Over half of Australian workers (58 per cent) hide some aspects of themselves in their professional life and almost three quarters (70 per cent) do not feel comfortable expressing their vulnerabilities at work. These findings have come from research by LinkedIn, released to coincide with the launch of #BringYourWholeSelf, a new campaign developed by LinkedIn to encourage Australians to be more open about their values, aspirations and opinions in their professional life.
Matt Tindale, country manager for LinkedIn in Australia & New Zealand explained: “When we bring our whole self to work, we unlock a more positive work experience and are more productive. Although diversity and inclusion have steadily become a priority for most businesses, our research shows that two in five professionals believe their organisations could be doing more when it comes to encouraging them to be themselves at work.”
When asked why they hold back elements of themselves in the workplace, over half (57 per cent) of the professionals surveyed said they wanted to avoid conflict, while more than a third (35 per cent) said they were concerned about how others would react or perceive them.
The research also found that men and women differ in the aspects they hold back at work. Whilst men feel more uncomfortable expressing vulnerability (73 per cent), compared to women (67 per cent). Meanwhile, females (79 per cent) feel less comfortable than males (85 per cent), expressing their opinion in the workplace.
“Being able to embrace vulnerability in a professional context is important because it helps build trust and respect with your network. LinkedIn provides a platform for professionals to voice their opinion on topics that matter to them and engage in open conversations with the community” said Tindale.
Over a third (35 per cent) of respondents surveyed said they hold back expressing their mental health and wellness, with nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of respondents saying it is a career limiter. Meanwhile, one in five (21 per cent) Australians still hold back from expressing their sexual orientation in the workplace, with nearly half (45 per cent) of respondents also seeing it as a career limiter. Respondents also cited speaking your mind about issues (61 per cent); ethnicity (57 per cent); gender (53 per cent) and; religious beliefs (52 per cent) as possible career limiters in Australian workplace.
Fostering an open and accepting working environment not only has a positive impact on the workplace culture and morale of employees, but it also benefits the overall business, with nearly half (44 per cent) of respondents saying being themselves has a positive impact on productivity. Respondents also said being themselves at work has a positive impact on their job satisfaction (47 per cent), as well as their personal health and wellbeing (39 per cent).
“Workplaces are undergoing massive shifts in the way they work. With the influx of millennials joining the workforce, they are looking for organisations that align with their values and allows them to contribute while maintaining their identity. The onus is on business leaders to create a working environment where employees feel they belong and are encouraged to bring their whole self to work.” concluded Tindale.