It’s often difficult for employees to express authenticity in the workplace. The demands of the job, the pressures of being successful, and the expectations of others can make employees feel like they have to conform to a specific work persona.

While this may help them get ahead in the short term, employees who have to suppress their natural talents often endure dissatisfaction and disillusionment. In the latest episode of Team Building Saves the World, Rich spoke with International Leadership Consultant and Trainer Tania Desa about how to bring your true, authentic self to work and be an advocate for your own awesomeness.

As Tania mentions, “It is draining to try to be someone else to hide who you really are and pretend to be someone else. And in today’s workplace, today’s world, we don’t want to be like everybody else. We actually have to lean into what makes us different…What do you do so uniquely, so differently, so incredibility, that it actually sets you apart from the person sitting beside you?” 

In this article we will help you understand why encouraging employees to nurture authenticity in the workplace is important and how your company and the team can benefit.

What Is Authenticity in the Workplace?

Authenticity in the workplace means encouraging employees to be true to themselves. They are also empowered to view mistakes as learning opportunities. 

In company cultures built on authenticity, employees take responsibility for their actions and don’t blame others for their mistakes or disappointments in life.

Authenticity in the workplace is also about making your employees feel comfortable on an emotional level. Employers who put people first and embrace their unique identities can build a more resilient team capable of facing obstacles.

Authentic workplaces also help employees form stronger bonds and develop empathy and compassion toward their teammates. Employees who are authentic at work are often easier to trust because they act in ways consistent with who they are as a person.

Why Authenticity at Work Matters

According to a survey conducted by the Institute for Inclusive Leadership, over 90% of participants say that authenticity in the workplace matters. The majority (71%) also said that they are able to be authentic at work. 

Practicing and encouraging authenticity benefits both the organization and the individual. 

Employees who are true to themselves are happier and more successful at work. They are empowered to leverage their strengths, stay motivated and avoid burnout. As Tania says, “when you recognize what makes you different, own your own strengths, then people will know when to tap into you.”

Authenticity at work also helps build trust — with customers, colleagues, managers, and investors — as well as relationships that are more meaningful and rewarding.

However, that same study also found that 7% of respondents said that they are not able to be authentic at work. As a result, they are less productive at work and less loyal to the organization. 

These findings confirm the importance of building and maintaining authentic company culture. When employees are allowed to express their personalities in their unique ways, this can lead to positive results and greater benefits for the organization. 

5 Tips for Building a Culture of Authenticity

The benefits of authenticity are clear, but it can be difficult to know how to incorporate it into the everyday experience of your team.

Here’s a list of our five tips on what you should look out for and where to start your journey to authenticity at work.

1. Start from the Top

If you’re trying to encourage authenticity in your office, you need to start with the leadership team. The leadership team sets the tone for the culture. They are responsible for making people feel safe, valued, and respected.

Leaders and managers should promote empathy and build trust within their teams. When leadership shows vulnerability, it gives all employees permission to do the same. Tania says, “As managers, we come in with power and privilege just by our title, but how are you using your power and privilege. To help somebody who maybe feels like they’re on mute or they’re invisiblehow do you give them that nudge in the ribs to go for it?”

Organizing interactive team building activities is an effective way to help your managers and leaders fine-tune their leadership skills. 

TeamBonding’s Game of Drones puts your teammates in the pilot’s seat and tests their patience, organization, and communication skills. To win the game, your team has to work together and think strategically to successfully maneuver a drone through complex obstacles. 

2. Commit to Strong Internal Messaging

It’s up to you as a leader to make sure employees understand your company values. You need to do more than write them in a document. 

The most successful businesses embed their values in their everyday interactions, demonstrating that authenticity matters. You should also talk about your values during employee orientation or onboarding and communicate them frequently.

The best way to get employees to care about your company’s values is to show them how they’re relevant to their work. Explain why they matter and how they’ll help them do a better job. 

When employees understand the importance of these values, they’ll be more likely to embrace them and represent an authentic face of your company.

3. Build a Humanized Workplace Culture

A humanized company culture puts the team front and center.

When you’re building a startup from scratch, you have the freedom to set up your company culture any way you like. Even if you’re running a more established organization, you can always find ways to improve.

How do you build a humanized company culture? 

  • Have a deep understanding of what your business stands for
  • Create a community that fosters collaboration
  • Allow space for growth and self-improvement

A humanized company culture encourages authenticity in the workplace because it means that employees feel free to bring their whole selves to work. 

Team building is a great way to help your employees  break out of their shell and show their true colors. Through team building, employees can learn to trust one another, become more open-minded, and find strengths and weaknesses. TeamBonding has an entire catalog of unique and innovative events that can be tailored specifically to your team’s needs.

4. Prioritize Communication

One of the best ways to develop authenticity in the workplace is to start with a “talk first” approach — one in which communication is prioritized over other aspects of the business. 

This means encouraging open communication, equipping your employees with the right tools, and creating processes that support having honest conversations.

5. Encourage Relationship Building

Allowing space and time in the workplace for organic relationship building is essential in showing your team that the things they care about matter. By taking the time to learn about your employees and figure out what makes them tick, you can create space in the workplace to let them shine and that encourages authenticity at work.

The easiest way to encourage employees to interact with one another and build relationships is through team building. TeamBonding offers a wide range of activities that focus on different stages of relationship building in both virtual and in-person settings. 

Browse through our Relationship Building & Networking category of events to find the one that best fits the needs of your team.

High-Energy Accelerated Networking Game

Customized Approach to Authenticity at Work

Employees often find it difficult to express their authenticity and uniqueness in the workplace. Ignoring this issue may force your employees to start searching for other opportunities where their uniqueness will be valued. 

Incorporating interactive and engaging team building events is a fast and effective way to begin the process of building a more authentic company culture. We understand that each team is different and that there are no cookie-cutter solutions. For more ideas on how to advocate for yourself and your team, and how to approach authenticity at work listen to our latest episode of Team Building Saves the World.

In addition to our standard portfolio of events, we offer customized events and activities that can be tailored to fit into your authentic brand or company culture. Talk to us today to learn more!

Anna Webber

Team Contributor

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