Healthy Workplace? HOW???

Caveat:  If you're reading this - remember... this is just random thoughts I wanted to get out in visible print... you have no obligation to read this - it's going to just be me typing, just writing... no comics or pictures (unless of course... I feel like it.) - and no, this has nothing to do with VO.  Again - as usually... most of these entries have NOTHING to do with VO.

"Find people you like to work with" - "Work Healthy"

I know we've all heard this - I've heard it countless times both inside and outside the office, in and out of meetings, with colleagues and with friends.


To think that most of us *want* to work in misery or in jobs we don't like is ridiculous.  At the basis of everything we do tend to really want to do things that make us feel happy... or satisfied at least.


The general consensus is that one's happiness or satisfaction in a workplace is highly dependent on who they work for, and the "company culture" that is encouraged in the workforce.  Happiness in the workplace - even though it sounds glib - is actually very important in the success of a company.  This is why there are so many articles on it and why this "Workplace Culture" is becoming a thing, a heavily discussed topic.

No, employers - this is not an appropriate way to 'deal with employees'
No, employers - this is not an appropriate way to 'deal with employees'

Best Workplace sites - company reviews

So you 're probably thinking it's totally easy to weed out the crappy workplaces from the good ones, right?  I mean... that's what all those "best company to work for" sites are all about - and you know... online reviews and stuff.


Okay - keep that happy thought... just... keep it and I sincerely hope that it works out for you - I really do - because for most of us, it's like the witch's house made of job-ready candy.


Think about it - since when have any job search or interview advice sites *EVER* suggested you ever be honest about your experience in a previous work place?


Go ahead and google things like "Interview tips" or "reviewing your workplace" - go ahead... I'll wait... this blog'll be here for as long as I can afford the subscription to the domain...


What'd you see?  Wait.. no... let me guess.  You saw...


"no matter how much an interviewer might bait you, never badmouth a previous employer, boss, or co-worker. The interview is about you” and making your case that you are the ideal candidate for the job."




"(don't) Ever make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers, colleagues or companies."


Among other things along the same lines.


Does this make sense?  Sure... to a point. 


If Joe-Blow from your previous job kept stealing your lunch, and no one did anything about it and Joe kept doing it and got a promotion... sure... that sucks... but really very little to do with overall company workings (ie: Joe could still have been GREAT at his job, even though he's a dirty lunch thief).


Note though that "badmouth" and "Derogatory" remarks are a pretty broad category.   Racial Profiling?  Oh well, it doesn't count unless you can prove it and bring the government into it.  You've been targeted to do the office-pet's extra work every day and STILL got denied a raise?  Oh well, too bad, that's not illegal.  Don't say anything.  Your boss drops the ball on an hourly-basis every day... then blames YOU for it, and uses that blame as a reason to not promote or otherwise give a raise?  Yeah - can't say anything about that.


So if those interview tips are a common advisement, this also goes for whenever one posts reviews or gives "feedback" to a company - including exit interviews as well.


So let me recap.


We, as employees are advised, corralled and outright *instructed* to never say anything "derogatory" or "bad" about any of our employers, past, present or otherwise - what does that leave?  Either glowing reports/feedback or zero reports/feedback.  So how accurate REALLY are any of those "best workplace" sites?  When you read reviews online how trustworthy is ANY review?


It's like seeing someone's "ultra perfect facebook life" as the whole and entirety of themselves as a person - it's just not true.  There is a darkside... but it's being actively hidden from us... BY OURSELVES.

But... but the reviews are... like... anonymous, right?

Uh... yes and no.


The internal "monthly feedback" and "manager reviews" are confidential... suuure... because you know... you can only narrow down the fact that this poor review came from one of... 10 people.


Employees are routinely encouraged to "give feedback" but the surrounding treatment

  • Makes them feel obligated to be 'nice', because y'know... the manager sure is having a rough time
  • Encourages an underlying current of fear to write anything negative because they'll find out and you'll get fired/demoted
  • Ensures the employee knows that this is just done for show and what they write won't matter anyhow

Worse - online sites, like Indeed or Workopolis surely encourage reviews of companies... but then... THEY ATTACH YOUR NAME to the review... so further showing the world "See, what a problematic employee look at THIS PERSON giving a negative review" - so the fear is instilled in anyone and everyone writing these reviews - so what you get is a whole lot of fake reviews of either false-positives or neutrals.

But don't bad managers get terminated/fired?

Why would they?  Unless they start costing the company serious money... they can cling like the aftermath of a bad day at a spicy restaurant. 


The truth is... unless a company is found out to do something illegal (ie: costing the government, breaking huge laws, killing people, etc.) - which involves a big, advertised-in-media lawsuit... it's usually reviewed as a "good company" or an "okay company".


... and if the company is really conniving (which many of them are), they will coddle and play favourites to a select few to "boost" their ratings... because of course these happy people will give them good cred... and usually... these happy people are really not concerned about the majority who are being stepped on and mistreated - as long as no one dies, they don't care... actually... I'm not sure they'd care even IF someone died... unless it affected them.

What does it all mean??

Well, my dear jobseeker.. it means this.


We, as a race...as a people - are trained, nay, MANDATED to never say anything badly about a previous job... ever.  Were you racially profiled and not given that promotion because of it?  Well, that's derogatory to the company, no lawsuit, so say nothing.  Were you expected to constantly and consistently provide overtime work with zero compensation, and then punished when the overtime work wasn't done?  Well, saying that is badmouthing, so ... no, you can't say that.


As a result, there is really no way to know if you're going to luck out on a good workplace, with supportive, fair-minded people and staff - unless you somehow manage to personally, off-the-record interview a whole bunch of employees... and good luck with that! 

Final Thoughts...

We have screwed ourselves terribly.


The only way this could change is if the *entire culture* of work "changed" - where answering truthfully to the question "What happened at your last workplace?" isn't seen as a bad thing, or a reason to immediately not hire someone.   As it stands now... that question seems to only be asked by an employer as a gauge to see how shitty they can treat YOU and get away with it "Oh yes, this one is good... this one will keep his/her mouth shut to any mistreatment"


Just remember after reading some glowing review of "best places to work" - ask yourself... how much of the whole company does this really represent? 


Empathize... put yourself as an employee there... and you have been tasked to put a review online... one that you know your employers are reading and if it's anything less than TOTALLY POSITIVE... there might be some "changes" around your workplace.


(oh, yeah, sorry, we just didn't find you qualified for that promotion Joe-Blow... oh, right.. yeah, the company just can't afford a raise to your department this year Joe!... Sorry Joe... I know you really needed that vacation time for your family... but wouldn't you know it... this really important project came up... guess you'll have to reschedule... and on... and on...)


Suddenly... you find yourself adding to the problem... the fake review... the "Working here was a GREAT learning experience... and very supportive" - lies, lies and more lies.


SO yes, it's not a mystery why so many places don't have a healthy environment - WE created it... WE encouraged it all to be hidden... and judging by those job tips online?  We're still doing it.