Biz leaders have a responsibility to discourage overwork

Employers must help their workforce in achieving a more positive, balanced and healthy relationship with their work, as workaholic employees risk burnout, Hays said on Wednesday.

Employers must help their workforce in achieving a more positive, balanced and healthy relationship with their work, as workaholic employees risk burnout, recruiting experts Hays said on Wednesday.

Burnout has been recently classified by the World Health Organization as a legitimate medical diagnosis. According to the organization’s handbook, its relevant symptoms can include feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job and reduced professional efficacy.

If an employee tends to be the first person to arrive in the office and the last to leave on a regular basis, continually works on weekends, never uses full holiday entitlement and compulsively checks work emails out of hours, he or she may have been addicted to their work and over time these behaviors can become destructive and even lead to burnout, warns Alistair Cox, CEO of Hays.

The potential causes of work addiction, according to the recruitment firm, can include technology and a fear of being replaced, a faster pace of life or professionals identifying being busy as something to be proud of.

“In today’s world of work, being busy is almost perceived as a badge of honour, a state of being that somehow proves our worth to the world,” said Cox, “This mindset leads us to put unrealistic demands on ourselves and our time.”

Hays noted that employers have a key role to play in stopping the vicious cycle before it becomes an epidemic and shared several tips to help business leaders curb the workaholic trend in their workplace.

Employers should think about the impact of their actions and if they sometimes have to work late or over the weekend, they should not set that expectation in their team through their actions.

For instance, if they are working late, they can try scheduling emails to be sent during working hours, which will limit the risk of employees feeling obligated to answer or work during their personal time.

Business leaders are advised to reward “quality of work, not quantity of hours worked” and they should try to openly and publicly praise the productive and engaged non-workaholics on their team, Hays added.

Also, leaders of organizations should role model healthy behavior and attitudes from the top, encourage their team members to take time out and don’t let the workaholic’s habits permeate to the rest of the team.

“There’s a very fine line between working hard and working obsessively hard to the detriment of your productivity and success at work,” Hays CEO commented. “As leaders, it is important that we are aware of the risks both from a personal perspective, but also for our team members and wider businesses.”

Special Reports
Top