Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I know I know, half of you that read this will probably argue and disagree with me. But then if you have time to read this, I can't classify you as a workaholic. Maybe you’re someone who screws around on the job wasting time, leading to overtime, for whatever reason. But not a workaholic. Maybe someone who lacks the ability to prioritize their day, or focus on the work they need to get done for the day, but not a workaholic.

I have had a theory for about the last 7 years or so since joining the workforce full time, 40 hours a week 50 weeks a year, that 95% or more of jobs out there are designed to finish in a 40-hour work week if the employee filling that position works efficiently and productively. That includes time for wasting now and then, or getting caught up in various business related conversations that weren't part of your planned day. Once most people get into the swing of their job, they can easily finish up their tasks in a regular 8-hour workday. I also realize that some industries i.e. are not in this 95% the higher you get in the company. And that commission only based jobs, may require more hours for a less experienced or talented sales person. I would find a new career if I didn't get the hang of sales though. I also realize that there are cyclical jobs that require more hours during certain parts of the year. Ownership can exempt you during startup. There are all kinds of positions that are exempt from this theory, so I don’t want to hear all about the ones I failed to mention. I’m talking about people that make a daily, weekly, habit of staying late at the office, and going into the office on the weekends regardless of the job they have.

The thing is, in several of my last few work experiences, I have worked with several individuals that worked ungodly amounts of overtime almost on a daily basis. I also know that many of these people would defend it as necessary to keep their job. In my view, it was/is only necessary if everyone continues to accept the demands for it. But those places had problems with delegating work to the general staff. So that means the overtime could have been prevented. I have also witnessed several people go on and on dramatizing the amount of overtime they put in for a project or during a certain time of the year, when their consistent habits are to show up when they feel like it, disappear for several hours during the day, or waste their time talking the ears off of their co-workers. This behavior leads me to believe their dramatic overtime stories could have been prevented as well.

It’s a manager’s job to make sure that the workload for a position is reasonable, and then to put a competent person in that role that can handle that workload in a timely and efficient manner. It’s also a manager’s job to delegate work appropriately. If he is taking it all on himself or giving it all to one person causing overtime for either or both, then he needs to reevaluate his delegation determinations and perhaps work to train the other staff to be able to pitch in.

My theory is that workaholics, people that make habit of spending more than their 8 hours a day at their job on a daily basis no matter what job they are in, have some sort of martyr complex. They are dramatic in telling stories about their overtime, because they want to come across as the company and family martyr and hero. They have a way of talking about how the company couldn’t survive without their overtime. When the reality is that it could. And someone else could probably do the job in 40 hours. These people have a way of often needing to come in on the weekends as well. It’s really very sad. I suppose some of their families are glad that they aren’t home much. But I’ll bet more families are torn about by it. Some people excuse it by calling it dedication. Ok…so dedication to your job is much more important than dedication to your family.
I’m glad I didn’t marry a workaholic…And I’m glad I’ve resisted that oh so strong urge I have to become one…Right…I have no such urge…

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