Surviving a Toxic Workplace

The guest author of this post has requested to remain anonymous as she does not want to bring unwanted attention to her current employer.

We all have our good and bad work days.  Unfortunately, every day can’t be perfect, but when the bad days begin to outweigh the good, you may be dealing with an unhealthy work environment.  I know this all too well, because this is my current situation.

I have been with my employer for almost ten years, and while every year brings new challenges, the culture of the company continues to decrease and with that, the lack of appreciation for their employees.  The signs were there for years – constant change in management, unclear goals, 12 hour work days that seem to accomplish nothing, etc.  So you may ask why I am still where I am?  When you have been with a company so long, it is sometimes hard to leave that comfort, that groove you are used to, especially when you work with other amazing people.  Also, I am not afraid to admit that I am in my 30’s and still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. 

So while I am working toward finding my next career move, I decided to find ways to make my current work environment manageable. 

I want to share with you some of the things I do to help myself in the hopes it may help others out there that are in the same situation.  While I am concentrating mostly on how to manage a bad environment while you plan to leave, some of these tips may also help those who may want to stay with the company, but just need help managing some of those bad days.  As a disclaimer, these are guidelines I have laid out for myself, and may not work for everyone.  Take what works for you and leave what doesn’t! 

Focus on your tasks.

Stay focused on your daily, weekly, monthly tasks. While this just seems like doing your job, it is easy to get pulled into counterproductive conversations that distract you from what needs to get done.  Block out time in your calendar to do specific tasks.  I’ve found this helps minimize being pulled into unnecessary meetings that could be solved with a quick email Q&A. 

Stay away from office gossip.

This is a big one. Office gossip fuels those negative thoughts and feelings that you may already be feeling.  Already upset about how management is handling situations?  Well, hearing more about them will not help you feel better, especially if the situation is out of your control.  It is smart to stay “in the know” about what is going on in your company, but make sure this is knowledge useful to you and not just “water cooler talk.”

Keep work at work.

Focusing on my tasks and blocking off times in my calendar helps prevent me from working over-time – at least not nearly as much as I used to!  Staying away from constant chit-chat and gossip also allows me to focus on what I need to do from 8-5 so once 5 pm hits, I am off the computer.  I will admit that this one practice is the hardest to keep up with, because extra work happens and after work hours are sometimes necessary.  My point is not to make overworking a habit.  Set healthy boundaries! 

Focus on outside hobbies. 

When I’m  off the clock, I find that focusing on the hobbies I enjoy makes me happier.  Knowing that work is not my entire life makes it a bit easier to clock in the following day.  For example, I like to run, so I plan to run after I am done with work to give myself something to look forward to after hours.  

Do one career-building thing a day.

Whether it is reading an article online related to your career or a career you are interested in, using one of the free course apps (Lynda, Coursera, etc) or discussing your career goals with a trusted confidant,  it is important to do this once a day to remind yourself what you are working toward in the future. It is a helpful reminder that your current situation is not forever.


Are you in a similar situation or have you been in one in the past? What have you done to help yourself through the hard times? Comment and share your experiences below! 

Also, if you’re looking for some guidance on what career moves to make next and how to find more fulfillment from your professional life, contact Alex & Samantha of Pace.  They would love to support you in your journey! 

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