Authenticity on the Job

By: Daniel Steingold | May 11, 2016

A recent study published in the Harvard Business Review delved into the topic of displaying one’s self authentically on the job. Here are some key takeaways and findings:

  • Nearly everyone is conscious of the image they give off at the workplace.
  • Previous studies have found that the greater an employee’s feelings of authenticity, the greater their job self-reported satisfaction, engagement, and performance.
  • The new study was conducted by Plasticity Labs, using 213 employees.
  • 72% of the study’s subjects felt like they act authentically at work, usually showing their true selves within two to three months.
  • No dress code at work is correlated with both valuing authenticity and feeling more authentic.
  • Being authentic is correlated with a better work experience, higher productivity, more of a sense of community, and less stress.
  • 80% of employees believe that authenticity improves the workplace. This is because productivity and performance are increased, and employees are able to self-monitor on the job less.
  • A small percentage of employees (about 10%) felt that showing parts of themselves was detrimental as their “true selves” could demonstrate characteristics that’d clash with other coworkers.
  • When workers feel that differences are not appreciated, conformity is emphasized, and acknowledging stress or emotion is frowned upon, they are less likely to express themselves freely.
  • 75% of employees want their coworkers to share more about themselves

The ultimate thing to take away is that employers should look to promote authenticity in the workplace, while employees should seek positions where they are free to express themselves. An individual’s “fit” in the grander scheme of the company is something that should always be considered.

It’s also important to remember that people can be different on the job than they are in other situations, yet still authentic. Authenticity is by no means a rigid thing.

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