A few points to consider before chucking in the towel

5 min read Alannah

Dear Optimal Workshop,

How can I make my work situation better? I’ve only been there 2 months and the top and bottom of it is that I just hate it soo much. I hate my work colleagues, the atmosphere and my seat. I’ve cried every single night since I started there. I just feel like I don’t fit in and I never will. My colleagues are so cliquey all they do is sit and complain about everything and everyone. Their attitudes are awful but management love them because they are good at their job.

I hate my working environment it’s like I’m stuck in a prison and there is no escape from my colleagues and their constant bitching and snide comments. The work has turned out to be disappointing too. I thought it would be interesting but it’s not.

The whole situation has had a massive effect on me. I’m miserable all the time, I’m not eating or drinking properly. I’m not even carrying out simple work tasks as good as I know I can because I feel so self conscious and I’ve lost all my confidence.

– Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Eek! I’ve definitely experienced that unhappy feeling a couple of times throughout my career, when it’s dawned upon me: “Crap! I’ve made a really bad job decision.”

Being unhappy with your place of employment is one thing, but when thinking about going to work each and every day starts to make you physically ill, you know you’ve got a problem and that something needs to change.

A toxic environment can be summed up as any job where the work, the conditions, the people and its environment or a combination of those things make you so distressed it causes problems to other parts of your life.

Research from Gallup showed that 68.5% of US employees were “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in 2014. Being a disengaged employee could mean you are stressed or unhappy, and as we spend a lot of time at our jobs, it can have a huge impact on your life in general.

Here are some tips on sticking it out in a toxic environment and a few points to consider before deciding to chuck in the towel.

Remind yourself this isn’t permanent, get some perspective

It’s a job — you can always quit and find something else. Remember that we work to live, not live to work. Don’t get these two confused.

If your job is causing you serious physical, psychological or emotional stress

You should get out as soon as possible. If you can, line up a new job first or get a safety net sorted, however, plan to leave before you lose the willpower and mental strength to do so.

Understand what you can and cannot control in your environment

You cannot control what people say or do, you can only control your own actions and reactions. Truly understanding this will allow you to let go of owning other people’s negative behavior.

Never sacrifice your own personal integrity

Don’t get caught up with office gossip, keep your head down and put your best foot forward each day. Easier said than done, right? Do what’s required of you, but don’t put any additional energy into a job or workplace that doesn’t appreciate the extra effort.

Focus on improving yourself

Meet with a Career Coach and get clear on your personal values. Values are implicit — meaning we may not be consciously aware of them until they are questioned or threatened. When it becomes apparent that your values do not match your organization’s values, the environment can start to feel a little uneasy. Over time, if you feel your values are constantly compromised, your environment will start to feel toxic. For example:

  • You value inclusiveness, but your organization has cliques and people are isolated.
  • You value fairness, but your manager plays the favoritism card with certain staff.
  • You value time with your children, but your children are not allowed at your workplace or work events.
  • You value openness, but you are unable to express your opinions.

If your values do not align with your company’s values, or your company does not live by the values you thought they stood for, you will begin to loathe your time there. The more misaligned these are, the more disengaged you will become. Define your values and find an organization that enacts these. You’ll have a much better time and will look forward to Mondays!

Learn something from your experience

Turn your negative situation into a good learning opportunity. Often, our personal growth stems from surviving some of our most difficult situations. You might look at the types of qualities in a manager you’ll never want to carry, or a company culture you’ll never want to be a part of. You might want to be the type of leader that empowers its staff and allows an environment of open communication or be a team member that is always fair and welcoming to others. For every difficult situation in life is a lesson to be learned — it’s true, it really is.

Last but not least

If you’re planning on interviewing again, learn from your mistakes. During the interview process be sure to ask lots and lots of questions before accepting a job offer. You are interviewing a company to see if it is an ideal fit just as much as they are interviewing you. Understand the role expectations and get a feel of whether you could see yourself working in that workplace and with the people that are interviewing you. And finally, ensure that your own personal values are aligned with that of the company’s — trust your gut feeling!

For as long as you’re in it, keep your head down and do your job as best you can. When you finally have a chance to leave, try and hit those targets you have in place and write the best possible handover notes ever. Be sure to send a copy to everyone you work with and leave on a high note before waving sayonara!

You’ve got this — choose you, do you!