There are everywhere, you just can’t miss them – tall, high-rise buildings in every corner of bustling Kuala Lumpur. Executives, professionals travelling in and out, stuck in traffic. Most of the time while I was stuck in traffic, I looked and wondered at those people, “Why can’t smart companies come up with an algorithm to reduce the traffic even a little bit – thereby avoiding pushing these executives to start their already early workdays even earlier?”
And then I hit a stop. We don’t really need an algorithm to optimize who works from where, but to reimagine the workday for employees.
For most of my career, I’ve worked in technology and marketing. I still remember the firs time I got a device that allowed me to read my emails from the desk. It felt emancipating. Then, as time and technology move on, and as more people got their hands on mobile devices, our always-available culture became an everyone-always-on culture. I’ve never once realized how taxing it would be on all the time until I actually turned it off.
However, at this fast-moving world, and in too many companies, the chance of turning it off would be close to impossible. From the moment executives woke up until they unlocked their smartphones, before saying goodnight, connected teams are working. Without knowing, work seeps into every part of their life, even on day offs, weekends, and vacations. And many business owners and leaders contribute to this lifestyle by operating the same way as their employees.
Negatives Prevail Positives
Many studies have shown that this type of lifestyle – overworking, whether required by the management, encouraged or quietly accepted, brings more harm than good to their employees and businesses as well. Will a team that works in always-on mode be more productive and dedicated or enduringly on the brink of an outburst? The answer is the latter, overworked employees tend to be more prone to burnout and be much less productive.
And with overworking comes health issues which leads to more sick days and a revolving door. Studies also show that people who overworks will drink more and more likely to be depressed due to stress and other related issues. Studies demonstrate a link between overwork and illnesses like heart disease and mental breakdown. Eventually, ill employees will call in sick, and when they feel they aren’t enduring anymore, they quit – and that’s never a good sign for companies costing money and time.
Overworking Doesn’t Mean More Productivity
There’s never a noticeable difference between employees who overwork and those who don’t. Owners and leaders who said otherwise are pretty much in denial or maybe suffering from the same “disease” as well. This was the finding of a Boston University business professor who studied consultants. You wouldn’t know whether your star performer is actually working 70 hours a week – or only pretending to in order to wow you? The chances are that you probably can’t tell the difference, a research shows.
These are pretty much the things that ran through my mind everyday I see people rushing in and out of trains and stuck in traffic. As these people’s day go on, the value they provide to their companies actually decreases rather than increases. In order to end this toxic lifestyle/workaholism and work towards a healthier workforce and companies, it will require clear, honest and loud calls from the top management. As business owners and leaders, it is important to lead by example and pitch your teams, “Whatever work is left or piling up into your evenings, weekends, and vacations – it can wait, leave them and and relax.”
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