I’m going to preface this post by saying that this content is not inspired by or referencing my current job. So if any of my coworkers are reading this, I’m not talking about you! 😜
We spend about a third of our life at work. With that kind of time investment, you better like your job! Or at least be passably okay with it.
So when you find yourself in an intolerable work environment, what can you do to, well… tolerate it? Because few of us have enough savings to quit without something else lined up (but, you know, #goals), we have to spend at least a little bit of time in this situation before finding something new.
And to be clear, I’m talking about situations that are intolerable for an extended period of time. There are going to be rough patches at any job, even if you love the work you’re doing and your coworkers.
Even your dream job (including working for yourself) will feel intolerable at times. So sometimes the best action is to just struggle through and wait it out.
But if you’ve been struggling through for months and don’t see an end in sight, here are some strategies for you.
Determine What’s Intolerable
First things first, determine that is making the situation intolerable. Are your coworkers being sexist or racist or forcing their political views on you? Does everyone have a bad attitude? Do you not have the freedom to do what you want or learn new things?
Once you figure out what’s bothering you, you can start to problem solve and figure out your next course of action.
Talk to Management / HR
In some cases, it might be time to involve management and / or HR. If people are doing illegal things or behaving inappropriately, you definitely need to let someone know.
Start with your manager and see what they recommend. If the situation involves your manager or they don’t seem to have answers or care, then escalate it to human resources.
Stop Talking to Toxic People
Other times, making the situation better can be as easy as switching up who you socialize with at work. If someone always seems rude, patronizes you, or talks about you behind your back, stop socializing with them! Collaborate with them when it’s necessary in your role, but limit yourself to just those interactions.
Get Out of the Office When Possible
Sometimes, you just need to get out of the office and clear your head. Depending on your office’s policy, this could be as simple as a walk around the block during lunch, or it could be as extensive as talking with your boss about starting or increasing a work-from-home schedule.
The less time you’re actually spending in the office, the more tolerable it will become. I’m not saying it will magically become a good place to work, but it will help at least a little bit.
Start Looking for a New Job
And finally, start looking for a new job! You spend a lot of your life working, so don’t settle for a toxic environment. And remember what you identified as the intolerable elements of your current job so you can avoid similar environments as you’re applying for something new.
Maybe you hate working for a company that celebrates its sales staff and ignores basically all of the other employees. Avoid applying to sales-heavy businesses! Or maybe you’re over working 60+ hours a week. Ask about extended work hours during your interviews.
It can be really easy to feel trapped in a work environment where you’re uncomfortable. But it doesn’t have to be that way! As difficult as it may be, have a proactive approach to getting out of the intolerable situation and you might be surprised where it leads you.