Addicted to Work vs Work Harder

When it comes to work, many people are guilty of letting it take over their personal life beyond working hours – be it by replying to emails at the dinner table, or thinking of work while on a holiday. Especially with instant access to technological devices making it harder to disconnect from work, thus blurring the line between a hard worker and a workaholic.

In fact, a Harvard Business Review research, analysed by Instant Offices alongside other reports, revealed 54% of employees check work emails on holiday, while 6% admit to even checking them at a funeral.

Further, a separate UK report analysed showed that the average chief executive officer works 62.5 hours a week – around 21.3 hours above the global baseline of 41.2 hours.

While these reports are based on figures in the UK, they are still evidently relevant to Asia.

But then again, maybe it’s just the work requirement. Since you’re the ultimate decision maker in the organization, you just have to be around most of the time, anytime, every time , always available. Right?

After all, not only did a recent study by Monster reveal Singaporeans generally feel they have an “average” work-life balance, but a separate report also found 25% of Singaporeans almost never leave work on time. As such, it is important for both employees and employers to be able to differentiate between pure desire to put in hard work and addiction to the work life.

The following was highlighted in Instant Offices’ findings:

Firstly, according to the Bergen Work Addiction Scale, replying ‘often’ or ‘always’ to at least four of the following may indicate a work addiction:

  • You think of how you can free up more time to work.
  • You spend much more time working than initially intended.
  • You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression.
  • You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
  • You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
  • You de-prioritise hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work.
  • You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
  • You ignore your family and friends. Constantly on the phone replying to work / work related emails and text.

In line with that, an analysis of results from studies carried out by CIPD showed a sharp increase in presenteeism in the UK – from 26% in 2010, to 86% in 2017.

Definition: presenteeism : the practice of being present at one’s place of work for more hours than is required, especially as a manifestation of insecurity about one’s job.

This was found to lead to lower employee productivity at work, as well employees believing their number of hours at the desk matter more than their quality of output – similar to a study on Singaporeans which found 61% stay late just to “show face”. Interestingly enough, I’ve heard of similar culture practiced in Kuala Lumpur.

According to Instant Offices’ further findings, this can be done by having employees regain the balance between their work life and personal life and avoid facing stress and poor health as a result of work addiction.

Additionally, having a trusted team of talented employees, who can perform their tasks effectively would allow for team leads to focus their strengths on more pressing tasks.

Further, with meetings seen as time wasters, it would be good to hold shorter meetings. Do also consider setting aside dedicated work hours for employees to interact face-to-face rather than over email.

Aside from that, work-life balance is constantly sought after by employees all around. Thus, do consider instilling flexible working hours and shorter working hours across the board.

Lastly, encourage employees to avoid work matters during personal time. For this to be successful, employers have to play their part in ensuring they do not send work emails or contact employees for work queries on the weekends or during their breaks.

Although, in the end, it might be more of a personal choice with personal preference and trade-off would take place. Better managed presenteeism you might be more ‘visible’ in the office, which likely to result in better performance rating and faster career track. The trade off, of course could be less family time, stress, and many other unpleasant things. Since, I remember one of my former superior once said, there’s no such thing as work-life balance, it’s just to which you given the priority.

credit: Instant offices

Source: Human Resources Online

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Categories: Careers & Work Life Pro Tip, Personal Development, Reading Notes

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