Why workers are reluctant to express themselves at work

Should you be yourself at work? New research reveals workers are wary to express themselves, with the majority believing it’s only acceptable if you’re in a senior position!

While a staggering 90.2 per cent of Brits think that people should be able to express themselves at work, many are wary about how this could impact their career. In fact, 64.8 per cent of workers think that it’s more acceptable for senior members of staff to be their authentic self at work. That’s according to new research from CV-Library.

The study, which explores the views of 1,100 UK workers, finds the most common instance of ‘being yourself’ was openly discussing your shortcomings (26.4 per cent), followed by being open about what is happening in your private life (23.9 per cent). A further 21.4 per cent said that they believed it was behaving as you would with your friends. Other key findings from the survey include:

Four in ten (40.5 per cent) believe that the culture of the company enables employees to feel more at ease and express themselves in the workplace, with one third (30.6 per cent) stating that it is dependent on what their colleagues are like. A further 22.6 per cent say they would be more open if their manager was as well.

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library comments, ‘No one should ever feel the need to censor themselves, but it is important that people adopt a professional manner while at work. In most cases, this stems from the top, so it’s important that you are clear about your company values during the recruitment process, to ensure that you are employing like-minded people. This will inevitably make it easier for your employees to be themselves in the workplace.’

What’s more, UK professionals admit to adapting their personality in the workplace, most commonly when they are with customers (44.3 per cent), when managing junior members of staff (13 per cent) and when they’re dealing with senior managers (10.5 per cent). Furthermore, one in ten (9.3 per cent) say they adapt their personality when they are in a meeting.

When asked what negative occurrences they believe could come as a result of showing their authentic self at work, 28 per cent said it may make others feel uncomfortable. In addition, they felt it could cost them their credibility (26.5 per cent) and damage their chance of a promotion (16.6 per cent). However, when asked about the positives, 33.9 per cent said it could prompt others to be themselves, while a further 33.5 per cent said it could improve relationships within the workplace.

Biggins continues, ‘At the end of the day, we come to work, to work. But, because we spend so much time in the workplace, we need to ensure that we enjoy what we do, where we work and who we work with. It’s clear that letting your guard down can help you connect with people, though it’s important to ensure that you encourage your staff to remain professional. With Christmas fast approaching, many workers will be enjoying a festive tipple or two with their colleagues, so gently remind staff what their actions could mean when they return to work!’

Further reading on how to express yourself

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

Related Topics

Workplace Culture

Leave a comment