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August 31, 2021

How to survive a toxic workplace

Are you doing more than your fair share at work, but still being ignored? Are you upset watching your boss bullying you and your peers? Are you starting to dread heading into the office each day?

If so, you’re not alone. Talk to occupational health physicians and they’ll tell you that at least half of their caseloads are related directly or indirectly to mental health concerns from those trapped in a toxic workplace.

And there’s no shortage of them. The Mental Health Commission of Canada, for instance, estimates that between 10% and 25% of workplaces are characterized by conditions and environments that are considered “mentally injurious.”

What’s surprising is that this number isn’t higher. There’s so much turmoil and conflict in today’s work environment that even well-balanced people can’t help but be negatively affected. Tie that in with an uncertain economic climate, and you’ve got an environment for a wide variety of significant health problems.

As organizations run leaner due to layoffs and cost-cutting, it’s sometimes easier to enable toxic behaviours rather than deal with them directly. But that’s a mistake, writes April Scott-Clarke in the current issue of Benefits Canada.

As more and more employers are being held legally responsible for the mental health of their employees, it’s important that they understand just what constitutes a psychologically healthy workplace. Here’s what you can  expect, thanks to new employment legislation designed to deal with harmful work arrangements.

Sometimes though, you have to take things into your own hands, maintains Robert Sutton, author of The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't.

“The best thing to do if you are stuck under thumb of an asshole (or a bunch of them) is to get out as fast as you can,” he maintains. “You are at great risk of suffering personal damage and of turning into as asshole yourself. Acting like a jerk isn’t just something that a few twisted people are born with; it is a contagious disease.”

Click here for Sutton’s latest tips for surviving workplace clods without becoming one yourself. 

What are things like where you work? Is a toxic environment finally getting you down?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...