You've made it through an exhausting interview process, put your reputation on the line getting your references involved and left workmates and a job you felt comfortable with, to take up an exciting position in a new workplace.

Before you start, you hear rumours of a toxic work culture, which is confirmed during the first week when you're asked to help change a toxic workplace culture.

Your colleagues whisper warnings to you about each other and your desk neighbour brags about all the people she's "moved on" in a bitter restructuring. Another gets giddy when discussing the others' misfortunes.

Still, you think it will all work out fine.

Until, after a few weeks, the toxic workplace turns on you - the newest and most vulnerable in the office.

Instead of blaming an obviously toxic workplace, you blame yourself.

"My heart goes out to anyone in this situation, because it can have impacts personally and professionally," says Erica Steele, a career and personal counsellor.

"If you've never experienced this before, or don't know how to handle it, you might find yourself plunged into a state of shock or feeling overwhelmed on how to respond."

She says she has seen professional and competent people lose their confidence rapidly in these situations.

"They may have gone from hero to zero by changing jobs and not fitting in, it's just such a really awful place for that person to be," says Steele.

"They can feel like they are not assertive and also lonely if their partner is angry or their friends and family haven't experienced something like this."

If you know someone who is experiencing overwhelming challenges in their new job listen, show empathy, validate them and give feedback on their strengths.

Sometimes recovery can take time, so be there for them - especially if they are suffering stress, fatigue, a lack of confidence and identity issues, which could send them into a depressive cycle.

"Prevention is far better than the cure," says Steele.

"Generally, candidates don't do enough due diligence before they accept a role from a new employer."

She recommends a career coach to help people learn how to research and know what they want from a role or employer, as well as for advice on what's realistic to ask for, while building confidence in negotiating skills.

"It's worth investing in yourself before you go out to market for a new job.

Once you've learned these skills, you can use them over and over during your career changes."

So, why do things go wrong?

Steele says sometimes the job is not well-defined or without clear or realistic expectations.

It could also be blamed on an inadequate induction process, or lack of access to coaching, training or support in those initial months.

"More worryingly, health and safety factors, such as bullying, are at play," says Steele.

"Another factor is team dynamics - is there good communication and problem resolution processes within the team?"

She says a team bullying culture can emerge, such as gossip, whispers and cliques forming.

But, toxic cultures can also be down to manager burnout due to increased pressure, or even working in silos or remotely, making communication challenging.

A unified vision within the team is needed for a good culture, but team dynamics can change in an instant and become disjointed when factors such as restructuring, or changes in management, responsibilities or location are added to the mix.

"When new people don't get along with their managers or colleagues, think about what dynamics are playing out," says Steele, "because these can be very complex.

The bottom line is to get clear on what the dynamics are and what you can do in the short term and longer term."

However, it can be hard to find help because each situation is unique.

Expert assistance is not a one-size-fits-all solution and sometimes there needs to be a combination of professionals.

For example, Steele sometimes works with GPs, legal professionals or unions in order to help.

She says getting people access to resources to help them cope is essential and recommends the WorkSafe Bullying Prevention Toolbox, accessed for free at: worksafe.govt.nz/topic-and-industry/bullying-prevention-toolbox/

It's also a good idea to look into what employee assistance programmes are available to help get you through a difficult start, getting in writing that the discussions will be confidential.

"Acknowledge that this may be your rainy day, so ask for help and support - even though it's the last thing you may feel like doing," says Steele.

It's also a time to be gentle with yourself - spend time in nature, get good sleep and do restorative practices like yoga, as well as setting routines for structure in your day if you've left under a cloud.

"Restore balance with rest and support, as well as validation from those you trust and who know you well," says Steele.

"See your career relaunch as a small-step process, particularly if you're stressed and fatigued."

Contracting may be a good way to see how a workplace suits you and, remember, these situations are more common than you might realise, so don't feel ashamed to say it didn't work out.