  • Lack of passion in the work
  • Failure to encourage growth
  • Alternate points of view are not tolerated
  • Your physical health is affected
  • You question your own worth

What do you do if you are in a bad working environment?

If you’re honest with yourself and your situation, it’s typically fairly easy to determine if you are in a bad working environment. So if you are in a hostile work environment, what steps should you take to create a positive work environment?

1) Push back

That’s right. Just because your boss says to do something doesn’t mean you need to blindly oblige. It also doesn’t mean that you should furiously object. But if your boss is a good boss, they’ll deal with and even welcome some push back. It means you care and you’re invested. If you don’t agree with something or feel you are being taken advantage of, let your boss know.

The key to pushing back successfully is doing so in a tactful way. First, make sure that when you push back that you’re doing so after ample thought. Don’t act on impulse. Study the situation out. Next, be respectful and professional. Make sure you clearly state why you won’t do a certain task in a certain way or why you don’t agree with a certain course of action. Propose a solution. If your boss truly wants an innovative company, he or she will welcome different points of view and some healthy pushback.

2) Befriend like-minded coworkers

Even if you are in a very hostile environment, there are usually at least one or two people who share your same values and frustrations. Talk to them about the difficulties they are facing within the company and ask them what solutions they have found. Find someone you can trust to keep your feelings confidential and voice your concerns in a civilized and polite manner.

It’s ok to feel frustrated, but gossip and talking bad about people won’t get you anywhere. Maintain a positive outlook, but don’t be afraid to reach out for some help if you can. Be completely honest about the difficulties you are facing, but try to keep your emotions out of it. Finding a friend within the company you can trust can help you find solutions and also make work more enjoyable.

befriend like minded coworkers

3) Get out

If you’ve done all you can to better the situation and hit continual roadblocks, get out! It’s not worth it! If you’re in a hostile work environment in which your mental and physical health are suffering, you owe it to yourself to move on. Quitting your job without something lined up would be a mistake, but looking for different work is one of the smartest moves you can make.

When searching for a new job, look primarily for a good culture fit. Look for a job that inspires you and gives you a reason to work hard. Look for individuals who share your same passions and values. Be wary of making money your primary focus, but rather look for a company that actively strives to create a positive work environment. Finding a job where you can make a difference and where innovation and differing opinions are valued is where true richness and prosperity lies.

positive work environment

Take Action

If you’ve determined that your current working environment is toxic, take action! At the end of the day, work is meant to be fulfilling and enlivening. So if you’re stuck in a difficult environment, there’s no shame in moving on. Make a plan, have some courage, and start looking for a better work situation where positivity and hard work drive engagement.

By o.c. tanner
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