Have you ever had that feeling where you just feel sick going into work? You’re already bracing yourself for the drama and stress before you’ve even walked in the door, and you think, why is it like this?

Unfortunately, 48% of Australian workers think their workplace has a negative impact on their mental health. A massive driver of that is toxic workplace culture — where bullying, fighting, and general unhappiness amongst workers is so bad, it affects both the health and wellbeing of everyone involved. Sound familiar? Here are some of the warning signs that you’re working in a toxic environment:

1. High turnover. Does everyone always seem to be leaving? We get that people move on, but if it feels like there’s a revolving door in your workplace, that can be a bad sign.

2. Gossip + rumours. Does it feel more like Year 10 than a professional salon? Is a colleague saying one thing to your manager’s face and another thing behind their back? Workplace gossip can turn friends into enemies in a heartbeat, and no one wins.

3. You can’t take time off. Have you gone in to work sick because you’re too scared to call your boss? Does asking for a weekend off give you butterflies? Does your boss give you massive guilt-trips the next day and say you’re ‘not a team player?’ Danger zone!!!

4. Constant stress. If you’re always on edge, feeling like nothing you do is good enough, or just generally anxious to come into work the next day, that’s a massive red flag. Listen to your gut instinct!

5. Passive-aggression. Back-handed compliments, sulking when something doesn’t go their way, refusing to help, or making ridiculous demands — passive-aggressive behaviour can make it impossible to stay professional.

We’ve all seen it – the nitpicker who breathes down your neck, the serial blame-gamer who makes out everything is your fault, the manager who isolates you from the rest… the way your boss acts sets the vibe for the whole salon.

Toxic workplace behaviour is dangerous, because it can escalate without warning. Before long, you’re being asked to work through breaks to keep up with appointments, forced to work public holidays, or putting in unpaid overtime hours, or being denied personal or compassionate leave. All of these are unlawful, but we know it happens to far too many workers in the industry.

It’s also dangerous because it can have a negative impact on your health. All those little things add up and lead to sleeplessness, anxiety, burnout and stress. We’ve heard from our own ambassadors how toxic workplaces gave them so much stress and anxiety, it impacted their physical health, put them on extended sick leave, and led them to question if they even wanted to stay in the industry at all.

That’s why it’s so important to look out for the signs and take action. But how can you manage an environment where you know speaking up could land you in trouble? That’s where HSA comes in. We will help support you and make sure you – and your boss – are 100% clear on your rights and entitlements. You’re never alone and as your union, we will always put your needs and wellbeing first. Plus, if things do escalate, we’ve got your back, too.

If the above sounds familiar and you’re not sure what to do, HSA is here to help! Life is too short to hate your job. Reach out to us and we’ll be in touch.