“In an ideal world, of course, you wouldn’t be working in a job that clashed with your values, but leaving a job out of principle is a rare luxury that you can seldom afford. Instead, you have to find a way to bridge the gaps you find between the values and the culture you work in” (Vlachoutsicos, C 2013).
Living in a globalised world where we are exposed to an array of different cultures, customs, and traditions, it is inevitable that our values will come into conflict with those of others. Our values are moulded by our experiences, allowing us to gain a better understanding of not only others but ourselves. When our values are challenged, we are provoked to reassess what they truly mean to us and whether or not they are worth fighting for.
Utilising narrative practice we are able to understand the absent but implicit by analysing our past experiences. Uncovering the reasons why we either behave or react in a certain way, can allow us to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the values that we have adopted along the way.
The term ‘absent but implicit’ is best described by Michael White who reveals that it is the “ideas about how we make sense of things, about how we ‘read’ texts, depends on the distinctions we make between what is presented to us (privileged meaning) and what is ‘left out’ (subjugated meaning)” (Carey, Walther & Russell, 2009) . The ability to look beyond the information that is given to us at face value, allows us to understand what our actions are saying and how we can better understand what our values are.
So what happens when our values are tested in the workplace?
Holding true to your values can be difficult within the confines of the workplace, as there is the chance of both a professional and monetary loss being involved. Keeping this in mind, it can be difficult for an employee to express their dissatisfaction to their employer and can often lead to either individual’s harbouring resentment of the workplace or confronting the issue head-on.
Values are important not only within our personal lives but in the workplace as “values based decisions-making allows you to create a future that resonates deeply with who you really are. It creates the conditions that allow authenticity and integrity to flourish” (Barrett Academy for the Advancement of Human Values, 2019). The ability to balance our personal values with those of the business we work in can prove to be difficult, but can ultimately be the most successful in achieving work satisfaction.
When a values conflict arises within the workplace, the culture of the business is in jeopardy, often leading to disagreements between not only employees but the employer.
At the age of 15, I began working for a company that provided me with my first paying job. It was close to home, and the flexibility of the job allowed me to balance my high school studies as well as my personal life. I was the youngest employee in the team with a considerable age gap between my other colleagues. My first year at the company was great. I learned skills that I can bring to other roles and I got along well with everyone in the business.
After my first year, one of my supervisors began asking me to complete her jobs as well as my own. At first it was okay, I did a few things here and there and I didn’t mind helping out. However, each time I was rostered on to her shift the tasks would increase and I would end up having to stay later than everyone else to complete not only my own jobs but hers. I would dread going to work and began to decide how I would deal with the situation.
I felt taken advantage of because of my age and felt as though the supervisor was doing it because they wouldn’t think I would speak up. As I am someone who tends to be more outspoken, I spoke to another supervisor who I trusted about the situation where she told me that it had been an issue in the past with her. Together we went to my manager where it ended with the supervisor apologising to me and I was no longer rostered on to her shifts.
Reflecting on the situation I have realised that I am someone who values respect within the workplace and to be treated the same as my fellow employees. I have also recognised that I am more willing to speak out when I feel my personal values are conflicting with those of the business. However, I do wonder if my outspoken nature could one day lead to a professional or monetary loss.
A study conducted by Angila Ruskin University utilised narrative inquiry to “shed light on the importance of people’s personal values and their considerable roles in the ways they think, feel and act in the workplace” finding that “people’s personal values drive, inspire, and guide people in the workplace” (Mashlah, S 2015).
Understanding the role that our values play in the future of work, I have realised the importance of assessing whether or not our personal values and those of the business align. Uncovering what our core principles are, will not only allow us to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves but will also lead to better job satisfaction. Through engaging with narrative practice we can observe this behaviour and implement it within our lives.
- Barrett Academy for the Advancement of Human Values. (2019).The six modes of decision making. [online] Available at: https://www.aahv.global/the-six-modes-of-decision-making.html [Accessed 5 Sep. 2019].
- Carey, M., Walther, S. and Russell, S. (2009). The Absent but Implicit: A Map to Support Therapeutic Enquiry. Family Process, 48(3), pp.319-331
- Harvard Business Review. (2019).When Your Values Clash With Your Company’s. [online] Available at: https://hbr.org/2013/01/when-your-values-clash-with-yo [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019].
- Mashlah, S. (2015).The Role of People’s Personal Values in the Workplace. [online] Research Gate. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305568080_THE_ROLE_OF_PEOPLE’S_PERSONAL_VALUES_IN_THE_WORKPLACE [Accessed 5 Sep. 2019].