Combating a Toxic Work Environment After College

By Aly Brook

Are you dealing with a ruthless boss post-grad? We have all been there (well hopefully not our new team members...). Walking into the office, fearing the inevitable comments from your boss who seems to have it out for you. Wondering, am I the problem? Am I doing something wrong? Know that you are not alone in this experience, as many college students, recent graduates, and employees of all ages have endured the emotional strain of a boss’s grasp. It’s a big change going from the college world to the work world, so having a rough boss does not help with that transition. 

A 2018 job site poll revealed that 76% of people report that their bosses are toxic, as well as the main reason for leaving the workplace. After speaking with several friends and colleagues on this topic, most people revealed that they had at least one toxic boss that made coming to work unenjoyable. Additionally, they mentioned that their personal lives felt less fulfilling, as they left their work shifts feeling emotionally drained from their boss’s abusive comments. We’re here to promote vibrant post-grad lives and friendships, so abusive bosses don’t cut it for us. 


The Effect on Social Lives Post-Grad 

I wanted to conduct my own poll, which I took to Instagram and asked users, “Has a negative relationship with your boss ever negatively affected your personal life or motivation to connect with others post-grad?” 90% of followers answered that yes, their toxic work environments negatively impacted other areas of their lives, as they felt exhausted after a long day of work and were not driven to attend events and socialize. Socializing is hard enough at this stage of life, so the last thing we need is our bosses making it more difficult on us. 


The Importance of Reporting Toxic Behavior 

It is difficult to report toxic behavior in the office, especially as a recent graduate. We’re kinda the small fish in a big pond now, which can make it tricky. In a 2023 Work Shield article, it was reported that “victims or witnesses fear that their concerns will be minimized, that they might face retaliation, or that their job security could be at risk,” with 58% of people staying silent about this abuse in the workplace. However, staying silent does not fix this mistreatment (unfortunately). Instead, it allows the abusers to continue putting their workers down and to continue fostering destructive workplace relationships.That’s not good. 


Not reporting demeaning comments causes the following: 

  1.  Lower self-esteem: Essentially, it's like telling yourself you don't deserve to sit at the cool table, even though there's a sign with your name on it.
  2. Emotional strain: Coming home feeling like you've just run a marathon, but all you did was survive another day of passive-aggressive emails. 
  3. Diminished job excitement: Remember how you used to feel about your job? Neither do we. 
  4. Increased life stress: Because who doesn't want to spend their evenings stress-eating ice cream and scrolling endlessly on TikTok instead of relaxing? 
  5. Isolation: It's choosing to be a lone wolf in a situation that actually calls for a pack. 
  6. Acceptance of mistreatment: It's like continually eating a bad meal because you don't want to hurt the chef's feelings.  


The Substantial Value of Reaching Out for Help  

Even in a new position, employers should never talk down to you. You deserve just as much respect as they do. If you are feeling lost about this situation and do not know how to proceed (it’s probably a first for most of us...), below are some ways to move forward in this uncomfortable situation: 


Reach Out to Your Support System: A beneficial starting point is reaching out to your closest contacts to lean on, such as family, friends, or coworkers, as they most likely are experiencing this or have in the past. If you need to continue to build your local support system, we would love for you to join our community over here at Social Spark. 


Do Research: How have others dealt with toxic work environments, especially during their first job right out of college? Search for blogs that describe personal experiences of employees and how they went about dealing with their toxic workplace. Muse has at least one good resource worth checking out. example of a beneficial source:  


Consider Your WorkView and LifeView: What values do you want your company to prioritize? Do you want to be part of a company that incorporates team bonding sessions to cultivate positive working relationships? How does your job factor into your life goals? These are essential questions to consider when looking for jobs in the future. Even at our early startup we are still setting long-term and short-term career goals and trying to decipher these views, so you can too. 


Utilize Available Resources: If it seems like the situation will not improve by communicating with your boss, reach out to any available resources, such as your other supervisors, your boss’s supervisor, or your company’s HR office. Good chances they have had to deal with them in the past. They may offer additional guidance on how to resolve the conflict. Keeping a physical record of your boss’s abusive comments will be helpful when reporting on the misconduct. 


Lastly, remember that you are not alone and there are plenty of people that would love to support you during this process. No one deserves to be treated this way! Moving forward, consider whether the company’s values align with your own. If not, you have no obligation to stay, and we'll fully back you up in finding a better place for you <3

Combating a Toxic Work Environment After College
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1 comment

Spot on! Great article


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