I’m a big believer in personal authenticity on the job. For instance, in my very first meeting at Apartment Therapy, I was asked to tell the team an interesting fact about myself. Did I highlight a professional triumph? Share an anodyne tidbit about my family? Please.
Instead, I talked about a time in sixth grade when I gathered a fluffy bouquet of poison ivy and purposefully rubbed the leaves all over my face and arms. How’s that for a fact, everyone? I just ... I feel I do my best work when I’m working as the real me—the me who once required an elephant's dose of prescription steroids because she wanted laughs at recess.
A new survey suggests I’m not alone in wanting my "home" self to shine through in professional settings. Plasticity Labs, a research and consulting firm specializing in workplace happiness, teamed with Wilfrid Laurier University and grilled 213 workers on how much they reveal of themselves at work, how much time they took to do so and how self-presentation affects their working life.
Overall, 72 percent of respondents said they feel authentic at work. Of this group, 60 percent felt authentic within three months of starting their jobs, while 22 percent needed nine months to get real. For 9 percent of respondents, authenticity came after 10 to 12 months. The process was more gradual for those remaining.
Better late than never, it seems: Self-described authentic employees reported significantly higher job satisfaction, greater happiness at work, a stronger sense of community, more inspiration and lower job stress.
So why doesn’t everyone let it all hang out? Many respondents blamed conformist corporate culture for suppressing their true selves. And it’s worth remembering that anti-discrimination worker protections vary from state to state, another potential barrier to authenticity.
If you work with others, how well do they know the real you?