Negative workplaces, toxic leaders, crazy co-workers – the news and internet are so full of stories about these things that, for many, they fade into the background. But those who work in a toxic environment face an unending cycle of challenging situations and discouragements.
Worker turnover because of “toxic” office cultures costs companies money. Since 2010, costs associated with voluntary employee turnover have nearly doubled from $331 billion to $617 billion according to the Work Institute’s 2019 Retention Report.
If you only had to deal with one inappropriate coworker or a bad boss, your days might be easier to manage. But when you’re facing a constantly stressful and degrading situation at work, it’s time to take action.
To do that, there are two key questions that need to be answered:
Do I really work in a toxic work environment?
(or is it just normally “bad” and stressful?)
What, if anything, can I do to make my work situation better?
(regardless of whether it is toxic or not?)
Do I really work in a toxic environment?
A Boomer may tell you, “Work is work. Get over it.” This is true, work takes effort and obstacles are encountered. But alternatively, work doesn’t have to be tortuous nor so demanding that we have no physical or emotional energy left for the other areas of our lives.
There is also the “people” factor to consider. All of us have weaknesses, personal quirks in how we think and view life, and we don’t always respond in the healthiest ways to stress in our lives. But there is also a continuum across people in how healthy or dysfunctional we behave in different situations. So, the question becomes: Is this person just temporarily stressed? Or, are they a jerk? Is this just a “growth area” they need to work on? Or, are they actually dysfunctional?
The complexity of trying to assess the multiple components that contribute to a “work environment” makes it difficult to simply answer “is my workplace toxic (or not)?” As a result, we created a brief online tool to assess seven different areas that have been found to contribute to the level of health in organizations: Communication, Honesty & Integrity, Negativity, Manipulation, Responsibility & Accountability, Feeling Valued, Cooperation.
The Ratings of Toxic Symptoms (ROTS) scale assesses each area and determines the level of un-healthiness reported, identifies the top three concern areas, and then provides practical suggestions and resources to help in each of those areas.