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12 signs you’re in a toxic veterinary work environment

Let’s talk about toxic veterinary workplaces.
We’ve all been there to some degree, and I feel it’s important to be aware of a few things that might contribute to that.

12 signs you’re in a toxic work environment

1. Presence of bullying and gossip
Whether you have seen it, heard it, or been a part of it – this hurts people, damages professional relationships, and negatively impacts teamwork.

2. There’s an unhealthy level of competitiveness amongst colleagues.
A little competition can be a great motivator to increase morale, encourage staff to meet KPI’s or instil a little excitement into a work activity. However, when this competitiveness turns nasty and egos, condescension, and pride become more important than the purpose of the activity, then the situation has usually become completely unproductive and can have the opposite of the desired effect on your team.

3. Superiority complex
If even one staff member believes they are better, more important, or more valuable than another, it can create an uncomfortable dynamic within your team and affect how well each member works with one another.

4. Poor leadership
Every team needs a leader. Someone to guide, motivate and encourage others. However, when this system fails or leaders fail to step up to the task, then the whole team suffers.

5. Hazardous working conditions
Every person has a right to working conditions that are not hazardous to their health and wellbeing. Should certain hazards exist, systems should be in place to minimise risk and protect you and your team. If these do not exist or are not enforced within your workplace – speak up!

6. Fault finding
We cannot work effectively and efficiently if we are afraid that everything we do will be scrutinised, judged and criticised. If there is a better way of doing something, it should be discussed as a team, planned, and systematically implemented to allow all staff the chance to thrive.

7. Lack of communication
This goes without saying…No one is a mind reader.
For things to run smoothly we must always have open lines of communication with employers, our team, support staff as well as clients. Employers should also provide opportunities for all staff to communicate any matters (personal, professional, positive or negative) to the appropriate persons.

8. Questionable standards of practice
If you feel your workplace has questionable standards of care or practices that could cause harm to your reputation or qualifications – then this is NOT ok!

9. Lack of work-home life balance
Work-home life balance means something slightly different to every person. So if you feel your personal life is suffering because of your work, and this is causing you stress and anxiety, then it’s likely that you need to assess whether your current work/home life situation is the most suitable for you.

10. Constant emotional or physical burnout
Burnout is a common occurrence within the veterinary industry. We try to avoid it by working on things like the abovementioned work-home life balance. However, if we are unable to make the necessary changes required to cope with these emotional and physically demanding job roles, then we often find ourselves more burnt out than not. Time to reassess and re-set!

11. Feeling stagnant
Sometimes we love our jobs, our clients, and the people we work with, but may still feel a sense of being trapped or we feel like our careers just aren’t growing or taking us in the direction we feel we could/should be going. It’s ok to want something more – even if what we have is still pretty good! Do what’s best for you!

12. Dread
If you feel a sense of dread, anxiety, panic, or nausea every time you have to go into your workplace or think about your job…it’s probably time to admit that your current situation isn’t a healthy one for you.

Talk to someone you trust about your concerns.

It’s ok to say no!
It’s ok to be yourself!
It’s ok to take a break!
It’s ok to seek something that’s better for you!

By: Melissa Giles
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