Being part of a toxic workplace can affect a person's mental health. It can cause discomfort and anxiety, and lead the person to question their decision of working at the company. They might avoid interacting with co-workers altogether.
For the company, it can lead to a high attrition rate and a suffocating atmosphere at work. It stunts the growth of the company and prevents success.
However, there are rare occasions when workplace culture is surprisingly progressive. These are companies where the leaders have a high level of understanding of the welfare of the employees. This kind of workplace is where employees thrive and the success of the company skyrockets. But what happens when the bosses are toxic despite the “woke” culture that the company wants to project?
What makes a boss toxic?
Employers are always held responsible for their employees' emotional, psychological, and physical well-being. In Australia, for example, a study revealed an increase of 25% in the mental stress claims lodged by workers against their employers.
Another report by YouGov on behalf of the Australian College of Applied Professions revealed that employees’ return to onsite work will be negatively affected by concerns among 53% of employees about having to interact physically with their managers. Moreover, out of the 1,000 Australians who were part of the study, 65% said that their managers lacked the soft skills such as emotional intelligence necessary to handle a team.
When managers clash with employees or when employers are outright abusive, it raises many questions and doubts for workers. Some examples of abusive behaviours exhibited by bosses include the following:
· Constantly seeks and needs praise
· Creates an atmosphere of frenzy and urgency without respect for employees’ feelings
· Plays favourites
· Takes credit for others’ work
· Abuses and bullies others
· Has mood swings and temper tantrums
· Ignores requests
· Makes unreasonable requests and demands from employees
· Tends to become overly critical of others in public
· Takes decision-making authority away
· Lapses into time-consuming, self-praising anecdotes
A recent study explained that systemic toxic behaviours shown by managers, even if it’s only one or two toxic behaviours, can be enough to cause damage to the workers’ physical and mental health.
For instance, some negative impacts of toxic bosses, as reported by participants in the study, include anxiety, burnout, depression, helplessness, social isolation, cynicism, feeling undervalued, and loss of confidence. Participants also said they felt anger, disappointment, fear, distress, humiliation, mistrust, frustration, and resentment.
How to handle a toxic boss
A toxic boss can be a nightmare to work with. Even if you can’t fire your boss directly, there are several things you can do to handle a toxic boss and ease the burden of dealing with them. Here is a list of actions you can take which will benefit you in the long run:
Escalate the scenario and report it to senior management. Although organisations are reluctant to act against the offender, it is still essential to bring the situation to light to avoid it in the future. Outline the specific behaviours that are causing distress to workers and let the boss know the impact of their behaviour. Disciplinary action should be made if needed.
Avoid impatience, frustration, and anger. Steer clear of offensive, inappropriate, inflammatory, or derogatory language. Do not gossip about your boss. Remain diplomatic, professional, tactful, and try to look at the situation from a different point of view. Stay objective and see the problem as bigger than the two of you.
Seek social support from friends, family, and co-workers. Other employees in your company are probably experiencing the same toxic behaviours from your boss. Reach out to them and start support-group meetings before or after work or during lunch in places onsite. When you meet and talk about problems constructively, you can develop a genuine support system to draw strength from.
To sum it all up, you should avoid any confrontations with your boss, so it does not negatively affect your work. Should you choose to leave your toxic company because of your boss, make sure you have a contingency plan, your resume is up-to-date, and you are ready to move on to the next chapter of your life.