You can tell a lot about a workplace culture by talking at the water cooler. If the buzz is open and free about personal topics, it can be an indication of a positive environment. Constant whispers about office politics signals an underpinning of a more toxic culture.
“The office water cooler, that plastic dispenser of cold water and traditional place for employees to gather, is an icon in American culture, the place to take a break and share news and gossip....,” stated in How to teach small talk in the workplace. The corporate culture comprises the internal brand that is crucial to employee satisfaction.
These conversations reveal job satisfaction. Studies confirm the sentiments of U.S. workers about their jobs. “In the U.S., 32% said they wanted to find new work. That’s about half of the 65% of respondents to the Right Management survey, who said they were either somewhat or totally unsatisfied,” according to Forbes. Does your workplace provide you the inspiration to achieve your personal best?
Job satisfaction is largely attributed to the ability to communicate and get the job done. A misalignment with corporate goals or objectives can cause a huge disconnect that leads to unhappiness. The Power of Water Cooler Conversations, pg. 115 on Safari states, “A mere 7 percent of employees today fully understand their company’s business strategies and what is expected of them in order to achieve company goals”
You can be an agent of change and facilitate dialogue about points of contention at work that are “whisper worthy." Take note of the possible calling to pursue other career options. If work is toxic for you, make the difficult decision to do something about it. The next time you join in on a conversation at the water cooler, pause to consider if the corporate soul is your work soul mate.