The last two years have seen a huge shift in how the world does business. While it provides many opportunities, it has also exposed some serious social and mental health concerns for employees. Although some issues stem from the reengineering of the workforce, transitioning to a remote environment has also brought many issues of toxic work cultures into the spotlight.
So, if you are feeling burnt out, lonely, or undervalued, you’re not alone. Many of us have been taken advantage of and suffered through the day-to-day drudgery of a toxic workplace. But, this could be harming you more than you realize.
Here’s why it’s important to choose a job that’s good for your financial and mental health.
The Financial Strain of the Underpaid
When you are first starting out, you should expect to be on the low end of the salary spectrum in any field. Even if you have the right certifications and are highly qualified for the position, you must gain hands-on experience. Once you have put the time in, your salary should increase to reflect this.
However, stingy companies and penny-pinching CEOs will be hard-pressed to give their employees the compensation they deserve. In my experience, this meant denying raises, forgoing end-of-year bonuses, and canceling events or festivities on the company’s dime. Meanwhile, the top executives usually don’t have to make the same sacrifices.
Not only is it unfair, but it is a major red flag that you have a toxic work environment. Unfortunately, it is a widespread problem which I have seen around the world. I have worked for several employers in multiple countries where it has happened. Companies under-value their staff who have few options and have no choice but to accept the low wages.
In addition to lowering morale and reinforcing an unhealthy dynamic, it creates a huge financial strain for these employees. Although inflation and the cost of living continue to rise, employees’ incomes remain stagnant. This makes it harder to stretch the budget and nearly impossible to build savings.
The Mental Health Toll
In addition to the financial impacts, a toxic workplace takes a heavy toll on your mental health. Employees in these environments report higher rates of chronic stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and burnout. Furthermore, health professionals also warn that these factors can also lower your immune response and cause you to get sick more often.
At one point in my career, it was so severe that I showed all of these symptoms simultaneously. The worst part was how long it took me to recognize the signs of a toxic workplace. I continued to push through, believing that I was the problem. Instead of trusting my abilities and training, I felt like my work was never good enough.
I can recall one manager, in particular, that would micromanage menial tasks and force employees to redo them as a way to exert her dominance over everyone. While I’m sure she justified it as a means to establish her authority, it created a hostile workspace.
Although I’m no longer there, the truth is that I am still dealing with the repercussions today. It has taken me years to rebuild my self-confidence and understand my own worth after years of verbal abuse from my superiors.
10 Signs Your Job Is Affecting Your Financial and Mental Health
I overlooked several red flags early on that led to a decline in my overall well-being. While there are several indications that you work in a toxic workplace, these were the 10 signs which told me that my job was affecting my financial and mental health:
- An unhealthy work-life balance
- Unrealistic expectations and demands from my superiors
- No respect for personal boundaries
- No encouragement for input from employees
- Lack of acknowledgment or appreciation for employee efforts
- Every task is micromanaged
- Work is affecting your sleeping habits
- No opportunities for professional advancement
- A general lack of enthusiasm for the job
- Regularly thinking about quitting
This list is by no means all-inclusive. However, it provided me with a tangible checklist that made me realize that I was in an unhealthy situation. For me, all signs pointed to one conclusion: it was time for a change.
Finding a Job That’s Good for Your Financial and Mental Health
Once I realized I had had enough of the verbal abuse, it became easier to enforce boundaries. For months, I received extra tasks, was bullied to work for free, and berated in front of my coworkers. After yet another one of temper tantrums, I simply told my supervisor I was done and walked away. I maintained my professionalism and gave my two-weeks notice, but checked out from her mental gymnastics.
Determined to have a fresh start, I decided it was time to go into business for myself. Never again would I subject myself to abusive bosses or toxic workplaces. Instead, I could create my own professional atmosphere and job that promoted positive financial and mental health.
However, starting your own business is easier said than done. I needed to find a viable career path for my skill set. So, I performed an honest self-assessment to see what my options were. With a strong background in communication, grammar, writing, and copy editing, I began researching what it would take to become a freelance writer. Since I already had acquaintances who had made the same career move, I discussed my situation and consulted with them as I got started.
Over the next year, I spent time networking with other freelancers, making new contacts in the industry, and finding ways to attract new clients. I’m proud to say that all my efforts have paid off. What was once a side hustle in college has now blossomed into a full-time career.
I won’t be making millions, but I’m much happier doing work I enjoy with people I respect. The sense of fulfillment and satisfaction with life is much greater than any financial loss.
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