Is a Toxic Job Adding Too Much Stress?

Toxic workplaces are bad for your mental and physical health.  In a recent survey, an astonishing 53 percent of workers said their place of employment brings no happiness to their lives.  Too many Americans are trapped in toxic jobs. Are you one of those people?  Perhaps it is time to do something about it.

Toxic Job

What Is a Toxic Job or Workplace

toxic workplace can be defined as any job where the work, the atmosphere, the people, or any combination of those things cause serious disruptions in the rest of your life.

The interruptions can include “sleepless nights, feeling constantly vigilant, sweaty palms, and a racing heartbeat.”

A toxic workplace also has negative health impacts that can affect your personal life by damaging everything from your self-esteem to your friendships.

Signs of a Toxic Workplace

Below are some solid indicators of a toxic work environment:

  • Employee Sickness

    Toxic workplaces lead to employee burnout, fatigue, and illness due to high levels of stress that wreak havoc on our bodies. If people are calling in sick or worse, are working sick, that’s a good sign of a toxic work environment.

  • Employees Are Not Using Their Vacation Days

It is estimated that 54 percent of employees only take half of their vacation days for fear they will fall too far behind and a whopping 66 percent do work-related activities when they do use vacation days.   So employees never truly relax.

  • High Turnover

When the work environment has nothing good to offer except dysfunction, poor morale, and sickness, people will start heading for the door to find a better situation. If you notice a high turnover rate in your company or department, take that as a sign of a toxic workplace.

  • Narcissistic Leadership

Your higher-ups demand that you always agree with them, tell them they’re right, and feel they’re above the rules. They expect everyone else to be perfect while they can meet lower standards.

  • Employees Stuck Behind a Desk All Day

The average worker spends 9 hours a day sitting down.  Sitting that much increases the risk of premature death and the worker’s chances of developing diabetes by 25 percent.  Productivity and efficiency could be increased by standing and movement

  • Little to No Enthusiasm

Look around the office. Is anyone happy to be working there? Is anyone smiling? Are conversations positive and upbeat? Is anyone talking at all? A ”no” to these questions equals toxicity.  If employers discourage conversation between employees, that is even more toxic.

  • Lack of Communication or Negative Communication

You and others don’t get the necessary information to do your job. You work hard with no positive feedback and no recognition, and you might even be told to be glad you have a job at all.

  • Cliques, Gossip, and Rumors

Everyone seems to be out for themselves, and there are no genuine friendships among employees. There’s lots of infighting and paranoia as well as gossip and rumors.  Gossip tends to trickle through poor communication channels, and it starts at the top.  Did you know gossip is actually a form of workplace violence?

Signs You are Affected by a Toxic Job

Your body may know before your brain that your job is to blame for your stress symptoms, sending you red alerts that you are not okay.

Muscle Aches

When your job is toxic, it can feel like you’re fighting off a wild tiger at your desk. Under a perceived threat, your brains flood your system with adrenaline and other stress hormones.

Insomnia

Not being able to sleep because your mind is racing or not being able to stay asleep. You wake up in the middle of the night thinking about your to-do list.

A few restless nights is not a huge deal, but if it becomes a pattern, that may be a sign your job stress has become toxic.

Headaches

Your muscles tense up to guard your body against injury. When you see the workplace as a danger zone, it keeps your muscles wound tight, according to the American Psychological Association. Chronic tension in the neck, shoulders, and head can be associated with migraines and tension headaches.

Increased Sickness

If you are catching colds constantly, consider how you are feeling about your job.  Research shows that chronic stress can compromise the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.

Mental Health Issues

Increased stress can exacerbate existing mental health issues.

Tiredness

This is fatigue, a bone-deep weariness that no nap or weekend catchup seems to cure.

Appetite Changes

Your appetite is closely linked to your brain. Under acute stress, your fight-or-flight response releases adrenaline, telling your body to suppress digestion to focus on saving us from a perceived danger.  When your job is causing long-term emotional distress, you may turn to food for comfort.

Less Interest in Sex

The American Psychological Association notes that when women have to juggle professional stress on top of their ongoing personal and financial obligations, it can reduce sexual desire. For men, this chronic stress can result in lower testosterone production, which in turn leads to lower libido.

Relaxation and time are imperative and many people report not having enough time to have sex.

In addition to the list above, trust your gut if it tells you something is wrong. Once you know what you’re dealing with, it’s time to develop strategies that can help you stay sane and deal with the toxic environment you are working in.

What Can You Do?

  • Start your exit strategy.

Start making the plans to look for a new job.  Since it takes time to find a new job,  begin your search and then take steps to improve the current situation.  This will help you stay positive when things get tough. If you needed to leave yesterday, consider a bridge job that will keep you active while you find something in line with your career.

  • Create lists to keep yourself busy.

A list can help you stay focused on your tasks instead of the toxic atmosphere and gives you a reason to keep going every day.

  • Try to develop friendships.

Even if it is just one person, it is a bright spot in your day.

  • Document everything you do.

Save emails and write down comments and decisions from meetings, phone calls, and every person who interacts with you. If you need to file a complaint, you will need the evidence to back your claim.

  • Do something after work that can help relieve stress.

Go to the gym, do home repairs, or learn a new skill. The key is to make sure you’re living a fulfilling life outside of work to combat the drama of your 9 to 5.

  • Take breaks. 

As you go through the day, take breaks to talk with co-workers, walk around the building, eat a healthy snack, do some exercises at your desk.  Whatever it takes to give your mind an escape for a few minutes.

  • Use your vacation time. 

Find a way to use it.  Even if it means taking one day per week or extended weekends off.  You need time away from your job to relax and rest.   Do something fun when off.  You don’t need to go to an exotic location to get the benefits of a vacation.  Consider reading the book you have had on your nightstand for a while.  Or spending time working in your yard or sleeping in each day.   Whatever makes you feel relaxed and rested.

Knowing the signs of a toxic job or work environment and how to handle it will allow you to take your next step if and when you feel the time is right.

Other Posts of Interest

11 Tips for Work and Life Balance To Avoid Burnout

Rate Your Workplace Happiness

Top 10 Things to Do When Leaving a Job

Do You Need Help?

 If you need help planning an exit strategy and getting ready for the job search so your next job will be a place you truly enjoy working, your Career Coach, Rachel Schneider at Career Find and schedule a consultation.
By |2019-06-15T11:36:47-05:00April 16th, 2019|Job Stress|Comments Off on Is a Toxic Job Adding Too Much Stress?

Top 10 Tips to Ace Virtual Interviews

You have applied for your dream job and they have contacted you for an interview.  Surprise…it is a virtual interview.  You’ve never done one of them before and now you are getting nervous.
Virtual Interviews
Virtual interviews are becoming commonplace now to cut down on travel costs.  Usually, they are used for your first round and employers use them to get to know you and determine if they wish to move you to the next round of interviews.  But some companies are using them for second and third round interviews as well.  So it is important you are prepared for this type of interview and know how to use the technology.

Tips

So how do you make a good impression and ace the interview?  Here are a few tips to help”

1. Look at the Camera

By looking at the camera, the person on the receiving end thinks you are looking at them.   If you are watching the computer screen it appears you are looking at the keyboard and not paying attention.  If you want to watch yourself onscreen, move the box closer to the top near your camera lens.  This also cuts down on drastic eye movements.

2. Lighting

Make sure you have sufficient light in the room where you will be interviewing.  The interviewer will want to see you, not shadows.

3. Dress Professional

Dress for an interview from head to toe.  If they ask for something and you need to get up to get it, you will look ridiculous if you are only dressed professionally from the waist up.

4. Grooming is Essential

The interviewer will probably see you up-close on the screen.  Most likely closer than they would during a regular interview, it is important to make sure you have taken some time to groom yourself.  Comb your hair, brush your teeth, floss, remove unwanted facial hair, and use some light make-up if female.

5. Background is Important

Set your computer or phone up in front of a calm area without distracting things in the background.   Everything they see will shape what they think of you.  Don’t skip this step.  I have heard of candidates who did not get jobs because of all the clutter in the room.

6. Colors to Wear

While you want to be professional, you also want to wear colors that complement your complexion and are not too busy on the screen.
  • Refrain from polka dots or busy prints.
  • Stick with solid colors if possible.
  • Avoid white, bright red and all-black outfits. All three of these colors pose technical problems.
  • Jewel colors show up best.
  • Keep jewelry simple.

7. Sounds

We talked about distracting visual backgrounds, quiet the noise.  Sounds can be distracting to you and the interviewer.

8. Speak Clearly

Now is not the time to mumble.  Make sure you practice speaking clearly and loud enough so the interviewer can hear you.

9. Important Documents

Have a copy of your resume next to you, as well as paper and pen to take notes, and some pre-written interview questions (At least two) that you want to ask them.  Treat this the same as an in-person interview.

10. Practice

Do a few trial-runs with someone to see how you look, sound, and how comfortable this interviewing format is.   It helps to use the technology in advance so you feel confident.  It IS unnerving, so to rock out, you need to try to practice to feel comfortable and shine.
Follow these tips and you should have a great virtual interview.

Do You Need More Help?

If you would like more help preparing for a virtual interview, consider working with me, your Career Coach, Rachel Schneider, at Career Find.  We can schedule a meeting to create a resume that will differentiate you from other candidates and practice virtual interviewing.

By |2019-05-06T10:07:59-05:00February 12th, 2019|Job Interview|Comments Off on Top 10 Tips to Ace Virtual Interviews

Are You Dreaming of Early Retirement?

Do you dream of early retirement?  Many people do.  Thinking about retiring early and not following someone else’s schedule is appealing.

Early Retirement

As many young people dream of retiring early, there are many  workers in their 50’s and 60’s that wonder if it will be possible to retire at regular retirement age.  Some feel they will need to work till 70 and beyond.

What about you?

Are you interested in exploring an early retirement?

Early retirement is possible but it requires planning, sacrifices now, and focus on a long term goal.   Planning from the perspective of finances and all the perks that come with having a full-time job such as vacation time, sick time, health insurance, etc.   Will you replace them and if so, how?

FIRE Movement

There is a current movement toward Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE).

Greg Daugherty, a Personal Finance Writer, who has researched people who retired in their 30’s, points out the three steps to make early retirement a reality:

  • Embrace a frugal lifestyle.
  • Save like crazy­ – 75 percent or more of your income — and invest the money.
  • Once your investments are sufficient to support that very frugal lifestyle for the rest of your life, consider yourself free to retire.

The FIRE movement is not for everyone.   If you have children or other responsibilities, saving 75% of your income might be impossible.  So are you doomed to work till you are 70?

You don’t have to retire in your 30’s.   Making adjustments when young can allow you to at least be on track to survive leaving your job at normal retirement age or to perhaps retire 5 or 10 years early.

Small Adjustments

Some adjustments that are easy to implement now no matter what age you currently are:

  • Earmark any raises, bonuses, and tax returns to go directly to savings.
  • Buy used cars instead of new and invest the difference.
  • Learn to cook so you will spend less on meals out and eat healthier.
  • Take care of your health. It is easier to retire healthy than if you have a lot of medical issues that will make insurance expensive.
  • Learn to live with less. You don’t have to make drastic cuts but small cuts to expenses every month add up.  Do you need all those extra cable stations, do you need a new cell phone, do you need the latest tech, are those designer clothes a must?   Little savings add up.
  • Cut back on luxury vacations.
  • Research costs of things such as health care, etc. so you are prepared and don’t have sticker shock after you quit your job.
  • Invest the money you save so it works for you.
  • Plan ahead. Do you want to retire 5 years early, 10 years?   How much money will you need?

Sometimes retiring early doesn’t mean you stop working.  It means you no longer work the job that is currently paying the bills.  It might mean you now have the time to work on your own schedule.  Maybe you now have time to start your own business or work for a non-profit that you are passionate about on a part-time basis.

Mr. Money Mustache, a financial writer states, “Financial independence is not an age-related concept,” he says. “It simply means your income from sources other than work is enough to pay for your lifestyle.”   Those sources can vary from pensions, savings, passive income, to part-time work.

It Is Possible

Whatever you are dreaming retirement will be, just know it is possible.  But to make it a reality you need to plan ahead and make some changes now while you are employed to make it happen.

By |2019-05-06T10:08:42-05:00January 8th, 2019|Retirement|Comments Off on Are You Dreaming of Early Retirement?