Working at an office is never just about showing up and doing your job. If it were, television wouldn’t be dedicated to milking office culture for both comedy and drama. The Office and Mad Men exist because going to work involves interacting with other people.
If you’ve been in an office for months and still don’t feel you fit in, it’s not necessarily time to quit — but it could be. Office culture can be tricky to navigate, and 73 per cent of people opt to quit rather than address the issue.
Confronting your office’s work culture is an understandably daunting task. However, sitting in an office in which you genuinely feel uncomfortable for years isn’t your only option.
Find Out What’s Wrong
Office culture has a lot more subtleties than people initially realize. Whenever the words “toxic work environment” are uttered, they can conjure images of keggers and casual harassment. If that’s the problem, it might be better just to find a new job.
It’s much more complicated than that, as anyone who has worked in an office knows. Understanding the nuances in your workplace’s values and beliefs may take time.
It’s important to question whether or not you’ve put in the work to fit in, as well. It’s not easy to make friends and being forced to work next to someone for 8 hours a day doesn’t mean you’re required to like them.
This self-reflection can help identify the problem: is it you or them? If you don’t fit in, can you do anything to fix it?
Talking to Coworkers
Putting yourself out there at work, especially when you’ve just arrived, can be scary. Doing so, though, could save you the trouble of having to start sending out applications again. Often, companies have social events for coworkers to interact, but the break room — or whatever the equivalent of the watercooler is — gives you perfect opportunities to connect.
Casual interactions can increase your comfort, as well as help form bonds and even friendships that’ll make the job more enjoyable.
Taking to the Boss
If you’ve interacted with your coworkers, you should have some understanding of the workplace environment at the very least. If you still feel uneasy, it might be time to take it one step further and talk to your boss.
Often, quitting sounds less imposing. More than half of employees have opted for bowing out as talking to your boss about your discomfort can be detrimental to both the workplace and your mental health.
A good way to break the ice, if you’re nervous, might be to request a performance review, then bring up the issues you’ve been having.
The Final Solution
If it’s been several months and you still feel you haven’t made any headway, it might just be that, despite your seemingly perfect resume, you don’t fit in. Sometimes, it’s okay to start searching for something new.
Kenny Hedges | Contributing Writer