In a culture that already works far more than every other developed nation, work cultures these days seem to be trending up regarding silently implied requirements to stay late at work.
While staying late can’t be forced, some work cultures can frame you as a worker who doesn’t possess dedication if you choose not to. This silent implication is not something that should be celebrated as it can take a hefty toll on your emotional and physical well-being.
There’s a case to be made for how unsustainable it is to stay late on even a regular basis. By jeopardising your health, you are giving yourself a smaller chance of being able to enjoy certain luxuries that happy and healthy workers can enjoy down the road after retirement.
In order to find a solution to combat this trend, it must revolve around efficient time-management strategies that don’t detract from the quality of your work. Perfecting the art of time management is essential to maintaining a high level of motivation and not burning out.
Examine processes and optimise
While staying late should be a rarity, rather than a regular occurrence, it is sometimes an inevitability working in certain industries that you will have to stay late. If you happen to notice that many other people/departments are staying late on a consistent basis, that could be a clear indicator that there is room to improve processes as far as efficiency is concerned.
If you feel that it is a recurring issue, don’t be shy when it comes to bouncing ideas off other people in your department for ways to optimise the way that certain things are done.
It’s not that uncommon to see companies using somewhat archaic processes if that’s what people are used to, especially when you consider the time, money, and effort required to bring employees up to speed on new software, protocols, etc.
Having said that, optimisation is sometimes the only way to combat “letting your business succumb to inefficiency, eventually making both your processes and company obsolete.”
You may realise that there is something that can be done to cut hours/week off various processes. If it isn’t a lack of optimisation that is contributing to the issue, then you must examine exactly what it is that is regularly keeping you at the job late.
Sometimes, you may conclude that you’ve been working to the highest, maintainable degree of efficiency, and it was simply a pressure felt from others staying late that was keeping you there. It could even be something as simple as just having too much on your plate.
If that’s the case, you shouldn’t have any reservations about going to your boss and discussing possible delegation of certain tasks.
Reach out to outside sources of comfort
Sometimes it can be tough to know if you’re correctly gauging how critical a situation might be. If you truly think that you’re on a surefire path to burnout, be sure you’re leaning on friends and family not only for support, but also to bring another perspective to the table.
They may tell you that you are completely justified in feeling burnt out and tell you to figure out a way towards a more sustainable path in terms of how much you’re working. What this does is reassure you before deciding on whether the issue is worthy of bringing up to upper management.
It’s important to take the people in your life outside of work into consideration. By leaning into burnout, it becomes taxing on your emotional & physical health which can lead to problems at home. There is no job worth risking the health of an important relationship. By risking said health, you are only putting additional stress on yourself.
It’s interesting, so many problems both at work and in one’s personal life can be remedied simply through the art of communication. Whether it’s stress that stems from finances or stress that stems from working too often, not communicating it will only enable the issue to fester. A blatant lack of communication paired with stress is one of many recipes for burnout.
Have an open dialogue with your collaborators and try to come to a reasonable solution together. If that doesn’t work, don’t be timid about reaching out to higher-ups. You should exercise a dialogue that is transparent but maintains a high level of professionalism.
Don’t let your stress allow your complaints to come out in a way that could be construed as accusatory and/or demeaning.
If you truly feel you’ve been grinding hard at the office, and still haven’t been able to avoid staying late regularly, then it’s perfectly okay to reach out to a boss and tell them that you feel staying late all the time is wearing down on you to the point where you are questioning how sustainable it is.
If you have noticed room for improvement as far as optimisation of processes, be sure to bring that up as well. This demonstrates the fact that you weren’t just trying to complain, but you have put a lot of thought into the optimisation process.
The desire to improve things is a trait that embodies leadership, and a good boss should recognise that. The first step to overcoming adversity is speaking out about it. Hammer down the fact that you take pride in being viewed as an exemplary worker, and you enjoy the work.
It’s perfectly reasonable to express that while at the same time wanting to maintain your health both emotionally and physically. In fact, it is likely worthwhile to bring up your accomplishments, and express that a good work-life balance will help maintain a higher quality of performance on your end.
When bringing up the issue of the silent implication to stay late to upper management, you need to build a strong case for why you feel it is unnecessary. This is where the first step of identifying exactly what it is that is keeping you late.
If you feel you are maximising the way you utilise your time, and you still find yourself feeling obligated to stay late, then reach out to upper management and/or HR to start remedying it before you find yourself amidst a bad stretch of burnout.
HR is there for you to discuss work and its impact on your emotional health. A respectable company will take your comments seriously if you have truly demonstrated a desire to be there through a strong work ethic.
If you still find yourself timid to bring it up, despite being a model employee, then you must remind yourself that staying late is not a regular part of life at work and should only be an exception. There is a lack of sustainability when it comes to grinding that hard for too long, which can severely impact not only your performance, but also your personal life at home.
By effectively managing your time, you give yourself a leg to stand on when it comes time to show how much work you get done during regular hours. If you aren’t completing much work during regular hours, upper management will be less likely to sympathise with your situation.
By being wise with how your time during regular hours is spent, you are freeing up much more time after work which will help boost your performance and overall health.
About the Author
Ian Howard is a contributing writer for 365 Business. He has a B.A. in Film & Media Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His experience lies in a variety of fields including marketing, statistical analysis, and creative writing. When he isn’t typing away, you can usually find him out on the links carrying a sense of false hope that he will improve his handicap, or reading a soothing piece of fiction.