Reclaiming your happiness: walking away from a toxic work environment

In 2022, the World Health Organization reported that 60 per cent of the population is in the workforce. The report also found that poor working environments, including discrimination and inequality, excessive workloads and job insecurity, can lead to mental distress.

Although workplaces should provide healthy work environments so employees can be productive and feel fulfilled, this is not always the reality. It is important to know when to walk away from a harmful work environment to grow and thrive in alternative settings.

However, leaving a job is easier said than done. According to an article by the Canadian HR Reporter, 54 per cent of Canadians are living pay cheque to pay cheque.

While it can be difficult to leave a job due to financial concerns, staying in a toxic work environment can cause burnout, lack of motivation, dissatisfaction and physical health concerns, such as getting sick more often due to stress.

Brittney, a Toronto-based HR coordinator, explained that pushing through a toxic work environment is not a good idea.

“Follow your intuition,” Brittney said, “because if you feel like it is a toxic workplace, you don’t want to keep staying.”

However, because hustle culture frequently neglects rest and self-care while promoting unrealistic productivity, it can be hard to feel validated about following your intuition. Although discrimination and harassment are obvious reasons to leave, many other elements can make a work environment toxic.

Here are some signs that it may be time to leave a work environment for the sake of your growth and well-being.

Lack of mental health awareness

Brittney explained that a lack of mental health awareness in the workplace is apparent when an employee’s work-hour boundaries are disregarded. Another sign is when employees are micromanaged because they are not trusted to do their assigned job.

Additionally, a lack of mental health awareness in the workplace can look like limited support from colleagues. Brittney said this is especially detrimental because having the opportunity to create personal relationships is a signifier of a healthy work environment.

She added that without mental health awareness, “employees feel like they are not a human being but rather a statistic.”

Lack of work-life balance

The signs of a work-life imbalance represent the outcomes of hustle culture. It causes burnout and constant pressure to work overtime, resulting in significantly less free time outside of work.

Brittney said that in addition to personal connections, a healthy work environment allows for disconnection from computers and mobile devices at home. Since work-life imbalance can include being contacted outside of the office despite work-hour boundaries, a workplace culture that promotes work-life imbalance is unhealthy.

Feeling undervalued

One of the best ways to motivate employees’ productivity and passion is to allow them to grow in a company. Otherwise, employees can feel stuck in a repetitious pattern with little reward, leading to them feeling undervalued.

According to Brittney, feeling undervalued can also come from when a workplace fails to recognize an employee for taking on extra work or doing a good job. If an employee constantly puts in extra effort without reward, the work environment appears unappreciative.

 Deciding to leave a job can be a daunting experience. Yet, it can also be a rewarding one. A safe, healthy and encouraging work environment is important for employees’ well-being. Everyone deserves to feel fulfilled in their work, and pursuing a happier professional opportunity is completely valid.

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