The recent recession in the global economy rattled quite a few organizations and people. The number of bankruptcies and layoffs stumped many. There’s no denying that in times like these, those who had a job were expected to go above and beyond their pay grade. Organizations expected that from managers, managers expected that from employees and employees expected that from themselves. But the problem with going the extra mile at work is that it never works in anyone’s favor.
No clear gains
When managers ask employees to go the extra mile, they do so with the belief that it would be beneficial for the organization’s output. Employees do so with the belief that it would improve their career prospects. However, there’s no empirical evidence to suggest that either of these beliefs are true.
Instead, what really happens is that the most conscientious, involved, courteous and sportsmanlike employees get assigned with more work - because they asked for it. In a paper published by Prof. Stephen Deery and his colleagues, he argues that this kind of behavior often leads to emotional exhaustion as the employees have to put up a mask regularly to deal with work related issues and keep going. It impinges on their personal time, affects their relationships with their family or simply denies them time for personal growth projects. These factors have an adverse impact on the employee’s morale and engagement at work, and eventually leads to a drop in their performance over time.
Moreover, a study by the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal indicates that the difference in the amount of benefits received for going above and beyond versus simply delivering the promised results are very little. But most of us are inspired to do so because the consequences of not keeping the promise can be extremely harsh, so we often overcompensate by doing a little extra every time.
The term workaholism is often used with positive connotations at the workplace and official performance reviews. However, research shows that compulsively spending an excessive amount of time on work, and neglecting family and relationships in the process is a negative behavioral pattern. In many cases, researchers have found that such work-related behavior often continues even after it has irreparably damaged a person’s relationships at home and at work. This, in turn, can add to the anxiety, lowering of self-esteem at work and lead to further intimacy problems in personal life.
Employees who exhibit workaholic behavior often find it difficult to delegate work and demonstrate personality traits such as neuroticism, perfectionism and conscientiousness. They feel the urge to be busy all the time, while their ability to deliver actual results may or may not be as high as expected of them. This focus on being busy instead of being productive often makes them inefficient workers. They also lack team skills and find it difficult to be a productive member of a team. Then comes sleep deprivation due to taking on excessive amounts of work that eventually leads to impaired cognitive abilities.
Research has clearly shown that the relationship between going the extra mile at work and subsequent rewards is flimsy at best. Apart from that, doing so has severely adverse impact on your overall work performance, health and personal relationships. Yet most of us continue to tread the same path and put in a little extra effort at work because it is expected from us. But what we need is to stop doing that immediately and start saying ‘no’ more often to work that doesn’t add any real value to our professional or personal lives.