The Emotionally Hazardous Work Environment: Is it Worth the Price You Pay?
printer jammed again, your phone keeps disconnecting, that
quick briefing turned into a three-hour meeting. We've all
had tough days at the office when it seems like nothing is
going our way, but when your tough day at the office turns
into weeks, months or years, and moves away from the trivial
paper jam to more serious offenses like belittling or outright
abuse, you may have an emotionally hazardous work environment
on your hands.
your work environment is hazardous, chances are pretty high
that you already know it. But for those who may still be in
denial ... Mary Jo Fay, RN, MSN, founder of the Narcissism
Survivor Network (www.helpfromsurvivors.com), defines an emotionally
hazardous work environment as:
workplace lead by a manager who believes in demonstrating
power and control over employees, dominates others through
intimidation, conveys no compassion or understanding for the
individual needs and issues of employees, and who may frequently
take credit for the work of his or her subordinates. In other
words--a workplace lead by a narcissistic manager."
sums it up quite nicely, but to put it into even more workable
terms, if you are falling prey to the following behaviors
from your manager, supervisor or coworker it may be time to
reassess your work situation:
personal objects (family photos, etc.) in the workplace
Making employees feel like
someone is constantly looking
over their shoulders is a passive
aggressive tactic used in some
can fall victim to a hostile work environment, and as the
effects trickle down from one employee to the next, the
misgivings of one emotionally hazardous individual, particularly
one who is high up on the totem pole, can potentially destroy
an entire company.
are warning signs, though, that you can look out for to
avoid getting stuck in this type of work situation, which,
as you'll read below, can actually cause you physical harm.
Here are some signs that your office is not a healthy one:
Leadership and Constant Change. The company is constantly
"reorganizing" by either downsizing or expanding,
and rules and procedures to protect employees are either
non-existent or not followed.
Communication or Destructive Communication. No one ever
asks your opinion or, if they do, they talk over it or don't
listen. Managers are condescending and/or aggressive and
purposely praise/put down employees in front of one another.
Numbers Count. The bottom line is the only one that matters
in this company. There is no room for employee feedback and
any given is frowned upon or belittled.
Room for Advancement. No matter how hard you work, there
is no opportunity for promotions or rewards. The work and/or
company is boring, repetitive and stagnant.
Management. Managers subscribe to the saying, "We
don't pay you to think," and get explosively angry when
challenged or questioned. They frown on employee participation
in making important decisions and are happy to make employees
feel like they are inferior.
of Firm Policies. There is a double standard in that company
policies appear to be different for different people and job
positions. There is little support for workers but substantial
support for management.
Signs you may be working in
an emotionally hostile
condescending managers, not
having your opinion respected,
or not being asked to participate
in decision making.
Route to Solve Grievances. A manager treats you badly
and there is no way to voice your grievance. Red tape abounds
and dysfunctional individuals are well-protected.
Work Conditions. The workplace itself is not well
heated or air conditioned, the air quality is poor, there's
excessive overtime or a lack of personnel. Equipment may
not work properly and employees are then blamed for lack
Culture. Leaders in the company struggle with alcohol
or drug abuse or have a history of violence.
Enough is Enough
do you know when your workplace has crossed over the tolerable
body is the best indicator in any situation," says
Deborah Rosado Shaw, author of Dream
BIG: A Roadmap for Facing Life's Challenges and Creating
the Life You Deserve. Stress-related illness like migraines,
insomnia, depression, anxiety or frequent infections or
other illnesses are all signs that your job worries are
taking a toll on your physical health.
problems like these are the cause of 75 percent to 90 percent
of all primary care physician visits, and guess what one
of the primary factors leading to stress in adults is? If
you guessed work environment then you're right on track.
many companies don't realize is that abusing employees will
only hurt the company. Employees who work in emotionally
hazardous environments are more likely to:
absent from work
focus and concentration
insurance for medical conditions (many of which are brought
on by the stress)
or unintentionally sabotage the workplace due to their
Your Workplace is a War Zone
Jo Fay went so far as to compare an emotionally hazardous
work environment with a war zone. She mentioned the constant
strain of "living under high tension" and the
intense desire to "stay out of the line of fire."
you must walk on eggshells to get through your workday and
come home feeling tense, irritable, depressed and dreading
the next day, it's time to ask yourself whether the job
is worth the emotional and physical strain it is inevitably
putting on your life.
Most of us know of friends and family
who may feel "Stuck" in dead-end,
emotionally-abusive jobs. With one
life that we are sure we are given, the
question is, "Is it really worth it?" Please
forward this email on to those you
know who may benefit from this
deep and ask yourself, "Is it really worth it?"
McMeekin, a career coach, said, "For some people, quitting
their job is the healthiest thing they can possibly do."
But ultimately you will have to be the one to decide when
it's worth it and when that final line has been crossed.
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