Leave it at the door!

Leave it at the door!

I attended a seminar this week, the topic of which is not relevant to this blog but a phrase used by the speaker got me thinking.  

There was a discussion about how best to advise an employer in a specific situation when an employee brings themselves and all of their potential issues and foibles to work. Apparently, there is a HR ‘buzzword’ around employees being encouraged to ‘bring their whole self to work’. As you can imagine, this can be taken literally and can lead to issues within the workplace and between colleagues, which could easily be avoided.  

The nature of the workplace has changed a great deal over recent years and people often seem to see it as an extension of their life and home environment. This is especially so where people have been working at home for so long and have become used to the boundaries between home and work being blurred. Dress codes have changed, people are often a lot more relaxed about how they present themselves and they are less afraid to be honest about work/life balance, doing the school run or going for a run at lunchtime. This shift is extremely positive in a lot of ways and flexibility is something to be praised and heralded. 

That being said, there has to be a balance and boundaries as to what is and is not acceptable in the workplace. Encouraging people to bring their ‘whole self to work’ can potentially open a can of worms in respect of opinions, habits and hobbies that could cause tension and discourse. I do not think there is any issue in employees being supported to be themselves and to embrace their unique personality traits but not at the detriment of workplace relations or where others may be offended.  

The key is always balance and the implementation of positive and ‘human’ messaging that is not confused with oversharing or inappropriate behaviour in the workplace. Be yourself, be honest, just leave some of the more personal elements at the door.

This blog was written by Elizabeth McGlone, Partner at didlaw