Is Your Workplace Persona Causing You to Hate Your Job? Tips You Need

6 minute read

Do you begin to dread work when it’s still Sunday? If so, that’s a pretty good indicator that you’re unhappy at your job. While this may make you feel alone and like an outsider, there are plenty of people in your situation.

According to The Conference Board’s job satisfaction survey, job satisfaction is on the rise, but it’s still right around the 50% mark. That means just about half the people you work with report that they’re not satisfied with their jobs, feeling similar levels of unhappiness as you do.

If so many people are feeling unhappy, is there a way to improve satisfaction and boost happiness? It turns out that there might be a secret to workplace happiness.

The Damaging Workplace Persona

For many people their unhappiness comes from feeling repressed at work, like there is a stigma attached to who they are or how they feel that will be interpreted negatively. This feeling prompts them to create a workplace persona that fits what they see as their company mold.

A review of 65 studies was done in “Stigma Expression Outcomes and Boundary Conditions: A Meta-Analysis,” which shows that people who are more open and comfortable about expressing themselves and who they are, despite perceived stigmas, are happier, healthier, more productive, and less stressed in their jobs than their counterparts who adopt a workplace persona.

The authors dive deeper and explain the complicated nature of stigma expression. They point out how deciding to create an identity in the workplace, and sometimes outside of work also, has the potential for positive and negative outcomes.

What Happens When Workplace Personas Are Abandoned

The research went further and looked at less-visible stigma characteristics versus ones that are more apparent. The less-visible stigma included things like mental health issues and sexual orientation while the more-visible stigma applied to things like race, gender, and physical disabilities.

It was found that when an individual shares their less visible stigma with their colleagues, they experienced beneficial outcomes. Their results were an increase in productivity, job satisfaction, a stronger commitment to their jobs, and decreased levels of anxiety at and about work.

Conversely, sharing information about having a more visible stigma with co-workers did not prompt the same feelings of relief and job satisfaction. It’s believed that because the stigma is already well-known, the individual finds it less central to their psychological experience. And people tend to react negatively when people call attention to an obvious stigma, making it appear as a form of advocacy or heightened pride.

Since individuals with visible stigmas do not create workplace personas that hide these parts of their personality, there is no issue with removing that mask. But, for those who do expose who they are and put their workplace persona aside, the benefits can be the determining factor that turns job dissatisfaction into job satisfaction.

How to Boost Workplace Happiness

If you want to be happier in your current job, there are ways you can boost your job satisfaction. Stay in your job and be happier with these tips.

Be genuine: While you don’t need to let your co-workers in on all of your secrets, it can be a great benefit to your happiness and health to be forthright about who you are. There is a fine line between not sharing everything and pretending to be someone you’re not. Figuring out how to manage this in a way that’s comfortable for you can make you happier at your job.

Encourage community: A workplace can never be a true community, but by acting as one, it can release the potential to provide personal satisfaction.

To do this it’s key that the workplace accept coworkers and show respect and concern for their traditions and achievements while acknowledging the family’s importance. This works very well with the idea of being a genuine person, as it allows the employee to feel comfortable by working hard to remove stigma and celebrate individuals.

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Even if your employer doesn’t actively support a work community, you can bring about this change by showing your colleagues respect and acceptance.

Rediscover your passion: For some, acknowledging their true self doesn’t just mean being honest with others, it’s about being honest with yourself. If you’ve totally lost track of your work passion, it’s time to reignite that fire.

Look back at what made you go into this field in the first place and what really made you smile. Then be forthright about what has changed. If it’s you that’s changed, you need to figure out why. Taking a look back to when you were happiest and comparing the situation to the present can help you find happiness and passion in your workplace again.

The Bottom Line

Roughly half of all people report feeling dissatisfied at their jobs. While that means that half of them are satisfied, it’s still not a very optimistic percentage. If you’re one of the people who is feeling dissatisfied, it might be because you are living behind a work persona.

Creating an alternate “you” who goes to work and hides part of yourself because you’re afraid of the stigma can lead to dissatisfaction at work and less work productivity. If you have a non-visible characteristic that you feel has a stigma attached, letting go of your fears and embracing your true self can help you feel better at work and more satisfied overall.

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