How to deal with a workaholic

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Employers like workers with strong work ethic. They are assets to the organisation. They can be relied upon to the tough work and see the company through during challenging times.

Unfortunately, working well does not equate to working too much. Hard work pays off, sure. But “an all-hours approach to the job where one is available 24/7 can have a serious impact on one’s work-life balance,” says Megan Alexander, General Manager of Robert Half New Zealand.

Fatigued exhausted employees would be of little use to the organisation, eventually. Here’s how to spot the workaholics in your team – so you can go tell them to relax, before it’s too late:

1 They are the first to arrive and the last to leave.

Punctuality is a good trait – it shows commitment and devotion. But longer hours at work may also mean that the workload has become all about quantity over quantity. Perhaps they can work smarter and get more done in less time?

2 They have no hobbies or interests.

Every person has to have some passion outside of the office. Do you hear your workers talking about what interests them? Always making work a priority over personal life can have serious negative consequences. Don’t wait for these to rear their ugly heads.

3 They are constantly stressed.

Some employee stress is reassuring for employers – it tells them that workers are not complacent and always on their toes. But if workers are in a perennial state of worry, even when they are not supposed to be thinking of work, then this can be bad for productivity and for their health.

4 They never take a lunch break.

They can’t take 30 minutes off to eat their lunch?

Every professional needs to give their brain a scheduled rest. And then, after resting and supposedly enjoying a good meal, brain faculties should be at their optimal state again.
5 They check their email every five minutes.

It’s good that your employees are ready to respond to email. But it is unreasonable to expect them to keep checking their inbox even when they are not supposed to be working.  You’re paying them to work regular hours, not 24/7.

6 They are impatient with everyone.

If your employees are curt with their colleagues who want to leave the office a little early or take time off to work from home, it is a sign that they are exceeding limits – and expect everybody else to do the same.

7 They have only one conversation topic.

If it is not work-related, it’s not worth talking about.

Now that you’ve identified them, here’s what you can do – help them:
  • Manage their time well. It’s a scarce resource, so it always makes sense to spend it wisely. They do not have to do everything. They should be able to tell which tasks are not essential and which are more impactful than others.
  • Delegate. They should know which tasks require their expertise and which do not. Know the strengths of each team member and make good use for them. Learn to say no – if they feel overwhelmed, they should be able to decline or ask for help.
  • Establish boundaries. There are times when work is demanding and they do have to stay late or work extra hard. But these are the exception, not the rule.  Remind your workers why they are working in the first place – to support themselves or their families, and to feel fulfilled, empowered or professionally satisfied.

Related stories:
Could being overworked kill you?
Why firms should offer unlimited holiday leave

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