In my college years, attaining independence became my primary goal. To me, independence meant being able to support myself. It seemed like I was working so hard toward one goal: getting a “good job.” For example, I thought a good job equaled full-time hours, decent benefits, close to home, with a livable salary.
Once you attain this goal, you realize expectations and reality might differ. Consequently, a good job is so much more than stability and a good salary; it’s your work environment, colleague relationships, capacity for work-life balance, and cultural expectations. These factors can make a job something you love, or something you dread going to every day.
Five Signs that Your Job is Toxic
When a job becomes highly stressful, how can you tell what’s normal and what’s toxic? Here are five signs to help you figure it out:
) You have stress before, during, and after work that is related to your job. Feeling some stress before going into work can be normal. Because we mentally prepare for completing rigorous or time-consuming tasks, stress is part of the package. What’s not normal is if that feeling of being overwhelmed continues throughout your entire workday, and even stretches into the hours after work. If you get home from your job and think, “I’m already stressed about going into work tomorrow,” then that’s a sign that your job could be toxic for you.
2) You don’t feel safe communicating with your boss. Good communication is necessary for a healthy workplace. If you are afraid to talk to your boss to let him or her know about a conflict you’re having at work, to ask for time off, to set boundaries with them, etc., then you are working in a toxic environment. Your job is your livelihood—it shouldn’t feel like it’s killing you.
3) Your colleagues are toxic. Not liking every person you work with is normal. However, determining if any emotional or verbal abuse exists from colleagues at your job is crucial. Emotional abuse could be a pattern of manipulation, dishonesty, and poor boundaries. A pattern of name-calling or severe criticism that attacks a person’s character, not just his/her work performance, constitutes verbal abuse.
4) You’re working extra hours and aren’t getting paid for them. While this should be against the law, some workplaces find a way to bend the rules. I’ve heard of instances right here in Buffalo about people who are forced to show up to their jobs fifteen minutes early, and stay late, without getting paid for this extra time. Consequently, these extra minutes add up to hours throughout a work week. Your time is valuable, and you deserve to be paid for it.
5) You don’t have support on the job. Maybe you are working shifts alone, or you don’t feel safe in your own office. Maybe you are being asked to perform tasks you haven’t been trained for. You could be delegated an amount of work that is unreasonable for one person to do in the allotted time. If this is a consistent pattern at your job, you deserve more support.
While these are good signs to watch out for, please remember your job could feel toxic because you have your own mental health issues. Sometimes the job isn’t the whole problem. Instead, the ways you cope with your thoughts, emotions, and environment require work. If you think the primary issue is your mental health, it can be a good idea to cut back on work or make time to get the support you need. For example, you might reduce your hours, take a leave of absence, or even switch to a lower-stress job. I strongly recommend individual therapy to anyone who thinks their mental health is strained. In conclusion, the therapists at Explore What’s Next can help you with your next steps, whatever they may be.
Christine Frank wrote this article and she can help you if you work at a Toxic Job. She is an experienced Therapist who works with a variety of ages but helps everyone. If you find yourself needing some help, call Christine Frank, LMSWW today and make an appointment to talk.
Christine Frank, LMSW
Christine understands what it’s like when you’re trying your hardest and an invisible hand holds you back. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, or stupid, or unworthy of good things; t just means you could use some help. Certainly, it helps to connect with someone who knows your stories are worth listening to. Christine will hear your story. She’s a great listener.
Christine is easy-going, friendly, empathetic, and non-judgmental. She’s funny and real in a down to earth way. She loves working with pre-teens, teenagers, and young adults to help them move through those difficult life transitions where a person can feel lost.
With Christine’s guidance and encouragement, you can take the first step to a happier, healthier life.
716.430.4611 | firstname.lastname@example.org