RECENTLY, my husband began displaying signs of increased frustration and occasional outbursts, which was quite uncharacteristic of him. When I talked to him about it, he admitted that work-related stress was taking a toll on him.

Initially, I brushed it off, believing what most people believe that men do not face any serious mental struggle. I had witnessed many men enduring long work hours, arriving at dawn and returning late at night to the point where they barely have the time or the energy for self-care. Somehow, I had normalised what actually was a challenging reality.

Living in the corporate world, we remain constantly immersed in a competitive environment. As such, unjust evaluations, glorified overtime and additional responsibilities with insufficient compensation characterise this imaginary rat race that consumes our heart and soul. The current economic fluctuations only add to life difficulties, making it even more challenging to handle office politics and toxic work environments.

While there are good and bad individuals at any and every workplace, toxicity escalates when negative forces gather strength. Condescending senior employees paired with corrupt bosses create a toxic combination. These narcissistic individuals exploit their employees’ vulnerabilities to torment them. If someone reacts emotionally, their career may come to a standstill, with promotions and salary increments diverted due to conflicts with seniors.

Companies are ultimately shaped by their employees, and I believe that they, the employees, can handle increased pressure and workloads if the work atmosphere is supportive of everyone. It is not about bringing in any radical change, but rather acknowledging that a shift in the behaviour of one person in authority can inspire others to follow suit. This change should not only benefit men, but also address the challenges that are faced by working women in the corporate world.

Maryam Zehra Rizvi
Karachi

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2024

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