Work Changes Your Personality

Some jobs are challenging and others can seriously affect your mental health. So much so that what happens to you in your job can even change your way of being.
Work Changes Your Personality
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 20 October, 2022

Work changes your personality. At least, this is what a recent study claims. However, you may have already suspected that the experiences of the workplace affect your character, attitude, and even your way of being.

There’s no denying that everything you encounter in life gives you different perspectives and knowledge. In fact, over the years, you learn from both stimulating and damaging environments. Furthermore, in the business and professional microworlds you have to navigate on a daily basis, you acquire valuable skills related to your personal growth.

However, there’s something else that also can’t be denied. This is the fact that work stress, harassment, or long-term precarious jobs cause you long-term damage. Your optimism fades and your bright and cheerful character often becomes unresponsive. If you’re an extrovert, you become less open to others. If you’re an introvert, you withdraw further into yourself.

What you do every day at work ends up shaping you for better or worse. After all, you spend a good part of your time in this environment.

stressed man to represent how work changes your personality

How does work change your personality?

Perhaps you’re one of the people who find this idea rather doubtful. After all, isn’t personality a stable trait? How can a set of events that take place in a work environment change your way of being?

As a matter of fact, your personality can change and mold itself according to your experiences. In fact, experts believe that it’s in adolescence when you forge a stable pattern of behavior, emotion, and style of thought. However, throughout your life, certain elements vary your way of being and acting.

Therefore, we now know that, as a rule, your work experiences have a significant impact on you. Let’s take a closer look.

The influence of work when you’re young

Your first contact with the labor market can sometimes help you to mature. This is indicated in a study conducted by doctors, Eva Asselmann and Jule Specht, from the Humboldt University of Berlin. It was published in the Journal of Personality.

The researchers discovered that getting started in your working life favors the formation and establishment of your personality. In fact, they analyzed a large sample of people and found that young people become more responsible, kind, and outgoing during their first jobs.

Obviously, this can change over time. However, what seems striking is that this first contact with the job market is enriching for young people of 18 or 20 years.

Some work experiences affect you permanently

We know that few things are more encouraging and rewarding than having a good job. Indeed, in this case, your self-esteem, self-image, and identity are strengthened. However, there are other occasions when work changes your personality by weakening it and making you more vulnerable. There can be multiple causes for this problem.

For example, staying in a stressful job for five years has been proven to change an employee’s personality. Levels of neuroticism rise. In other words, they begin to suffer emotional instability, anxiety, negative thoughts, feelings of sadness, etc.

Factors such as precariousness increase uncertainty and this prevents them from making long-term plans. In addition, when a person has no future projection due to job instability, they become more distrustful, less optimistic, and they feel hopeless.

Unfavorable work environments and precariousness have a great impact on people’s personalities. In fact, they become less friendly.

Businesses should listen

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work recently stipulated that companies have an obligation to safeguard the psychological well-being of their employees. As a matter of fact, if work changes your personality, it should be for the better. It should give you strengths, confidence, and valuable skills. It certainly shouldn’t diminish your dreams or destroy your mental health.

One of the objectives of a business should be to know how their workers can develop more positive self-images. Something like this can be achieved by creating decent jobs with decent wages. In addition, they should generate measures that allow the employee to give the best of themselves, feel valued, and perceive themselves as useful, integrated, and respected.

man thinking how work changes your personality

Stimulating jobs optimize your personality and potential

A good job not only affects your personality but also your well-being. It’s an unfortunate fact that bad jobs are the source of many mental health problems among the population right now. Furthermore, living with situations of mobbing or workplace harassment, or experiencing the pressure of a stressful job for years not only has a mental cost. It also changes many aspects of your character.

More dignified and stimulating jobs are required. The kinds that provide employees with worth, skills, confidence, and optimistic life prospects. However, this isn’t something only for managers to deal with. In fact, the work climate is also created by co-workers and anyone in those environments in which you spend such a large part of your life.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Asselmann, ESpecht, JPersonality maturation and personality relaxation: Differences of the Big Five personality traits in the years around the beginning and ending of working lifeJ Pers2021891126– 1142
  • Bui, Hong. (2017). Big Five personality traits and job satisfaction: Evidence from a national sample. Journal of General Management. 42. 21-30. 10.1177/0306307016687990.
  • Sutin, A. R., Costa, P. T., Jr, Miech, R., & Eaton, W. W. (2009). Personality and Career Success: Concurrent and Longitudinal Relations. European journal of personality23(2), 71–84.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.