How to overcome a toxic workplace

If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life, says the old saying, but what if you love your job but your work environment is toxic?

All it takes is one person to turn a healthy office into a toxic one. In fact, 3%-15% of people exhibit toxic behaviors in the workplace, according to studies.

"A toxic employee has an extraordinary ability to do damage to a workplace well beyond their immediate realm," said Dr. Jay Finkelman of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in downtown Los Angeles.

He has these tell-tale signs you're working with a toxic co-worker:

"The toxic employee, himself or herself, is less likely to call in sick a lot, but colleagues are more likely to call in sick because of the stress level imposed by having to deal with this on an ongoing basis," said Finkelman.

A Stanford survey shows 61-percent of employees said workplace stress has made them sick. Seven percent said they have actually been hospitalized as a result.

Finkelman says it's up to the managers to pay attention and employees to know when enough is enough.

"Ultimately, smart employers recognize when it's time to go to a termination process," Finkelman said. "And for the outgroup member who feels apart and bullied, leaving is really the only solution."

Dr. Finkelman says there's a recent rise in the reporting of toxic work incidents and he says this is partly due to the "Me Too" movement.

If you are in this position, report it to your superior and/or provide documented episodes to your Human Resources Department. Dr. Finkelman ensures filing a complaint is a protected action.