You ever notice how when you mention worth, or rather self-worth specifically, there are those who’ll feel that such an acquired sentiment means you’re an uppity person? You ever notice how those feelings ride alongside issues of color and caste; mindsets reminiscent of earlier days when plantations were the big businesses of the time? Ironically, you’ll find that same combination of social ingredients-background, status and race-perturbing members of today’s workforce. It does the same to employees today what it did to slaves back then. It robs them of their self-worth.
Absence of employee self-worth hampers the overall success of a business and instills what is a harmfully challenging, stressful and bullying atmosphere on the job. Unlike the customary and easily recognizable workplace-bullying tactics of harassment, such subtle diminishment is no less harmful to the employee. It rewards nothing; it acknowledges nothing. It leaves the worker confused and unsure of their place within the organization.
The truly sad thing is that it just might be “par-for-the-course”. Maybe it’s because I’m older that I don’t see any change, or resolve to bring such change to the workplace in today’s society. On the contrary, rather than instilling camaraderie, I see jobs pitting employees against each other, effectively eliminating the strength and unity needed to foster any type of workplace solidarity. In such a way, the responsibility for discourse on the job is thrown squarely at the feet of the workers; effectively insulating management from their innate responsibilities.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this since reading an EHS Today article by Sandy Smith entitled, When Bosses are Bullies, Fight Back!. The article came on the heels of the very public suicide of embattled Fox News producer Philip Perea. He shot himself in front of the Fox News corporate headquarters in New York to protest a year’s worth of bullying he claims to have allegedly suffered on the job at the hands of his employer. At the time, I remember thinking that Perea did what most bullied employees do; he checked out, albeit in a big, and final, way.
“Employees felt better about themselves because they just didn’t sit back and take the abuse.”
Bennett Tepper, Professor of Management and Human Resources, Fisher College, OSU
But checking out or quitting, like violence of any sort, is never the answer in my opinion and now I have some corroboration towards that respect. For me, it’s always been about “returning the favor”; in other words, if somebody’s giving you sh*t, give a little something back. If nothing else, doing so affords you a sense of your own destiny.
More importantly, giving a little something back is not being insubordinate; nor is it being uncooperative or stymying. Giving a little something back is definitely not being lazy, unprofessional or dispassionate. Giving a little something back simply means knowing your own worth.
Recognizing your self-worth on the job, more than anything, is power. Self-worth acknowledges your right to be there; let’s not forget that your employers chose you to be where you currently are. It’s a strictly personal reward that pays you nothing monetarily but earns you ample riches in the serenity department.
And serenity is the operative word as a Zen-like repose is necessary to exist in such a harsh environment. Like the Buddha of old, todays employees have to stake their own claim to workplace enlightenment and at the same time, on the job peace. Without it, even the strongest of us out there wouldn’t give a second mind to checking out. There but for the grace of God, I’m just saying…