People put up with a lot of things over the course of their professional careers, but there are some situations we just should never tolerate. Sure, stress is one thing. Work can be a high-stress environment, and that can cause some people issues. But stress can be a good thing. Tension can be a good thing. Bullying, cruelty, and all that? Not so much. Sometimes, a toxic environment can not only hurt your work career but also your emotional well-being. Even, in some cases, your physical well-being. When one takes into account what you need to succeed in your career, it becomes clear that there are a few things you should never tolerate in a healthy, safe workplace.
Bullying and Intimidation
It’s a sad fact that bullying and intimidation are commonplace in many offices and work environments. Whether it is an abusive boss or a dismissive co-worker, the effects of bullying can be harmful to your mental wellness and overall health. Bullying takes many forms. Being dismissed, ignored and being unduly criticized are all forms of bullying and should not be accepted.
Long lasting consequences of this kind of behavior can include loss of confidence, depression and even post traumatic stress. As important as your career may be to you, it’s not worth ruining your mental health. Besides, all that tension can have a detrimental impact on your work career.
If you feel you are being bullied or intimidated by your boss or colleagues, try to speak informally to the person who’s behaving inappropriately so you both can resolve the issue quickly. If that doesn’t work, speak to your HR department or manager.
Above all, record any bullying behavior. One hopes you won’t need to refer to these records in the future, but, if you ever do, make sure you have clear notes on dates, situations, and what was said or done.
Unsafe or Unhealthy Work Practices
Nobody should be working in an environment that is unsafe or unhealthy. There are Health and Safety Laws in place to protect you, the worker, from injury or illness, but some companies may be a bit more relaxed about enforcing them than others.
Being put in harm’s way is not something you should tolerate in your career. You have the right to refuse to do something you believe is dangerous or may cause harm to yourself or others.
Remember that it’s not just your physical health that can be harmed in the workplace. Your mental and emotional health also needs to be protected. Skipping lunch, working abnormally long hours or missing out on sleep to get a job done may be required from time to time, but make sure this is the exception rather than the norm.
In the long-term, this kind of lifestyle is not sustainable and could lead to burn-out. You may think that burning the candle at both ends will lead to that promotion, a pay-raise, or demanding the respect of your superiors, but, ultimately, it is your body and mind that will suffer. And, ultimately, your career will suffer.
Sacrificing Personal Values
It’s easy to do. Your boss needs a report on his desk on Monday morning. There go your Sunday plans with the family. Didn’t get a project finished by close of business? Bye-bye dinner plans. Of course, there are those rare times when you just have to do it. Your family will understand. Your friends will forgive you. But what happens when "Every once in awhile" becomes "Every night?"
Your personal time is yours. Your boss, your job, and your career have no place at your dinner table or at your children’s school plays or on your cosy night in with your partner. Minimize the amount of time you spend working when you’re not actually at work. Separate your career and your personal life because neither of them will benefit from getting caught up in the other. Your family and friends will tolerate your absence for so long before they become resentful. Don’t risk those relationships. Don’t allow your career to cloud your judgement of what’s really important.
You have a set of standards that you live by: a moral code and a way of behaving that you have learned and lived by. When it comes to the workplace, though, you may be expected to bend rules or to behave in ways that make you feel uncomfortable.
Life would be simpler to just accept that this is how your company operates. It's good for your career that you just accept this, right?
Don’t let your values go out the window. If you are made to feel uncomfortable about practices you witness at work, then you need to bring it to the attention of your HR department or boss. If you notice unusual activity in the company’s finances or if you find that members of staff are being treated in a manner you believe is unfair, or if any other company practice makes you uncomfortable, then you have a moral (and possibly legal) obligation to raise this issue with your company. Operating under questionable circumstances will not do you or your career any favors.
You know what you’re worth. Make sure others do to. From the very first stages of a new career, make it clear what salary expectations you have and know what kind of career progression and personal development opportunities are available to you.
If you feel you are being underpaid in your current job, take a moment to reasonably assess your value, note your contribution to your company and ask your HR department or your boss for a salary review. It may be that they just didn’t realize how much you do.
Remember that value is not just about financial reward. There are many ways you can be made to feel undervalued or unappreciated at work. The important thing is that you recognize you have done a good job, and don’t be afraid to point it out to your boss or supervisor when you get a good result. If it’s still not recognized, then the problem clearly lies with your boss or supervisor and their poor leadership skills.
Above all, take care of yourself. Set your own boundaries and know where your limits are. Once you know the things you shouldn’t tolerate in your career, you have already taken the first steps towards a successful, happy and healthy future.