The Work Environment

The Work Environment

During the pandemic, millions of people quit their jobs. During times of reflection, many decided to act on their dissatisfaction with work. Many felt underpaid. Many did not have the benefits they needed. Many did not like the work they were doing. Many felt underemployed. Many did not feel valued.

Everyone’s mood was affected by the pandemic, but the reaction in the workplace was huge. I heard two stories that highlighted, for me, the experience of being at work.

One person went to work for a very large non-profit. She was told what the work would be. There was a great deal of technology involved, which was not disconcerting for the woman. She also was aware that there was much to learn. She welcomed that opportunity. The amount of work was significant and there were many deadlines.

The woman was trained by one person. During an important session, the woman took notes. There were five steps to the process. The woman has a difficult time doing the work and made mistakes. The owner of the company told her to go back to the person who trained her and go over it again. When she did, she showed the trainer the notes she had taken, and the trainer berated her for going through the five steps and told her there was a much shorter message. The woman chose to not question how she was originally trained and what she learned was a better procedure. She decided confrontation was too threatening.
In addition, each worker had so much to do, there was no interaction between the people at all.

Eventually, she was fired. The owner of the company encouraged her to tell the other workers (there were many) because she did work for them. When she did, she discovered that every person said they did not intend to keep working for this company.

She said that leaving the job was a relief. She described her anxiety every evening, anticipating going to work the next day. This job lasted three months, and the woman was depressed and anxious.

Another person told me about a new job with much to learn. The owner of the company asked her what her best learning style was. When she said she preferred learning one step at a time and using it before learning the next step, it was respected. All subsequent learning was done this way. The woman felt respected and learned quickly. She said there was an abundance of work, but she picked it up quickly, even though it appeared difficult initially.

She enjoyed the job. She said the amount of work made the day go by quickly and she looked forward to each day.

Too many workplaces do not exercise caring, kindness and respect. With the increase of virtual work, less interaction occurs. The mood of the environment matters, and interactions with colleagues contributes to their attitude about their jobs.

Dr. Natalie Gelman is an Alameda-based therapist. Submit questions to or through her website,