The Where of Well-being; Organizations (Part 2)

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

This is the second part of my series on the “Where of Well-being.” You can read the first part on Community here.

How would you describe the type of relationship you have with your employer?

There were many jobs where I felt like I was in a toxic relationship with my employer. On the opposite side there have been jobs where I was able to flourish through leveraging my strengths. No matter what your relationship is with your employer the reality is we spend ⅓ of our lives at work. Organizations are locations of well-being.

In the first piece of “The Where of Well-being; Community” we began exploring how various sites or locations impact our subjective well-being. We did an exercise thinking about our routine and how we engage in different aspects of daily activities in our community prior to the pandemic.

In this piece we are examining organizations, specifically work being one type of organization. According to the Pew Research Center more than 157 Americans are part of the workforce. Considering we spend most of our waking day at work thinking about work as a location of well-being can be a salient example for many of us.

Currently there are about 33% of Americans working from home due to COVID-19. When we think of work as an organization or a location of well-being we can associate that site as a physical space we go to or as a larger institution that has a unique culture and community we are a part of. Ultimately, our experience at work is not about a physical location but it is about the interpersonal relationships we have with our coworkers, how the people in that organization make us feel, and the ways our collective norms and behaviors contribute to creating a culture that can support or impede upon our well-being.

I had one job where I was working from home when remote work was relatively new and co-working spaces had just begun popping up to accommodate this new reality. Throughout this piece I will refer to that workplace as Crush Your Spirit Corporation. I had left my most recent job at Fun Time Inc. to work at Crush Your Spirit Corp. Now, with any new job when I took the role at Crush Your Spirit Corp. I didn’t know it was going to actually crush my spirit. Like most people who begin a new job I was excited to start as a world of possibility lay ahead. I loved the company’s mission and the work they were doing aligned with my personal values.

However, I quickly realized that there was a difference between work values and cultural values. I was so enthralled with the work the company was doing that I hadn’t stopped to consider if who I am would fit into the culture and therefore enable me to do my best work before I said yes to the job.

It didn’t take me long to see the differences in company culture. I went from an office where it wasn’t unusual to find a giant rubber ducky in the hallway as we would all congregate around it and someone would pretend to ride it like a horse (mostly I was that person riding it around) to a company when I would be in the office once a month the request was to Google Chat someone from your desk in the office before showing up at their door to talk to them.

Although I was not physically in the office each day the culture of the workplace was negatively impacting my well-being.

I would find myself on Sundays, like clockwork, experiencing a fog of dread and impending doom about the week ahead. It was like a brick had settled in my heart, weighing me down.

  • How do you feel about going to work? Does it bring up anxiety frequently? Do you feel energized and engaged about the week that lies ahead? Or, do you feel apathetic?
  • Do the “Sunday Scaries’’ arrive invading you with a sense of dread for the week ahead and remorse for what you didn’t accomplish in your personal life that weekend?

Fortunately I don’t currently have that experience now. Sure, there are plenty of Sundays where I wish I could continue my marathon binging of “The Crown’’ the next day but who doesn’t enjoy a three day weekend?

  • When you are at work do you feel respected for who you are?
  • Are you able to show up and be who you are or do you feel that you have to wear a mask that hides your true identity?
  • Do you wish there was a “Bring yourself to work day?” (credit to Executive Coach, Brian Branagan)
  • Are you able to contribute to the mission of the organization and offer your ideas?
  • Are those ideas and contributions valued and seen by others?
  • Do you feel dignity in your workplace from your colleagues and leadership? Or do you feel like you are disrespected by others and not appreciated?
  • Are you able to use your strengths in your daily work and be recognized for how you use your strengths to accomplish tasks and reach goals?

When I worked at Crush Your Spirit Corp. I remember feeling like all the ideas I had to contribute were worthless. When I left there I specifically remember telling someone I had no strengths and I had no idea how I was going to be of value to any workplace moving forward.

I had to remind myself that this was not always the case. When I was at Fun Time Inc. I had created new programs and opportunities that still exist today.

What was the biggest difference between these two organizations? Their values and mine.

Fun Time Inc. had a culture where my strengths of curiosity, playfulness, and creativity were valued and celebrated. My strengths were an asset.

I once heard author and researcher Tom Rath say, “We are always trying to use our strengths but sometimes they are incompatible.”

A year after I left Crush Your Spirit Corp. I had the realization that my strengths and values and the cultural values of Crush Your Spirit Corp. were incompatible. Years later I have some perspective of that situation however, that experience had a lasting impact on how I see myself and what I have to offer. Most importantly, it taught me though that we can both be receivers and facilitators of well-being in organizations.

Share in the comments:

Have you ever worked at an organization where you felt that your strengths and the cultural values were incompatible? How did it impact your well-being?

Have you ever supported a coworker or employee who felt that they were not recognized or appreciated for their contributions? What were the implications on their well-being?

How might your organization recognize the unique strengths of each employee?



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