We all love the work we do, which is why we chose to launch a career in what we do best and are excited about. However, it is not always sunshine and rainbows. At certain points in our lives, we may find ourselves working in a toxic work environment and are at a loss about what to do. 

You can easily identify a toxic workplace through its people and negative work atmosphere where it is hard to work or progress. The signs of a toxic workplace are unfair work practices, high employee turnover rates, prevalent gossip culture, no work-life balance, unmotivated co-workers, and micromanaging bosses.  

The effects of a toxic work environment is more than just having bad days. It drains your happiness and dampens your excitement at work. You start to avoid your toxic colleagues so that you do not have to deal with their difficult personalities, and you often feel frustrated and annoyed at every situation. Worst of all, a toxic work culture will impede your potential when there could be so much more you could offer.

signs of a toxic workplace
signs of a toxic workplace

There is absolutely no shame in finding a new career opportunity with another company. We know a job search takes time, which is why you may have to stick it out for now. In the meantime, it is important to know how to survive in a workplace you hate, what you can do in a toxic work environment and how you can protect yourself from it.

how to cope in a toxic work environment:

In reality, it's likely that there will be at least one black sheep around no matter which company you work for. However, you should not let these negative people get to you. Experiencing challenges and stressful situations within a toxic workplace could help you become a better manager in the future because you’ll know what not to do. 

But in the meantime, here's some ways you can take note of how to survive a toxic workplace.

1. don’t take it personally

This can be especially difficult if you constantly feel that you have a bull’s-eye on your back in the office. Some people thrive on reactions and may jab you for one. The best way to resolve this problem is to put your emotions aside and look at the matter objectively. Give appropriate responses only when asked and channel your energy to your work.

You can’t change how others act, but you have total control over your reactions and responses. Depending on your actions, you can either improve or aggravate the situation.

2. speak up, calmly

Sometimes, those annoying colleagues in your toxic work environment can be extremely hard to deal with. It is not easy to repress how you really feel, but it is crucial to remain calm whenever you respond to them. 

Getting upset in front of the entire office will reflect poorly on you, especially if others aren’t aware of the context of the situation. Furthermore, acting up only makes matters worse as it gives these toxic colleagues a reason to be upset with you before the management.

The best way to prevent these situations from occurring within a toxic work culture is to avoid having interactions with them. If ignoring your colleagues isn't improving the situation, consider making your objections heard in a calm, collected and private manner.

3. get your manager involved

We know that getting your boss involved is not the ideal scenario. It might look like you are incapable of handling the situation yourself and you fear that they will start treating you differently at work.

It’s also important to note that it is also your boss’ responsibility to remove hurdles at work so that you are receiving the help that you need whenever it’s necessary. Good leaders take the time to listen to their employees and do what they can to help make the workplace a friendly and safe environment for everyone to thrive in.

To a certain extent, an incompetent boss or team leader could be one of the major reasons that’s contributing to a toxic work environment. As they hold power and authority, they have the ability to make decisions and shape the culture at work. A toxic workplace culture will be developed as long as the boss or team leader enables it to happen. 

4. set distinct boundaries

Maybe your bosses are the problem. They are always setting unrealistic stretch goals, moving the goalposts several times a day or expecting you to work at least 15 hours every day.

Set boundaries by requesting a face-to-face meeting and inform your boss about the problems you’re facing. There is also a difference between incompetence and setting unrealistic goals. Be specific with your explanation and justify why you’re not able to meet the deadlines for the assigned tasks clearly. Most importantly, do not forget to express your appreciation to your boss for these work opportunities as well. 

Focus the discussion on you, align on the expectations and agree on the next steps together. After the meeting, send a detailed recap that captures all the discussion points to your boss so that they keep to their word.

5. recover your mental health

We can't deny the fact that a toxic work environment can be detrimental towards our mental health. Many of these tips are easier said than done and prolonging our stay in an unhealthy workplace will just cause unsustainable stress, which will negatively impact your performance and self-esteem.

What you need is a ray of sunshine. Find the fun and happy people in your workplace and hang out with them during lunch or after work to take your mind off the stress. Prioritise your mental health by eating right, getting enough sleep every night and finding time to exercise regularly. No matter how much work there is, switch off during the weekend (or at least one day of the weekend) to recharge and regroup.

Work-life balance is incredibly important and work shouldn’t take over your life completely. Life is more than that and spending quality time with your loved ones is the most important memory that you’ll have.

6. learn and move on

Ironically, it is the memories of our time working in a toxic environment that reminds us that we are in a good place now. We no longer take simple acts of kindness for granted and are grateful for the support from our teams and management. The best thing about working in a toxic environment is that you learn how not to act or be when you move on.

when you have had enough of your toxic workplace

Knowing how to survive a workplace with toxic work culture, but it’s a different story if your toxic work environment is truly taking a huge toll on your mental health. It will be best to look for a better job opportunity that could offer a healthier work environment. You should never force or put yourself within a toxic work culture that you absolutely cannot tolerate.


tips to survive in a toxic work environment
tips to survive in a toxic work environment

Deciding to stay in a toxic workplace is a choice. You need to understand that you are not obliged to stay in a company with a negative culture, especially if you are unable to see an end to it. 

Set aside some time during the weekend to update your resume and send it to your recruiter. Visit job boards or our job listings to find other career opportunities that are better for you. During your interviews, which is likely with a competitor if you are looking within the same industry, conduct yourself in keeping with the reputation you wish to be known by. 

When looking to exit a toxic work culture, it’s crucial to know where your existing skills stand in the market when you are looking for a new job and a new employer. You can take advantage of the online digital tools like the Randstad Salary Calculator to discover what your skills are worth! This free salary benchmarking tool provides you with a personalised salary report that outlines where you stand in terms of pay, work responsibilities and talent demands in Singapore’s current job market. It’s essential to be informed of the relevancy and worthiness of your skill sets so that you can regain your confidence

work with randstad

Connect with us and we’ll help you get out of your toxic workplace by finding you the job opportunities that are more suitable for you. We cover a wide range of HR and recruitment services that can help chart your ideal career path on various industry specialisations. You can also visit our latest jobs, find the field that suits you well and apply for a new job.

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