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 Award-winning business author and broadcaster

Leadership trainer and coach

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  • Madison Julien (Guest Author)

GUEST AUTHOR: Toxic Work Habits to Get Rid Of

Updated: Jul 25, 2022

Delighted to feature this guest blog from Madison Julien.

It’s safe to say that a lot has changed over the past few months. The workplace, for one, is shifting and forcing companies to re-evaluate and redefine their culture. For professionals, there are many work habits that can be improved upon, especially these toxic ones that should be eliminated.

• Having too many meetings

Before the pandemic, the average UK employee spent 5 hours and 47 minutes in weekly meetings and nearly 5 hours to prepare for them. But studies have deemed most of them unnecessary, even counterproductive. Today, there’s a lot more pressure to maintain constant communication as many teams experiment with remote work. The way to keep meetings from being toxic is to test the technology, distribute an agenda beforehand and stick to it.

• Working too much or too little

Taking on a heavy workload or attempting to multitask is toxic for obvious reasons. Even if you can rise to the occasion, you need to be assertive so that you don’t become a dumping ground for difficult or unwanted tasks. In the same vein, you don’t want to be doing too little or procrastinating. Just doing the bare minimum doesn’t pave the way for professional and personal growth.

Not taking enough breaks

Setting boundaries at work includes taking enough quality breaks to avoid getting burnt out. One habit you may not realise is toxic is eating at your desk, with Pain Free Working explaining how it takes a toll on your physical and mental health. For one, taking your breaks at your work desk means you’re not getting enough movement throughout the day. You’re also depriving yourself time to relax, which can lead to a build up of stress.

• Working after hours

Another damaging work habit you need to eliminate immediately is working beyond normal hours. This includes checking your e-mails and messages after work, which Bustle points out is not only bad for your mental health but also your personal relationships. Create a healthy work schedule so you can attend to your personal needs, as well as your partner or family’s needs.

• Being cold or aloof in the workplace

Showing empathy to your coworkers is needed now more than ever. We’re all experiencing stress and anxiety to varying degrees and it can be alleviated by a simple 'How are you?' from a friend or co-worker. Fast Company's list of expressions you can use when talking to your colleagues also includes 'I’m sorry to hear that,' and 'I would feel the same way.' More importantly, ask how you can extend help — even a small gesture can go a long way towards cultivating a more caring and empathetic working environment.

• Having the wrong motivation

The most toxic of all is being motivated to work for the wrong things. There are two prevailing narratives today, which are to follow the money or follow your passion. Only you can say which one is right for you. As Dan Lok said, doing what you love is pretty much the best case scenario. If your passion happens to be a lucrative field, then go for it! But if it’s something unsustainable, then you probably should look for a better-paying job first. That doesn’t mean your dreams will go to waste. It just means you need to safeguard your present so you can have the future you've always wanted.

Madison Julien is an HR consultant with a background in behavioural sciences. When she's not working, Madison enjoys gardening and spending time with her two sons.

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