How Does a Toxic Work Environment Affect Mental Health?

How Does a Toxic Work Environment Affect Mental Health?

The following article was kindly written and contributed by Shawn Mack

Work from home coupled with a toxic environment in your apparently virtual but substantially influential workplace – that truly is one nightmarish combination! We bet most experienced remote workers can endorse the validity of this statement.

But if you shifted to your virtual workplace recently, then figuring out whether your work environment is toxic or not can be a bit challenging. You might find yourself jumping between I'm overreacting, and I can't take this anymore! You might constantly be facing anxiety, depression, and unreasonable amounts of stress, but not willing to call it quits. Mostly because you don't know if giving up the monthly figure you receive is okay when you're not sure if your work environment is toxic or you're overreacting.

Well, we have formulated this post to help you out with the very concern. Knowing what a toxic work environment and what impact could have on your work performance is extremely important. Getting a clear understanding will not only help you improvise the situation for yourself but others as well. Let's have a look at how exactly.

What Categorizes as Toxic?

A toxic working environment refers to a damaging atmosphere, which negatively impacts the employee's performance at work and also causes disruption in the employee's personal life.

In the virtual world, a toxic work environment has a greater tendency to blend and camouflage. But if you observe the following while you work from home, we encourage you to be confident in your findings:

  • You find yourself working and responding to your managers 24/7
    • You feel discriminated and more discouraged than appreciated for your hard work
    • You feel left out or not included in team-associated subjects
    • Authorities ask you to complete a task without providing your ample resources for it
    • They speak to you unkindly over emails and chats

And well, technically, the list is endless. Summing up, if you feel stressed or under pressure quite too often, then it's time to take note of your team's behavior towards you. Make sure you don't mistake the influences of your personal life, impacting your work-associated deductions and observations.

How Can it Affect the Mental Health of Employees?

On average, employees spend about 1/3 or ½ of their day at their respective workplaces. Be it physically or virtually. Needless to say, spending so much time at a place has a significant impact on one's mental and physical health. For now, let us see the impacts only on mental health.

Beginning with the worst of a toxic environment's impact on mental health: it can lead to negative rumination. And that means the affected employee could be replaying their negative experience in the office throughout the day. It could be a leader's narcissistic behavior towards them or a colleague's unreasonably unkind behavior. They might be replaying it to determine future handling techniques, identify where they went wrong or simply because it disturbed them so much. On the whole, it will ruin the entire of their day, making them mostly dysfunctional for other tasks.

If such a routine continues for a long time, employees are likely to suffer through depression and sleep disorders like insomnia.

Note that this will not only impact the employees' well-being and life but will also turn out to be disastrous for the organisation, too. The turnover rate will increase, and the productivity of the workforce will decrease.

Measures Offices Can Take to Eradicate Toxicity

Protection of mental health and eradication of toxicity from the workplace is not only every employee’s responsibility but also of the workplace authorities. Perhaps, it is better to state that caring about each other’s mental health is every human’s responsibility. Besides, catering to your workforce’s well-being will automatically benefit your business by improving their productivity.

To help you, here are some effective measures to implement in your office:

  • Design employee workshops and training programs, which highlight workplace mental health issues and educates about ways to treat it
    • Promote awareness about understanding emotional misbalances
    • Conduct motivational sessions to back up your employees positively.
    • In severe cases, allow burn-out breaks and relieves
    • Restructure job posts and responsibilities so that a fair and accountable work environment gets established
    • Conduct surveys and observations to ensure employees with work-related mental health issues get professional aid.
    • Create a work atmosphere that allows easy interaction between employees and authorities so that they can communicate concerns without hesitation.
    • Incorporate policies that negate aggressive behaviors and defines the code of conduct.
    • Try to educate about mindfulness activities and meditation for better emotional balance. 
    • Virtual water coolers.

You might be pondering upon the concept behind virtual water cooler? Well, allow us to explain. A virtual water cooler refers to not an actual water cooler but a place in the workplace that enables workers to gather and communicate.

The fundamental objective is to allow the workers to release work stress, chat, and take a break. Workplaces with virtual water coolers not only promote positive feelings amongst team members but also improves mental well-being. 

So, while it is possible to install virtual water coolers in an office, how will you facilitate a remote team? Fortunately, there are several applications and software to benefit from as a remote team manager. Or, you can also develop a new one dedicated to your company’s needs.

Regardless of the remote setting, every employee faces stress and tension. Hence, to cater to all employees, whether it be remote or not, the installation of virtual water coolers can be significantly beneficial. 


Mental health is a sensitive and constantly prevailing issue in the work industry. Whether it be an employee or company owner, it is the responsibility of every individual to address the problem and bring a positive change. So, play your role and be a hero!

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