Recent Survey Shows Workers Don't Feel Comfortable Being Themselves in the Office
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Recent Survey Shows Workers Don't Feel Comfortable Being Themselves in the Office

Recent Survey Shows Workers Don't Feel Comfortable Being Themselves in the Office

The modern workplace has dramatically changed over the past several years with the rise of hybrid and remote work. In some cases, it has led to a more relaxed culture with laid-back water cooler discussions and less formal office attire.

Despite these changes to the office environment, a recent Express Employment Professionals-Harris Poll survey showed 41% of U.S. job seekers still don’t feel comfortable being themselves in the workplace and 79% believe employees are discouraged from discussing certain topics.

Results of the survey showed the top three discussions to avoid at work were the traditional hot button topics of salary/wages (51%), politics (50%), and religion (47%). Additionally, Gen Z believes talking about politics (64%) is less desirable than discussing salary or wages.

While job seekers may feel there are subjects they shouldn't talk about at work, that doesn't mean that they are uncomfortable doing so. Four out of five job seekers (80%) are fine with discussing something about their family, with an even higher response from Gen X (85%). More than half of the job seekers are also comfortable talking about physical health (69%), DEI (67%), and mental health (53%) in the workplace.

Survey respondents were more split on the issue of workplace etiquette. More than half of job seekers felt confusion around what are acceptable rules of etiquette given the changes in the workplace over the past several years. Perhaps for that reason, 86% of job seekers said they would keep their home life separate from their work life.

“Several company environments now lean toward a more laid-back atmosphere in the post-pandemic era; however, some sensitive conversations are not appropriate for the workplace,” said Bill Stoller, Express Employment International CEO. “While people should be comfortable being themselves at work, employees should respect the beliefs of their colleagues, creating a safe space for everyone. A healthy company culture is an inclusive and supportive one, no matter the personal differences.”

Encouraging authenticity

According to the survey, approximately three-quarters of hiring managers (76%) say their company places a moderate to great deal of priority on encouraging employees to be authentic at work. Nearly the same amount (77%) say their company also promotes positive employee health.

However, only around two in five say their company places a great deal of priority on authenticity (39%) and promoting positive health. This indicates there is perhaps room for improvement in both areas. The inability to discuss certain topics openly in the workplace could prevent some employees from feeling welcome to share and add their unique feelings at the company.

Seven out of 10 hiring managers (70%) say there are several topics employees are discouraged from discussing in the workplace. Those include politics (38%), salary/wages (38%), religion (35%), and physical and mental health (24%). Discussing DEI topics (12%) and family matters (12%) are also discouraged at some companies.

Published: July 8th, 2024

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