Notice any of these? It might be time to update your resume!
Everybody has stories about rough days at their workplace. Whether it's difficult customers, frustrating coworkers, or cryptic communication from management, every job presents its share of challenges. There's a huge difference, however, between exhausting workplaces and toxic ones. An exhausting job is exhausting for a while, but toxic workplaces seem to stay toxic. If you notice these signs in your work environment, it might be time to think about where you're going next.
You Have to Actively Spend Time Avoiding People
Sure, everyone has that one coworker. You know the type: the guy who won't stop loudly talking about his keto diet or complaining about how Game of Thrones isn't "historically accurate." Every workplace is bound to have one or two people that you try and avoid, but it's a different story if you find yourself trying to avoid most of your other coworkers.
The average American spends more time around their coworkers than friends or spouses, which means that the people you work with are going to account for a pretty big percentage of your human contact. This doesn't mean that you need to be going out for Happy Hour after every shift, but spending time in a workplace with exhausting coworkers can utterly sap both your social and emotional energy. At the end of the day, working with someone means that you're mutually invested in each other's success to some degree, and it's important that your office dynamics respect that.
If you don't feel like there's any degree of mutual respect or investment among your coworkers, it might be time to look for the exit.
You're Putting in a Lot More Than You're Getting Out
It can be easy to forget that a good workplace needs you just as much as you need it. If you're hitting a point where you don't feel like the work you're doing is worth it, you're probably right.
Workplaces can be a lot like relationships: you want to make sure that you're getting something out of it that justifies all the time and energy that you're expected to put in. If a job is asking you to do things wildly outside of your job description, or looking to reasons to avoid compensating you for your work, it's time to ask yourself if it's worth investing any more energy. Even if you're super comfortable in your position, good work environments offer opportunities to grow, learn new things, and hone new skills. At the end of the day, you are your biggest investment in life, and it's valuable to be in a work environment that lets you see returns on the time you put into it.
Good workplaces don't just create job positions, they invest in people. To that end, if you feel like your job views you as a role and not a person, trust your instincts. Good employers don't need to coerce or beg employees to stay, they cultivate a workplace worth staying at.
You Don't Feel Like Your Time Is Being Respected
Besides your kidneys, your time is just about the most valuable thing you have. One of the biggest signs of a toxic work environment is an utter unwillingness (or inability) to respect that. There are plenty of constructive work environments where work doesn't end at 5 p.m. and projects extend into the weekend. It's worth noting, however, that things like this should be an exception and not the norm.
Even if your job takes up most of your time during the week, you should still be able to have a life outside it. Any job that just expects you to instantly cancel plans or drop everything you're doing likely doesn't respect your time. If you find that this sort of chaotic scheduling applies even when you're on the clock, ask yourself if dealing with the stress and time obligations is worth it. Sure, there are plenty of jobs where putting in extra work means seeing extra results, but also plenty that are so poorly managed that they rely on employees donating a bunch of time in order to accomplish basic day-to-day things.
If you find yourself dealing with the latter, ask if yourself if your time could be better spent elsewhere.
You Don't See a Future at This Job
The whole "where do you see yourself in five years?" question during job interviews isn't entirely hypothetical. Once you get into a functional routine, it's amazing at how quickly the years can fly by. You don't need to have your entire life figured out for the next few decades. You don't even need to have your life figured out for this time next year. However, it's important to feel like your time at this job is a meaningful part of a larger whole.
While you may not be gunning to be the next CEO at your workplace, it's worth having an honest conversation with yourself about where you see your current career trajectory going. Even if your main motivation isn't a paycheck, you still want to make sure that you're getting skills, connections, or credibility out of the work you do. If you feel like there's honestly no difference between working this job for one year or 10, ask yourself what's keeping you there.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but these are important things to keep in mind when assessing your career trajectory. Do you have any other signs that you're in a toxic work environment? Let us know in the comments!