Workaholics aren't the business assets we think they are
By Pierre Battah, CBC News
Posted: Oct 19, 2012 2:35 PM ET
Last Updated: Oct 19, 2012 3:03 PM ET
We hear much more today about cancelled vacations, going to work sick and mobile workplace technology on the bedside table. Recently the news of a high profile CEO taking a 1 to 2 week, micro-maternity leave made headlines. Are we really too important or too busy to take time off or is there something else going on?
Study after study confirms many are not taking time to attend to their needs away from work and that trend is worsening since the 2008 recession.
This is counterintuitive when a third of North American workers claim to be overworked — and by times overwhelmed — yet half indicate they willingly cheat themselves of time away from the job.Pierre Battah says workaholics aren't great for business. (Supplied photo)
Fear is behind much of this. Afraid to leave the job in an era of job insecurity, women fearful of being perceived as less than committed by opting for full maternity leaves and even the fear of being deemed incompetent when replaced by a coworker or ultimately the fear of losing control.
For the self-employed it is the fear of missed opportunities and for entrepreneurs abject fear that all will collapse in their absence.
One business owner who has changed his ways quoted Ken Blanchard to me and said "leadership is what happens when I'm not there."
He has understood that it is in everyone's best interest for him to step away from the business for appropriate periods of time. He and his family benefit as do his employees who have grown and stepped up. Ultimately his business has benefited greatly.
For some, an overstated sense irreplaceability or the fact that some identify way too much with their work is also in play. As one self-avowed workaholic recently told me, my work is my life and there is simply nothing else. This has little to do with tough economic times, a short-sighted employer or poor delegating
Some are chained to their work for reasons that are outside their control and some employers are not helping.
Time away is helpful
A recent study showed only half of employers surveyed were concerned about the longer term implications of their employees not getting away. This in spite of indicators that those who do get away are safer, more accurate and tend to stay longer with the employer.
One employer recently stated that he was not his employee's keeper and if employees chose to cheat themselves out of their time off entitlements he was not going to play psychologist and address their workaholic tendencies.
We also know employers reward out of balance achievers by piling the work on and rewarding unhealthy work habits with praise, raises, promotions and bonuses.
Thankfully other employers take the longer view. They institute "use it or lose it" vacation policies and monitor workloads compassionately. They have open dialogue about hours, expectations and the reasons for perceived overwork or workaholism.
Those who don't take time away from work deserve our understanding, compassion and support. This is often a lifestyle choice and although not in their best interest long term, it is their choice.
Those who, in spite of their fears for job security, having their commitment questioned or the potential for loss of opportunity take the time needed away from the job deserve our admiration. We must value those who tend to their non-professional needs and care for themselves, their families and their communities. Frankly none of us are really that important to do otherwise.
Top News Headlines
- Will alleged Rob Ford video overshadow Toronto casino debate?
- A debate about a proposed downtown casino is supposed to take centre stage at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday, but it seems a safe bet that a still-unseen video of Mayor Rob Ford will continue to be a topic of conversation. more »
- Harper to address Tory caucus amid Senate scandal
- Conservatives gathered Monday night to mourn the passing of a key architect in their rise to power — and to brace for the toughest test Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has faced since taking office on a promise to clean up politics in the national capital. more »
- Keith Boag: Have you heard about the murderous abortion doctor?
- The gruesome trial and murder conviction of Philadelphia abortion provider Dr. Kermit Gosnell is unlikely to change American abortion law, Keith Boag writes. But it has U.S. journalists questioning their priorities and how they cover such a sensitive issue. more »
- Baseball fuels dreams, desperation in Dominican Republic
- The Toronto Blue Jays have a number of stars from the Dominican Republic, but in the shadow of these successful players is an equally important story about hope and poverty, and a country desperately struggling to balance the two. more »
Latest Business Headlines
- What kind of home can $380,588 buy?
- The national average price for a home rose to $380,588 in April 2013, an increase of 1.3 per cent from the previous year. But what can a house hunter expect to find for that price? more »
- Russell 2000 small-company index surpasses 1,000
- The Russell 2000, an index of small-company stocks, rose above 1,000 for the first time. The index is outpacing the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 index this year. more »
- Yahoo buys Tumblr blogging site for $1.1B
- Yahoo is buying online blogging forum Tumblr for $1.1 billion as CEO Marissa Mayer tries to rejuvenate an internet icon that had fallen behind the times. more »
- Xbox launch Tuesday highly anticipated
- Microsoft's next-generation Xbox expected to be revealed Tuesday, and anticipation for the entertainment console's latest evolution is running high. more »
Lang & O'Leary Exchange
The data on this site is informational only and may be delayed; it is not intended as trading or investment advice and you should not rely on it as such.
- 51 dead after tornado levels Oklahoma suburbs
- Oklahoma tornado rescue crews work through night
- Edmonton driver, 62, charged in boy's patio death
- Unknown remains found on Dellen Millard's farm
- Will alleged Rob Ford video overshadow Toronto casino debate?
- Netflix and the rise of binge TV watching
- Ray Manzarek of The Doors dies at 74
- B.C. man feared kidnapped in Mexico
- Canadian on EI shut out amid foreign worker influx