That is a sign your employees are working too hard? And while this might sound like a nice problem for a small business owner to have, a new study shows that millennials tend to be workaholics — a tendency that can be bad both for them and for your business.
The Millennial Workaholics Index, compiled by FreshBooks, surveyed more than 1,000 millennials and here’s what it found.
- 56% of millennials work more than 40 hours a week
- 1 in 5 millennials say they work more than 60 hours in a typical work week
- 66% of millennials identify as workaholics
- Millennials are 8% more likely to work 40-plus hours a week than are people age 46 and over
When do millennials work?
- 70% work on the weekend
- 63% work when they’re sick
- 32% work in the bathroom
In another study by Project:Time Off, 43% of millennials (vs. 29% of all employees) identified as a “work martyr”—that is, someone who feels too guilty to take time off. What’s more, 48% of millennials say they want their bosses to see them as work martyrs.
Why Working Too Hard is Bad for your Employees
What are some warning signs of workaholism?
- Not using vacation time
- Working excessively long hours
- Working nights and weekends
- Having trouble disengaging from work even when not actually working (obsessing about work, checking emails, etc.)
Employees who are workaholics are more likely to have mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, OCD and ADHD, according to a large scale study of workaholism. Whether these conditions exacerbate workaholism, or workaholism exacerbates these conditions, is uncertain.
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Working too hard can also negatively affect an employee’s physical health, cause problems in their relationships, and even make them less effective at work.
How Employees Who Work Too Hard can Hurt your Business
Employee productivity is key to your business’s success, so it might seem that workaholic employees are a great asset. But there’s a difference between working hard and working too hard — and the latter can have negative effects on your business.
- Since workaholics are more likely to have emotional, mental and physical health issues, they can potentially cost your business more in health insurance, workers’ compensation and sick time.
- Exhausted employees are more likely to make mistakes that can hurt your business. For example, they might ship the wrong order, be rude to a customer, make an accounting error or even cause an injury because they’re so tired.
- Workaholic employees can cause conflict with other employees, increasing workplace tension and hurting morale.
How to Bring Workaholic Employees into Balance
As the leader, it’s your job to rein in workaholic employees. Here are some steps to do so:
- Lead by example. Don’t promote a culture of workaholism. If you work 12 hours a day, your employees may feel compelled to keep up. Of course, as an entrepreneur, you might need to work 12 hours a day. If possible, leave the office at a reasonable hour and finish your work at home, or work at home a few hours before heading into the office in the morning. Don’t send employees work-related emails after hours or on weekends.
- Require vacations. If employees don’t use their vacation hours, remind them to do so. If it’s legal in your state, you can set up time off so that unused vacation doesn’t roll over to the following year. This can keep employees from “banking” vacation time and overworking themselves in the process.
- Review your team’s workload. Are some employees truly overloaded with tasks, where they have to work extreme hours just to keep up? If so, redistribute the work more equitably, or look into hiring or outsourcing to handle some of the load.
- Help employees work smarter, not harder. Whenever possible, use technological tools and automation to reduce your employees’ workload. Take the repetitive, menial labor off their hands so they can focus on more important tasks.
- Treat it as a problem. At review time, treat workaholism as a problem employees need to work on—just as you would with chronic tardiness or anger management issues. Develop a plan to help affected employees relax their attitudes toward work.
Showing that you value your employees’ mental and physical health, not just their ability to crank out work, will go a long way toward reducing workaholism at your business.
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