Before we toss career terms out in the open, let's define them. What does workplace culture really mean? It's an environment. It's an atmosphere an employer creates for its employees. It's a bit of a mixture. It depends on an organization's leadership, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes, values, and traditions. This very concoction of traits is what produces overall synergy of a workplace's emotional and relational environment.
That's workplace culture. Now, whether you love or hate yours is something you should think about, because workplace culture doesn't just stop at work. How you feel at work pours into all other segments of your life—spouse, kids, hobbies, free time, relaxation, PTO, the list is never ending.
Think about it. If you've had a bad day at work, you're more likely to scream at your spouse, be on edge, or get irritated with your kids. Maybe you're reaching exhaustion and burnout. Or maybe you love your workplace culture so much, it actually causes you to be happier and giddier.
But, what if your company's workplace culture promotes overworking? How would you even know?
Signs You're Being Overworked
- Inability to focus
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Can't remember the last time you took a lunch break
- You take work home with you after business hours (Can't "switch off" the working mind)
- Feel a lack of ability to finish tasks because of an explosive influx of new tasks and/or requirement of producing an unrealistic output
Effects Of Being Overworked
- People who initially loved what they did will lose passion for it.
- People will leave the company, i.e. there will be a faster employee turnover rate.
- Health conditions, including physical sickness and mental health, decline.
- Absentee rates go up.
- Companies will miss out on amazing talent.
- An organization's core values are disrupted.
In fact, this isn't just a U.S. problem. The Japanese have a term for this. It's called "karoshi," literally death by overwork.
So, to the employers who expect their salaried employees to work 50+ hours and are under the impression that they're getting free labor, that free work comes at a cost: loss of talent for the employer and loss of health for the employee.
So, What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?
Dive into a company. Do your due diligence and research the absolute nuts out of the place (and person) that just gave you an offer. See past the novelty rainbows of health benefits and regular, biweekly paychecks. Really get into the nitty gritty.
For example, see how past employees have reviewed the company on Glassdoor. Stir up a conversation with a current employee working for that organization BEFORE taking the position. Email, call, go on LinkedIn. Ask:
What is your work schedule like? How has your experience been with your boss, team, and other colleagues?
Work-Life Balance Should Be Real
Sometimes with the buzzwords of "work-life balance" being plastered everywhere on social media, blog posts, and billboards, employers can see the allure and use this term just to pull in a great candidate. Then, after you believe a remote position you just found promotes work-life balance, you observe a different reality after starting.
You're working past your lunch hour. You're averaging 10-hour shifts. The worst part is this is the norm and the company and its employees take pride in being the ones that stay the longest and work the hardest.
So, those two hours you're saving on a commute you're just putting back into the company. Driving with music versus frantically trying to finish more work assignments (and still getting paid the same), which one would you choose?
If you take a job with a higher salary, but work more hours, it essentially cancels out.
Ask yourself: Is it worth it?
More Time Does Not Equal Better Results
The harder someone works or the more hours they put in does not guarantee success, productivity, or passion. Push the overworked status quo. Ignore the stinker in your office that wants to show everyone else up by staying the latest.
Remember: A good workplace culture will promote your well-being. It will not promote overworking, which can very well reduce productivity. Statistics show that working past 50 hours a week cause productivity levels to plummet, increases hazardous errors, and increases absences.
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So, whether you're a recent college graduate or professional executive, we encourage you to "work it daily" but maintain balance! Setting yourself up for future career success means taking the time to evaluate what's important to you, because sometimes time can be a greater currency than money.
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