Is your workplace killing you?

Is your workplace killing you?

Is your workplace killing you?

Bob is off on stress leave and thinking of quitting his job.  He is burned out from the pressure to produce in an non-supportive environment, and he feels like they are making things more difficult so he will leave.  He doesn’t want to give in, and he needs the income, but he panics when he thinks about going back and is sinking into a depression.

I often provide employee therapy that is paid for by an FEAP program.  In EAP counselling, you can address any issue you have in your life.  I am grateful for employers who value the mental health of their employees, but many employers don’t see that they have a responsibility to create a safe work environment.  I feel for my clients who are stuck in jobs that are killing them.   Honestly, sometimes I think I should spend a few weeks in a workplace environment, providing therapy to the workplace family.

Abuse of power in the workplace  happens because when you have more than one person, you have the potential for a power dynamic.    When the people who have the power to fire you don’t respect you, this is an abuse of power.   There are many forms of power-tripping at work, and it can be more difficult to leave a  toxic job than a relationship.   Workplace abuse is subtle, disguised by slippery buzz-speak about performance issues or productivity targets.  The job market doesn’t help.  Maybe if jobs were in abundance, employers would be forced to create safer workplaces, but that’s not our reality, which leaves employees feeling powerless.

I like what Brian Fung has to add about workplace health.

Is Canada leading the pack when it comes to creating safe workplaces?  A Toronto Hospital is the first to adopt the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s new National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.    Tracking The Perfect Storm  is an interesting Canadian Workplace Commission paper on why we need safe workplaces.

Maybe therapists should set up camp in office buildings.  Are you listening, reality television?  An Organizational Therapist is a super idea, but how many companies will foot the bill, and if the leadership team is the problem, it’s unlikely to get approved.

So, back to “what can Bob (or you) do?”

Remember that you only have control over what your state of mind is, what you focuses on and how you manage your situation.  Let go of trying to affect what you can’t change.


See a therapist to assist with the above.


Accept that the behaviours of others is not personal.  People bully because they are bullies, not because of anything to do with the victim.


Surround yourself with people who who support you and send you positive messages about yourself.


Create a physical or mental “self-esteem kit”, where you accumulate evidence of your worth, your skills, your value as an employee.


Try a different approach at work.  If staying silent doesn’t work, try speaking up about what you need.  Or try being the beacon of positivity (go away spellcheck, it is so a word!) and joy at work.  Your mood has the power to affect others and if you act happy, you’ll feel happy.  Pass out compliments and praise and see what happens.


Remember that your life is more than your job.  Get exercise, read, cook, play the ukulele, fill your life with good things that have nothing to do with work.


Quit.  Smart people look for a different job as soon as they identify a toxic environment.  Save yourself!  Why do you think I work alone!





1 Comment

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  • Heidi January 23, 2013 Reply

    And after you’ve done everything Lynda says, just let KARMA do it’s magic. That’s my favourite…especially when you get to see KARMA in action 🙂
    Write a blog post for your own blog when you’ve neglected it for 6 months. That’s a great stress reliever.

    Great post, Lynda. It’s a blend of information, tips, and humour. Your voice always shines through. Self-esteem toolkit eh? Hmmm, I’d like to try that one.

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