The stereotype is that Americans are lazy, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Americans put in more hours than workers in any other developed country, according to research. Americans work an average of 41 hours per week — 3 hours more than the United Kingdom, which ranks second.
We like to be seen as hard-working, dedicated employees. But at what cost? The American Psychological Association discovered that workers in the United States have high levels of stress-related health conditions, such as fatigue and depression. It’s a problem both managers and employees need to address. Here are some ways to tell if you’re sacrificing too much for your job:
1. You come in early and stay late
Sometimes it’s necessary to put in the extra hours. But routinely working more than your colleagues is probably a sign that you’re taking on too much. Americans in particular struggle with this, with 27% of people putting in hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Managers should take note of who's putting in more hours — and remind them that taking care of themselves should be the top priority.
2. You work through lunch
It’s really OK to eat a meal in the middle of the day away from your computer. This is a natural break that’s part of your work day. It’s the law to offer a meal break for a reason — you need a bit of rest.
3. You miss important life events because of work
Unless you’re a surgeon or a paramedic, people’s lives are not on the line if you miss a day of work. But your kids only graduate from high school once. Managers should be generous with time off when legitimate life events occur.
4. You check your email constantly
Do you feel like you always have to be in the loop? Do you check your phone every few minutes to see what’s going on at work? It shouldn’t be a surprise that this isn’t the path to having a strong work-life balance. Beyond working too much, constantly thinking about work during your off-hours is a sign of being a workaholic. Institute a cut-off time every night so that you can disconnect from the job.
5. You don’t take vacation days
When was the last time you took a day off? If you have to think too long about it, you’re probably working too much. One consistent thing that workaholics report is that they feel stressed when they’re not at work. Take days off and try as much as possible to not worry about it. Work will be there when you get back.
6. You have no hobbies or interests
One easy way to tell that you’re a workaholic is when work is the only thing you do. It’s not surprising that being one-dimensional isn’t a path to a satisfying life. Make room in your life for other pursuits.
While employees can identify and address some issues related with overworking and stress, it’s also the responsibility of management to help. Making sure that people are able to leave work at work and aren’t overburdened is a great start to improving employee retention.