The Temperament Trait of High Sensitivity in the Workplace

20% of the workforce is highly sensitive and consequently many times, highly misunderstood. The result of such misunderstanding can include lost productivity and opportunity for the organisation, decreased well being and satisfaction for the individual, and increased turnover, workplace bullying and psychological injury claims.  

This workshop gives information and strategies in relation to those with the temperament trait of high sensitivity in the workplace so that individuals and organisations can capitalise on the unique strengths of  those with a highly sensitive temperament and minimise the potential vulnerabilities.

Sensitivity Style at Work

About high sensitivity

Research indicates that about 20% of the population has the innate, inherited temperament trait of high sensitivity or sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) as it is known in scientific terms.  (Jung, 1913; Aron, 1991; Borries et la., 2012)

The trait is not a disorder, rather a normal, albeit minority variation of personality that offers distinct advantages in certain situations including in the workplace. Interestingly, the trait has been found in over 100 others non-human species studied to date, and reflects the valid survival strategy to notice, pause and reflect before acting.

A person with the trait, sometimes referred to as a Highly Sensitive Person (Aron, 1991), has biological differences in their nervous system that result in them being more sensitive or responsive to environmental stimuli and having a deeper thinking and processing style than those without the trait.

Cultures differ in whether they view the trait as favourable or not, and in western cultures and workplaces in particular it is generally not considered popular or effective to be a highly sensitive person. This can lead to a profound sense of alienation, loss of self-efficacy, damage to self-esteem, decreased resilience, wellbeing and productivity.

Research also suggests a link between being a highly sensitive person and being the target of workplace bullying and harassment in western cultures. However this is not the case in other cultures. Given that perceived injustice at work predicts future workers compensation claims for psychological injury (Winefield et la, 2009), it is critical to understand the role an individual’s sensitivity style plays in such matters.

This workshop is relevant for those in management, HR, OHS, workers compensation and rehabilitation, psychologists, counsellors, and anyone with an interest in gaining the best from this 20% group of the workforce.