Bullying, racism, sexism, cronyism, ostracism – a toxic environment makes workers feel on edge, unsafe, burnt out, anxious and downright miserable. Here at The Suite, we’ve heard of some shocking toxic behaviour: The CEO who was renowned for sleeping with A LOT of younger staff members; the MD who took joy in bullying others until they cried (and liked to do it with an audience); the racist comments; the blatant sexist remarks… When workplaces are good, they can be very, very good, but when they are bad, they are truly horrid.
These days, workers are a lot less tolerant of bad boss behaviour with a recent study finding that a toxic workplace culture is the number one reason people leave their jobs. It’s also 10.4 times more likely to contribute to attrition than compensation.
The Lingering Effects Of A Toxic Job
However, while leaving a bad working environment might feel great initially, letting go of the effects of that toxic workplace isn’t always easy. Your past can leave a mark, meaning you then take any feelings of insecurity or reactivity into your next role. This not only affects your performance, but also any enjoyment for fear it may happen again.
So, how can you leave the pain, trauma and toxicity of a bad workplace behind you, and keep moving forward?
Forgiveness, Lessons Learned And Support
First, find some closure. If your blood boils every time you hear your former boss’s name, you’re clearly still harbouring some resentment. Maybe you wish you’d said or done something differently, and you’re as frustrated with yourself as you are angry with the situation. You’re probably never going to get an apology, so to truly move on you’ll need cognitive closure by forgiving them and yourself – you really did the best you could with what you had at the time.
Take time to look at the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Even the most painful of job departures/break-ups can provide opportunities for learning and growth. Remember why you left and always stay grounded in your values. Identifying all of these things help you become aware of your boundaries, which isn’t just important in your new role but in life.
Get some external help if you need it. A coach or mentor is always invaluable when you need some perspective and it’s also important to have a strong support network during times of stress and struggle.
Feel The Emotions – Even Grief
And it’s okay to grieve the loss of your job – even if it was as toxic as hell. Delete all your old files, unfollow any unpleasant ex-colleagues on social media, and write that scathing goodbye/f-you email, where you lay it all out, and send it to everyone. We’re KIDDING, of course. Please don’t send it, whatever you do. Just write it and then delete it. It’ll actually make you feel a little better.