Recognizing & Addressing Toxic Work Environments for a Healthier Career


A toxic work environment can have a detrimental impact on your physical and mental well- being. But what’s essential to understand is that your role in this situation isn’t limited to being a passive victim. Each person has the power to contribute to positive change within their workplace or, if necessary, the freedom to leave and seek healthier pastures. First, I want to discuss some signs of a toxic work environment and how you can take control of your professional life. Here are some potential red flags that you are in a toxic work environment.

  • Negative Atmosphere: In a toxic work environment, negativity pervades every interaction. Constant complaining, gossip, and cynicism create a hostile atmosphere that affects everyone’s morale.
  • Poor Leadership: Inadequate or toxic leadership can be a significant factor. Leaders who micromanage, belittle, or disregard their team members contribute to a hostile work environment. When evaluating this, it is important to deal with facts, not opinions.
  • Lack of Respect: When colleagues and supervisors fail to treat each other respectfully and professionally, it breeds toxicity. Disrespectful behavior can manifest as bullying, harassment, or exclusion.
  • High Turnover: Frequent resignations, especially from key team members, indicate deeper issues within the workplace. High turnover is often a sign that something is wrong.
  • Unrealistic Expectations: If your workload is overwhelming, unrealistic, or unmanageable, it can lead to stress and burnout, contributing to a toxic atmosphere.

You can contribute to positive change. If you find yourself in a toxic work environment, it’s essential to remember that you have the power to make a difference. Here are some steps you can take to contribute to a healthier workplace.

  • Open Communication: Engage in honest, constructive conversations with colleagues and superiors. Address your concerns and seek solutions to common issues. Communication can help to shed light on problems and effect positive change.
  • Set Boundaries: Establish clear personal and professional boundaries. Don’t let toxicity encroach on your personal space. Politely but firmly decline to participate in gossip or drama.
  • Be a Positive Role Model: Lead by example. Maintain professionalism, respect, and a positive attitude. Your behavior can influence others, creating a ripple effect of positive change.
  • Seek Support: Reach out to HR, employee assistance programs, or a coach if necessary. These resources can offer guidance and assistance in handling workplace issues.
  • Self-Care: Prioritize self-care and stress management. Build resilience to the negativity around you by maintaining a healthy work-life balance, engaging in stress-reduction activities, and seeking professional help if needed.

Remember that you have the power to leave. Sometimes, a toxic work environment may not improve despite your best efforts. In such cases, you have the power to make the difficult decision to leave. Here’s why it’s important to realize that this is always an option.

  • Protect Your Health: Prolonged exposure to a toxic work environment can take a severe toll on your mental and physical health. Prioritize your well-being above all else.
  • Professional Growth: Staying in a toxic workplace can hinder your professional development. Leaving may open doors to better opportunities where you can thrive and reach your full potential.
  • Life Is Too Short: Life is too short to spend most of your waking hours in a toxic environment. Leaving may be the best decision for your overall happiness and life satisfaction.

In summary, if you find yourself in a toxic work environment, remember that you have the power to contribute to positive change or leave if necessary. Recognize the signs of toxicity, take proactive steps to foster a healthier atmosphere, and prioritize your well-being. Toxicity in the workplace is a shared responsibility, and your actions can influence the culture around you. Ultimately, your professional happiness and growth should be the driving force behind your decision to stay and contribute or leave and seek a more positive work environment.

Abby Gorman, the owner and founder of Symplexi Employee Development, started her career over two decades ago in the Newspaper industry where she dedicated herself to cultivating and nurturing robust teams. Throughout her professional journey, Abby recognized the immense value of empowering individuals to reach their full potential. Driven by her unwavering commitment to personal and professional growth, she embarked on her own transformative path, becoming a certified life, development, and trauma-informed coach. With a wealth of life and business experience, Abby has merged her expertise and collaborates with companies to grow and empower their teams.


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