Does your job have repeated intense physical exertion? Are you exposed to unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions? What about a hostile or threatening work situation? Are your deadlines reasonable, or do you have too much to do in not enough time? Do you take time out of your personal life to do work, all for a dead-end job?

If any of this sounds familiar to you, you're not alone. QZ just reported on a survey from the Rand Corporation that found the following:

  • Nearly three-fourths of Americans report either intense or repetitive physical exertion on the job at least one-quarter of the time.
  • More than one-half of Americans report exposure to unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions.
  • Nearly one in five Americans are exposed to a hostile or threatening social environment at work, such as unwanted sexual attention or verbal abuse.
  • Most Americans (two-thirds) frequently work at high speeds or under tight deadlines, and one in four perceives having too little time to do the job.
  • About one-half of American workers do some work in their free time to meet work demands.
  • Only 38 percent of workers state that their job offers good prospects for advancement.

Unsurprisingly, workers who were not college graduates were more likely to experience negative work environments than those with college degrees. People with degrees are more likely to have flexibility and less likely to face these horrible situations.

What can you do to make sure your workplace isn't so toxic? Besides getting a college degree? Well, since Inc. readers are largely the bosses, here are a few things bosses can do to make the work environment for their employees (and themselves) less toxic.

  • Staff adequately. I know, I know. There's a talent shortage out there. That just means that you need to pay more and train more. It will pay off in the long run. If you're concerned about people taking your training and leaving after a year, ask yourself why they are leaving so quickly. The answer will be staring you in the mirror.
  • Stop bad behavior now. If you hear the slightest rumor about sexual harassment, bullying, or any sort of illegal discrimination, act right now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today. Once people know this behavior won't be tolerated at all, you'll have a much nicer workplace.
  • Stop demanding extra work. If you're the boss, you're probably the cause of the lost free time. If your employees feel compelled to respond to every message within three minutes, that's on your head. I used to work a lot in the middle of the night because I had insomnia.I would write up emails and documents but delayed sending them until normal business hours. Why? Because I noticed that my employees were responding to my emails as soon as they woke up in the morning. They shouldn't suffer for my insomnia.
  • Promote from within. Sometimes this isn't practical, but in a lot of businesses, it absolutely is. The problem is, many companies have promotion and raise rules that makes it beneficial for the employee to quit. If you move to a new company, it will welcome you with a big raise. If you accept an internal promotion, you'll receive a lousy 7 percent increase, because that's "policy." Don't do that. Every salary should be based on the market rate for the job. If you promote someone, bring that employee into the salary range for that position, regardless of whether that's a 5 percent raise or a 25 percent raise.

It's up to us to make workplaces less toxic. Get on it.

Published on: Aug 15, 2017
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