Toxic workplaces: bad! While this notion has been obvious for quite some time, it is now enshrined in federal health recommendations, thanks to a new warning from the office of surgeon general Vivek Murthy advocating for work-life balance.
The surgeon general, whose public announcements are typically focused on more immediate physical concerns like Juuls and vaccines, seems to have added overworking to his repertoire. “Toxic workplaces are harmful to workers,” he told The Wall Street Journal, “to their mental health, and it turns out, to their physical health as well.” In the report, he characterized “toxic” work cultures as “disrespectful, non-inclusive, unethical, cutthroat, and abusive” but also mentioned a host of other workplace stressors: “heavy workloads, long commutes, unpredictable schedules, limited autonomy, long work hours, multiple jobs, low wages,” not to mention “hostile or dangerous working conditions, harassment, and discrimination.” Citing studies that link chronic stress to sleeping problems, substance abuse, depression, vulnerability to infection, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, he wrote, “While federal and state laws represent a minimum floor of protections for workers, organizations and employers can do more.”
With that in mind, Murthy laid out an elaborate framework outlining how employers can invest in their employees’ health, emphasizing that it lies largely in the hands of a workplace’s leadership. The outline, divided into five pillars he says are key to “workplace well-being,” recommends allowing more paid time off, paying workers a living wage, introducing policies to limit communication outside work hours, offering benefits packages that include mental-health care, and giving workers the flexibility to decide their own hours and whether they want to work remotely.
“People are asking themselves what they want out of work,” Murthy told WSJ. “They’re also asking themselves what they’re willing to sacrifice for work, and the fundamental questions are reshaping people’s relationships with the workplace.” Sounds like this man has been on “quiet quitting” TikTok.