As I begin to write this article I wonder what my boss would think by just reading the title. Based on my experience as his employer, he would take this really personal and question/lecture me for half an hour about why I should think he’s the nicest boss in the world. First of all, he’d be right to take this personal, because this article IS about my boss.
For the mere context of what my boss is like at work, here is an example: On Wednesday mornings my boss is usually in a good mood and greets all of his employees with a “good morning” as soon as we step in the door. Last Wednesday was exactly like this. Then at about 2pm, when the rest of my coworkers have clocked out and I am the only one left, my boss gets a call from an angry customer. After they hang up my boss yells at himself, “Come on Jim! You’re such a moron!!” from his office, which is two feet away from everyone else’s work space.
At this point my anxiety levels have already risen because I know that I cannot go to him for any questions, because he will act as if I am the most irresponsible and ill suited person for this job, and all because he is now in a bad mood. Because I’m the only one there and I’m stuck with a new system that I have not yet been trained to use, I have a question that only he can answer. When I ask him I get treated exactly the way I expected to be treated. My boss lectures me for 30 minutes about how I have not been giving him my “100% effort”, and I know he is only saying this because he is in a bad mood. I have heard him give these speeches over and over again in the 3 month span that I have been working for him, simply because he is in a bad mood. I know this because after an hour or two, once my boss recollects his emotions and feels better, he comes up to whoever he lectured and is extra super nice to them by gifting them with fake praises about what a good job they are doing.
Even though I know these are passive aggressive characteristics on my boss’s side that he has not learned how to control, my anxiety levels rise every time someone gets him in a bad mood. This is all too relatable to my aggressive upbringings, and the anxiety my boss gives me is not something I can tell him without the fear of losing my job that keeps me under a roof and fed.
There is some emotional hardship that comes along with recognizing when someone is being toxic towards you, and what I mean by this is that sometimes being unaware of the things that are slowly affecting you keeps you from thinking there is a problem in the first place. For example, I’ve noticed that out of four of my coworkers, only one other person has noticed the toxicity in our bosses passive aggressiveness and it seems to affect us more than the rest.
However, I could be misconstruing the lack of complaints from the rest of my coworkers because according to this article “Less than one-third of Americans are happy with their work. Half of the workforce is ‘checked-out.’ Eighteen percent are unhappy with their current position…” Which means that a lot of people are unhappy in their workplace, for various reasons, even if they are not complaining about it.
However, the one reason that is almost never taken serious is people’s mental health status in the workplace.
As Marx explains, workers roles in society often become a cycle where “the more powerful labor becomes, the more powerless becomes the worker”, because for the working class having a stable mental health is a “luxury” that we cannot always afford. By this I mean that people do not feel comfortable speaking out to their bosses about their mental health without the fear of being fired because they are “not suited” for that position. And as Marx teaches us, according to society we are worthless if we are unemployed. *eye roll*
As someone who suffers from anxiety, I know that I definitely cannot state this during an interview as a “fair warning”. The mere interview question, “how do work under stressful and fast paced environments?” raises my anxiety to high levels because although I want to be as honest as possible I am forced to answer something like, “Really well. I do not let the pressure get to me and I stay focused”. Even though my answer is a fair depiction of my work ethics, I feel like an imposter when I cannot answer something like, “I can do well if the environment is also taking care of me and not raising my anxiety. I may need to be checked up on once or twice to make sure that I am not overwhelmed, and I would appreciate it if my boss talked to me in a positive tone because that would lower my anxiety”.
Even thinking about answering that in an interview gives me the chills, because I can see my boss telling me that I am not adequate for a type of job that is fast paced, because taking any extra steps to accommodate my mental health is “ridiculous”.
As Marisol Pizano stated, we do not want to be cold and separated from our mental health by the corporate person, instead “We want to be empowered enough to end exploitation under its circumstances. We want to keep the corporate entity on check”.
The workers mental health should be taken as serious as anyone’s physical injury or physical health.