“When we see a world of objects rather than animated presences and conceive of an earth without agency and intelligence, we generate technologies that are apt to manipulate and exploit. By contrast, when the world is seen with awe and reverence and the earth is recognized as the regulator of all living things, technologies are developed that tend to preserve, protect, and attune us to patterns of being both fundamental and mysterious.” – Glen Slater, Jung vs. Borg

In our modern workplaces, the dissonance between stated values and actual practices often results in a culture of hypocrisy and mistrust.

Despite strong claims about valuing people and communities, the implicit organizational behaviors and structures frequently prioritize manipulation and exploitation. This dichotomy places a psychological burden on employees, creating a pervasive sense of disillusionment and stress.

The Psychological Burden of Workplace Hypocrisy
  1. Shared Desires and Organizational Values: Many individuals join organizations because they resonate with the explicit values and statements that promise to preserve, protect, and attune to their shared desires and community ethos.
  2. Contradictory Implicit Patterns: Despite these promises, the implicit patterns—such as the flow of conversations, organizational design, and power focus—often reflect a reality of manipulation and exploitation. Employees feel objectified and exploited, contradicting the organization’s stated commitment to care and community.
  3. Cognitive Dissonance: To maintain psychological health, employees must cognitively separate their identity and values (aligned with the organization’s stated values) from their experiences of exploitation. This cognitive dissonance creates a paradox where individuals are forced to reconcile their beliefs with their experiences.
  4. Reinforcement of Negative Patterns: This separation inadvertently reinforces the negative behaviors and perceptions. Employees double down on their alignment with the organization’s stated values, which only strengthens the view of them as objects to be exploited despite their efforts to uphold values of preservation and protection.
  5. Confusion and Coping Mechanisms: This cycle leaves employees feeling confused about their identity and purpose within the organization.
    • In response, some create methods to cope and support;
    • others go on blissful with belief/faith;
    • some rebel;
    • and others go deeply ironic and choose to know that the Emporer is naked – yet, they wink and praise the beautiful robes and adornments and use irony and hyperbole to appear connected while still finding subtle ways to laugh and keep themselves within this known role that they are playing. 
The Impact of Worldview on Technology and Culture

The worldview we adopt fundamentally shapes the technologies we develop and the cultures we foster. When we perceive the world as devoid of agency and intelligence, we are inclined to create technologies aimed at control and exploitation. Conversely, when we approach the world with awe and reverence, recognizing its inherent life and intelligence, we develop technologies that protect and preserve.

This philosophical perspective extends to workplace culture. Organizations may explicitly promote values of care and community, yet their implicit behaviors often reflect a focus on control and exploitation. This contradiction generates psychological stress and erodes trust among employees.

The Cycle of Negative Reinforcement

This psychological stress results from the gap between the organization’s stated values and its actual practices. To cope, employees mentally separate the positive values from their negative experiences, but this separation paradoxically reinforces the negative patterns. As a result, employees increasingly feel like objects to be exploited, regardless of the organization’s positive rhetoric.

This cycle leads to a pervasive sense of confusion and exploitation. Some employees cope by pretending everything is fine, others rebel against the status quo, and some become deeply cynical, acknowledging the hypocrisy but choosing to navigate it with a sense of irony.

Future Choices: Exploitation vs. Care

Our perspective on the world and our purpose within it will ultimately determine whether we create a culture of exploitation or one of care and community. By shifting our worldview to one that respects and acknowledges the intelligence and agency of the earth and its inhabitants, we can develop technologies and organizational cultures that preserve and protect.

The future does not lie in aligning implicit behaviors with explicit corporate values, as this alignment often perpetuates exploitation and self-optimization, leading to further isolation and confusion. Instead, we must cultivate an environment where employees are viewed with awe and reverence, similar to how we might view the earth as the regulator of all living things. Technologies and organizational practices should aim to preserve, protect, and attune us to patterns of being that are both fundamental and mysterious.

Building Human-Centric Communities

Drawing on thinkers like Zygmunt Bauman, Byung Chul-Han, Ralph Stacey, and Gideon Kunda, we understand that true engagement and psychological safety arise from treating individuals as intrinsic parts of a vibrant community rather than as isolated, self-optimizing entities. Bauman’s concept of “liquid modernity” underscores the fluid and transient nature of contemporary life, where traditional bonds are loosened, leading to feelings of uncertainty and instability (Bauman, 2000). In this context, building stable, supportive communities within organizations becomes essential to counteract the isolating effects of modern work.

Byung Chul-Han critiques the relentless pursuit of self-optimization in his work, The Burnout Society, highlighting how this drive leads to self-exploitation and burnout (Han, 2015). He argues for a shift from a culture of relentless productivity to one that values contemplative, meaningful engagement. This shift can only occur if organizations foster environments where individuals feel they are part of something larger, with a voice and stake in the community.

Ralph Stacey’s work on complex responsive processes suggests that organizations should embrace human interactions’ inherent unpredictability and fluidity (Stacey, 2001). Instead of rigidly aligning behaviors with predefined values, organizations should encourage open, emergent dialogue and collective sense-making. This approach allows for more genuine, adaptive engagement, reflecting the true dynamics of human relationships and community building.

Gideon Kunda’s ethnographic studies on corporate culture reveal the performative aspects of organizational life, where employees often feel pressured to conform to corporate narratives (Kunda, 2006). To move beyond this performative culture, organizations must create spaces for authentic expression and participation, where employees can genuinely influence their work environment without being coerced into alignment with corporate values.

Now What?

Reconciling workplace values with practices requires a shift in perspective and how we approach people at work and the work itself. By recognizing the world’s inherent life and intelligence and approaching our roles with awe and reverence, we can develop technologies and work cultures that align with our values of care and community. This alignment is crucial for breaking the cycle of exploitation and creating workplaces where employees feel valued and connected.

Organizations can move beyond the superficial alignment of behaviors and values to achieve this and genuinely engage with their employees. This involves creating spaces where communities can build and individuals have a meaningful say in their work. Doing so can foster a work culture reflecting our collective humanness and our desire for connection, love, and belonging.


Bauman, Z. (2000). Liquid Modernity. Polity Press.

Byung-Chul Han. (2015). The Burnout Society. Stanford University Press.

Stacey, R. D. (2001). Complex Responsive Processes in Organizations: Learning and Knowledge Creation. Routledge.

Kunda, G. (2006). Engineering Culture: Control and Commitment in a High-Tech Corporation. Temple University Press.

Slater, G. (n.d.). Jung vs. Borg.