According to a recent survey by CV-Library, more than two-thirds of UK workers believe that their careers are having a harmful effect on their self-esteem. The most commonly cited reasons for this were a feeling of not being skilled enough at their job, and shame stemming from silly mistakes at work.
This suggests systemic issues with the company cultures of UK businesses rather than simple work stress. After all, businesses themselves are ultimately responsible for training their workers, and making mistakes is a necessary part of learning for any worker attempting to acquire those skills. Allowing employees to feel personally diminished for these issues results in weak company cultures and businesses that operate far below their real potential.
Poor morale is lethal for business
Considering the wide range of problems that business owners need to deal with on a daily basis, it’s not overly surprising that many don’t pay much particular attention to the feelings of their employees. This is a big mistake, as the way that those feelings are considered is ultimately the core of what shapes a company’s culture. It’s common for people to see their careers as an integral part of their identity, particularly in highly skilled fields. This is natural, but it also makes workers both protective and potentially insecure about any perceived attacks on that identity. A toxic company culture can have devastating effects.
Lack of cooperation
Employees who feel that they may be lacking the skills they need, or that they’re on thin ice because of a mistake they made, are likely to behave defensively. That means withdrawing, and being careful not to display weakness to coworkers and supervisors. These kinds of workers will avoid responsibility to protect themselves, and will be afraid to get help from managers or more experienced team members when they don’t understand something. Effectively, it prevents individual workers from working together as a team and lowers the quality of their work, while also preventing them from growing.
Morale problems at work can have significant impacts on every aspect of an employee’s life and their overall health. Stressed workers don’t just have a higher risk of developing mental health issues, they also have weaker immune systems. As a result, morale problems can significantly increase the rate of absenteeism in a business’ workforce.
High employee and client turnover
Employees who are consistently exposed to this kind of environment will quickly become demotivated and resentful. This attitude helps to perpetuate the business’ toxic environment, ultimately resulting in increased employee turnover. Together with the preexisting lack of real teamwork, high employee turnover makes it very difficult to consistently meet client needs, and ultimately also means losing clients, and being forced to quickly attract new ones just to survive.
Building self esteem at work
Improving employee morale starts with good leadership. There are a lot of ways the good leaders build healthy company cultures, but these specific issues are centered around insecurities pertaining to professional growth. To address it, business owners need to invest real effort into creating an environment that encourages personal and professional development in a positive manner.
Implement skills development programs
Few people start a new position with all the requisite skills to perform perfectly. When taking on a new employee, or giving an existing employee new responsibilities, it’s a good idea to identify and set goals for how that individual should aim to grow into their position. That might involve mentoring, training projects, or even formal training courses. Not only will this actively provide employees with the skills they need to benefit your business and themselves, it shows explicitly that lacking a skill isn’t something to hide so much as something to fix.
Create a culture of learning
Formalised study is a good way to build a broad foundation, but good employees never stop learning. Don’t punish or judge workers for honest mistakes, but rather encourage them to analyse their own work and to actively seek feedback and advice from coworkers and management. Not only does this give workers ready access to the knowledge and experience of their team members to do better work in the moment, it also makes it far easier for them and management to find and deal with any skill gaps.
Ultimately, this is about turning your business into a workplace that encourages regular workers to become great, and giving them the space and tools to do so. Not only does this directly address these most common insecurities that UK employees are suffering from, it ultimately gives businesses a better, more competent workforce.