Understanding your workplace non negotiables

On average, we spend one-third of our adult lives at work. However, if you take into consideration hours spent commuting to and from the office, travelling for business, or time that we spend talking or thinking about our working days the number significantly increases.

With this in mind, it’s important that we identify and define what we want from our workplace and employer. These are called your ‘workplace non-negotiables’ and they enable you to be truly content in your working life.

We explain more below.

What are workplace non-negotiables?

Your workplace non-negotiables outline what you expect from your employer, work environment and culture, including what you will and won’t accept from others. They also summarise what you expect from yourself and how you contribute to your workplace, colleagues and customers.

These non-negotiables reflect our personal values, ethics and principles, providing clarity and direction when it comes to our experience as employees. This set of personal values are not characterised by job role or status and, therefore, an individual can create them regardless of their position in a business.

Why are workplace non-negotiables important?

A set of workplace non-negotiables are important because they help you to truly understand what you want from an employer and your workplace environment. This empowers you to feel fully motivated and content in what you do, excelling in your role.

Having a clear set of personal expectations enables you to make decisions that are better for your professional growth and career path. This provides a personal framework for you to abide by and measure your own contribution by.

Examples of workplace non-negotiables

A constructive culture

Criticism plays a central role in effective communication. Receiving criticism on a consistent basis can be incredibly demotivating, impacting on an individual’s motivation, confidence and ultimately, their productivity.

It may be that you won’t compromise on wanting to work in a culture that is built upon delivering feedback in a constructive manner. Working in an environment where the feedback given is underpinned with helpful, actionable points make for a far happier, more productive team, where people are confident in their roles and all contributions are accepted.


Of course, respect works both ways. When there is mutual respect between colleagues or present in the employer/employee relationship, it promotes a healthy work environment, and lets employees know that they are a valuable part of the growth and success of a business.

Respect is important to each and every one of us. It might be that if you feel that respect towards you, or others that you work alongside has been compromised, this is not the workplace for you.

Accountability and responsibility

You may be someone who feels that taking accountability for your actions and behaviour is an admirable quality, and something that you are motivated by. You may also expect others to hold themselves accountable of their behaviour and mistakes.

Without accountability and responsibility, a blame culture takes shape. This is extremely toxic, having far reaching impacts on motivation, productivity and mental health.

Working in a team and business where individuals take responsibility and hold themselves accountable, rather than looking for others to blame, may be a consideration for your workplace non-negotiables.


Being punctual will communicate a lot about an individual.

Punctuality will be perceived as eagerness, motivated, and organised – all fantastic qualities in employees, that are highly sought after. It also demonstrates respect for your colleagues, clients or suppliers that you may be meeting with.

If punctuality is a non-negotiable for you, and you find other meeting attendees are regularly late, or deadlines are missed, you will need to effectively communicate your expectations to those around you.


Communication is critical when creating a team or business that runs smoothly and successfully. When communication breaks down, it can have far reaching consequences.

Becoming strong at communicating will provide a host of benefits and you should strongly consider making this one of your non-negotiables. This will require you to decide how you are going to improve your communications, before making constructive suggestions to others.

In order to influence others to communicate effectively, you must take responsibility for your own communication. This could include swift responses to emails and messages, even if it is an acknowledgment. This aids you to manage expectations, preventing frustrations and disputes from arising.


Anyone can point out the existence of a challenge or problem, but this approach rarely brings benefits and serves to de-motivate a team. It’s important to work in a company that takes a solution-focused approach to prevent negativity spreading; this should be a consideration for your personal workplace non-negotiables.

Striving to consistently seek out resolutions to any issues takes a different mindset. A positive attitude coupled with resilience and objectivity in all situations will enable you to take a solution-focused approach rather than fixate on problems and feel defeated.

Becoming solution-focused can often inspire an entire team to take the same approach, and a proactive, positive and motivational environment is formed.

How to create and manage your own workplace non-negotiables

Identify and acknowledge

Set aside time to reflect on how you would like to be perceived in your career and workplace. Align these with your personal values and write down the actions required to be able to outwardly communicate this.

For instance, if you are keen to be recognised as an approachable, friendly member of the team, perhaps a non-negotiable for you is to always greet your team and say goodbye when you leave.

Defining this list by writing them down will give you clarity.

Review consistently

As we grow in our personal and professional lives, your values and non-negotiables may change. Evaluating them on an annual basis will ensure that you are always reflecting your true self.

To maintain a positive mindset and feel fulfilled in our careers, it’s important that our needs are met. Although others contribute, the responsibility lies with you to define these needs and decide what is required from you and others to ensure they are met.

Communicate your values and expectations

Once you have decided on your non-negotiables, you must now reflect them in your actions and attitude. This can include verbalising them and discussing them with your employer and colleagues, to reflecting them in all that you do, and even calling-out behaviour that compromises them.

It might take discipline to begin with, but once you create habits to help you live by your work non-negotiables, you will become more confident and comfortable in the actions that express them.

If your current workplace isn’t aligned with your personal values, or meeting your non-negotiables, we would love to help you find a role with an employer that does. Contact a member of the Anne Corder Recruitment team today to speak to us about your future career path.

About the Author

Emma Plummer

Emma Plummer

Recruitment Partner

Emma blogs for the ACR jobseekers’ blog covering tips on how to stand out, managing the job-hunting process and more.