A Workplace Culture That Rewards Those Who Are Overworked Is Flawed

From PRSA's Issues and Trends email this morning, this post came in from Fast Company Why You Need to Stop Bragging About How Busy You Are. It's honestly my favorite post I've read in many months. The problem today:

"A work environment where logging in long hours and complaining about not having any time in the day is considered a status symbol and a sign of success."


We're all busy. I volunteer for a few different organizations, work a full-time job and spend time at home with my family. It's a lot to do. We know we all have a lot to do.

The problem with the workplace, from my perspective, is when it becomes the norm for you to stay 2-3 hours extra a day. That should not be the norm and it should not be a measure of success.

I know there are always more things to do and sometimes there are client needs after hours, but it shouldn't be an everyday thing to where you're getting to work at 9 a.m. and staying until 7 p.m. or later. That's a problem.

From the article, Brigid Schulte's new book Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, argues that a "workplace culture that rewards those who are overworked is flawed and she challenges managers, business owners and leaders to adopt a new attitude of work, one where performance rather than time, and a life outside of work rather than a life consisting of work is the norm."

According to Schulte, At Menlo Innovations staying late at the office is viewed as a sign of inefficiency and can result in dismissal. The company said, "if you cannot figure out how to do your job in 40 hours, we will fire you."

I know it may seem like extra initiative if you're putting in a lot of extra hours, but Schulte also says:

"...there’s such great evidence that working all of those hours really doesn’t get you where you want to go."

This is something that may have to start from the top down. I would always feel bad leaving first if everyone else was still working, but I also got to work an hour - 2 hours before everyone else. Changing this workplace culture of valuing busyness and hours starts with the boss and managers changing first.

“The culture is set by what the leadership does. If you work crazy hours, even if you [tell employees] to go home and be with their kids, no one will do that. They’re going to work how the boss works,” says Schulte.

I know this can vary per industry or based on what campaign is coming up, but it's still worth thinking about. Just a few suggestions:

  • Be more efficient with your time in your alloted 40-45 hours
  • Leave work at work
  • When you get home, don't complain about your day. Let it go.
  • Make an effort to not make this the norm when you start a new job
  • Talk to your boss or the hiring manager before you start about work hour expectations
  • Work smarter, not harder