Right before I started this magazine, I was working for another online magazine. At first, the job was amazing and was everything I had been looking for. It was remote, there were no set hours, I could write about so many enjoyable topics, and I was learning so much about running a magazine. I loved every second of it… until I didn’t. Suddenly, I loved the job itself, but no longer felt comfortable and like I was having any fun. This was because of the new manager in charge. Now, I constantly felt poked, prodded, neglected, ignored, pushed, and so much more. Every time my phone lit up with a work notification, I froze in terror. Was all this worth it to do the job I loved? Here’s my journey of realizing I had slipped into a toxic workplace, and how you too, can get out.
Step 1: Understand Your Feelings
If you freeze in fear every time you see a work notification come up, ask yourself why that is. Have you been giving your work your all lately and you’re afraid your best effort won’t be enough? Or is it that you’ve been a little spacey lately and haven’t been doing your very best and you’re afraid someone will notice? Is it that someone is making you feel this way, like a toxic manager? If you’re feeling afraid or intimidated by work, there has to be a reason. Work shouldn’t feel this way. While having little anxieties here and there is normal, being afraid of anything work-related is a major issue.
Step 2: Observe Your Surroundings
Are you the only one who is feeling these negative feelings? I highly doubt it. If you’re having issues at work, take a few moments to observe your team and see if anyone else is feeling the same way. Do your coworkers seem tense? If you work remotely as I did, this step can be even more difficult and can make you feel alone in the situation. My remote position made it hard to become friends with my coworkers because we worked independently and with our managers only. Thankfully, I had the phone number of one of my friends and got the nerve to send her a friendly text. After a while of getting to know one another, we got down to business and realized we were both feeling the same way. To this day, even though neither of us work for the company anymore, we still chat weekly and are great friends.
Step 3: Evaluate Your Options
Is this job your primary source of income? Do you have anything to fall back on? Besides quitting right away, do you think your job might be at risk if you asked for changes? Personally, the tiny magazine I worked for was not the right environment for me to state my claims and stand up for myself. If your job has an HR office, you can head over there to talk about your options and to voice your concerns. If your position doesn’t, will you be safe to speak your mind or will you be fired on the spot? Are you already at risk of being fired? I had no idea (because I wasn’t given a warning), but I was on my very last leg. One typo and I was out, just like that. You should also think about the job itself. If you’re doing something you love, can you continue to do it elsewhere? The answer is almost always yes. So when my job went up in flames, I started my own magazine and continued doing the work I loved doing, my way. Before making any rash decisions, consider applying around and having something lined up before you give your two weeks. Chances are, they’ll let you go on the spot if they are truly toxic.
Knowing you are in a toxic environment is only the beginning. You need to get yourself out of there or rally for change once you make this realization. You deserve to do the work you love without being berated, tormented or made to feel bad.
Have you ever dealt with a toxic workplace? Share your wisdom with us in the comment section below!