The purpose of this articles is to shed light on the issue of toxic work environment, its signs and symptoms to enable one identify the red flags and take steps to resolve it and create safe and healthy work spaces.
This is to raise awareness of the prevalence of toxic environments in all sectors both private, corporate and public sector in order to encourage individuals to take action to address and overcome them.
Furthermore, encourage employers, human resource (HR) experts and public service to investigate these occurrences and take policy, regulatory and action steps to address these issues in line with Uganda’s Vision 2040 that identifies human capital development as a key fundamental for development. In public service, the Human Resource needs to develop efficient and effective HR planning, policies, plans, standards, strategies and guidelines for public service delivery, I feel mental health issues and mindset transformation should be at the center of human development. Uganda Revenue Authority can be a bench mark for introducing free counselling for their employees and their families.
Also, set up mechanisms like confidential grievance mechanisms, independent disciplinary committees, incorporate mental health awareness, leadership training on technical and soft skills into management training/ inductions, implement regulations, encourage appraisal of leaders by juniors, protect victims of abuse not exposing them to victim shame and give psycho – social support and free counselling services to employees.
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When I decided to write this article, my friends and relatives discouraged me from writing the article because they advised that since I had suffered the consequences of workplace toxicity, there individuals in my department that would feel targeted and would retaliate.
I must admit that I was terrified because I love my job and what I do, I have benefitted a lot in terms of experience and exposure and to the common man I have absolutely nothing to complain about, am simply an ingrate. However, despite these perks which am thankful to God for and my managers for allowing God to use them to bless my life, I cannot turn a blind eye to my reality which is I work in a toxic work environment.
Everyone is a potential victim of toxic work spaces either directly or indirectly!
This is because your partner may be stressed as a result of toxic work spaces and burnt out and suffer physical and emotional exhaustion, then he or she, angrily lashes out at their spouse, house help or the children, it could lead to child and domestic abuse.
The employees in order to cope, may abuse alcohol, ignore the signs of burnout or stress and suffer from mental health disorder like depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, high blood pressure, auto immune diseases, life style diseases, over eating leading to obesity, lack of sleep, abuse of sleep medications and pain killers, drink a lot of coffee, take drugs, cigarettes, sexual promiscuity as an outlet and abuse social media to vent since they feel gagged and unheard. [Doctors kindly speak out].
I work in the public sector with clear regulations and structures one would think excesses of power and a toxic environment would not exist. Unfortunately, it does because of the silence of the employees.
In law silence means consent! Speak out and protect your mental and physical health.
A toxic work environment is: –
where negativity, bullying and antagonistic behavior is the norm.
Where there is poor or no communication strategy in the organisation and with clients.
Where there are cliques, silos, exclusion, gossip thrives as a means of communication.
Authoritarian and dictatorial leadership leading to control, manipulation and micro management.
A few green eyed colleagues benefit from career growth and rest suffer from stifled career growth.
Rapid employee turn over
Little work life balance because the employer wants control of all your time.
Employees suffer from burn out
Many employees feel stuck and frustrated.
Mental health challenges like stress, loss of sleep, depression, humiliation, low self- esteem, gagging, ignoring voices of employees, low morale, tension all resulting in low productivity or quantity over quality.
There is a tendency towards gas lighting, undermining, toxic competition, no collaboration, passive aggressive behavior, tolerance of immoral and unethical behavior due to silencing.
Put on Katebe (meaning not getting assignments for long periods of time yet expected to be at work) deprived work so you either get frustrate