Have you ever woken up on time, gotten dressed on time, stopped to get your morning coffee on time, and then pulled into work on time, but couldn’t find the motivation to get out of the car? Did a heavy desire to go back home wash over you along with overwhelming feelings of frustration and unhappiness? Unless you have always worked for organizations with great cultures, and have always felt valued, you have likely experienced this at least once.

In prior years, the idea of finding the right cultural fit in a workplace that matches your career goals and motivational standards was never a consideration, or topic of conversation. I don’t know about you, but I was always told to work hard, make enough money, and never take your foot off the pedal because there is always someone there to take your spot. No one ever told me that you will spend more time at work than with your family and friends, so you should keep in mind how you are treated because that would play a major part in your happiness. Recently, however, that has changed.

The idea of a perfect cultural fit depends on individual standards. Charlotte, who is an extrovert, would thrive where she can express herself and give and receive praise, yet John, who is an introvert, would thrive in a calmer environment without micromanaging. The right culture for you all depends on your standards; and yes, this will take some trial and error, but it is never too late to start uncovering the organizational culture that works best for you.

When we speak about culture and the positive and negative effects it may have on employees, we also have to consider the effect of culture on employers. In 2019, Oxford University published a study that indicated happy workers showed 13% more productivity, and that the effect of a positive workplace culture can influence how employees think and process information. A positive workplace culture is a win-win for both the employer and employee, and it is vital for both parties to contribute to creating a workplace where everyone wants to be; this is not just up to the employer, but employees can also be an agent for change and start to create and advocate for the culture they desire. If you are unhappy in your workplace, but have never brought this up to your employer, you are inadvertently contributing to the negative culture. By that same token, if you as an employer have never considered whether you are providing a positive culture, you are doing yourself a disservice.

You may be questioning yourself now, thinking, “I don’t contribute to the negative culture, do I?” Take the time to think about your own productivity and attitude as you sit in your car, trying to build up the motivation to go into your place of work. Are you coming off as the warm, friendly, and, most importantly, motivated employee you may have once been? Maybe, but maybe not. With that in mind, you should now ask yourself that vital question: to stay, or not to stay?

There are factors that need to be considered before answering that question:

· Can the culture in my workplace be changed?

· Does my employer value me, and their other employees?

· Will I be able to re-engage if the culture did change?

· Have the effects of the culture negatively impacted my personal life?

· Will the grass be greener on the other side?

Ultimately, this is a decision that only you can make. If the atmosphere of your workplace is affecting your overall happiness, you should consider the long-term effect it may have on your life and what that means for you in the future. If you can be an effective agent for change and advocate for the overall culture in your workplace, you may be in the right place at the right time to contribute to your organization in an incredibly valuable way. If you are considering leaving, ask yourself how you will ensure that you land at an organization that will be the right culture fit for you. Will it be easy to make this decision? No, but it is necessary. Your happiness is important! Take time out of your hectic day and consider all these factors and how it may change your life, and then answer the question: to stay or not to stay? And remember – culture is everything!

– NaTasha Patterson, Associate Director

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