by Allison LaRose

The demands of technology and an ever-shifting global business scene mean increased responsibilities and stress for all professions today. But for those of us in the communications and marketing field, the demands can be even more intense as there is always a new strategy to implement, a new technology to learn, and a new campaign to execute. 

And there are the challenges we all share in working with a variety of personalities, adapting to company culture and processes, and going through performance reviews.

So, how can you differentiate between a challenging work environment and a truly toxic one?

Here are six warning signs that it may be time to look for better opportunities and find a company that focuses on cultivating a positive work environment.

1. Your responsibilities don’t match your job description.

If you discover that what you’re being asked to do is vastly different from what was discussed when you hired in, or you are automatically assigned new duties without the opportunity to discuss them with your manager, this is cause for concern.

Your manager and company may not be considering your career path and professional development. Instead, they are singularly focused on getting someone –anyone− to get the mounting work done. You deserve to work for a company where your contributions and defined role will be truly valued.

2. You are being overworked. 

If you are consistently working an extraordinary number of hours with no end in sight, talk to your manager about the situation to learn whether there are plans to address it.  If your manager doesn’t validate the problem or share any upcoming changes to address it, consider finding a new company where there are adequate resources with well-defined roles and responsibilities.

In the long-term, the burden of too much work can have significant impacts on your mental and physical health, work-life balance and relationships.

3. You or your colleagues are treated differently or being discriminated against on the basis of your race, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, or disability. 

Although discrimination on the basis of many characteristics has been deemed illegal, we all live in a society where prejudices are learned at an early age and are carried into the workplace. Even if you cannot prove discrimination, biases and prejudices display themselves in very insidious ways. If you notice patterns or hear rumors or inappropriate comments about yourself or others, take note that diversity and inclusion are not valued at your workplace.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of workplaces that not only will accept you, but also applaud and celebrate you for bringing your true authentic self to work every day.

4. Your superiors don’t address your concerns. 

At some point everyone has a grievance at work. Whether it is a difficult coworker, an unrealistic deadline, or an overwhelming workload, true leaders will step out of their comfort zone to remedy issues for employees they want to retain. However, if you find that when you bring issues to your boss’ attention you only get lip service, it’s time to seriously consider a new company.

No matter how empathetic or caring superiors may seem, they can only prove themselves with their actions. If your boss won’t stand up for you or take appropriate action to help improve your job satisfaction, it’s time to start looking for someplace else to share your talents.

5. Your mental, physical, and emotional well-being are being compromised. 

Everyone has tough days on the job, but challenges should be short-term and relatively easy to resolve. If you find that you are consistently miserable as a result of the type of work, the workload, or the company culture, start planning your next move!

No amount of money is worth your happiness and health. If you are being asked to work in an unsafe environment, recognize the blatant disregard for your well-being. If you voice your concerns and they are not addressed or taken seriously, there’s a good reason to find a better situation as fast as you can.

6. Double standards are rampant. 

If you notice that certain individuals are given preferential treatment because of who they know or how long they’ve been employees, you are definitely in an undesirable workplace. If company rules are applied arbitrarily and you find yourself under intense scrutiny, but others never are, understand that you will likely never be recognized or appreciated for your contributions.

If you are mired in a stressful work environment, take the time to carefully assess the situation. If you determine that you are working in a hostile or unhealthy environment, act immediately. 

Start planning for the next step in your career, so you can do your best work and be your best self every day, both at work and at home. And while you are working toward your next opportunity, use the support of family, friends, and trusted colleagues to help you remain positive and take good care of yourself.

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Allison LaRose specializes in digital and social media marketing. She has worked in both freelance and corporate capacities in the engineering, business consulting, nonprofit, and real estate industries. Allison is also passionate about writing and editing. Learn more about her experience here.