For many, the title of ‘workaholic’ is something to be aspired towards. Being seen to be wholly dedicated to putting the hours in, above all else, is an achievement to some employees and employers.However, the benefits of this ethic are… questionable. Work Matyrs, the deadly truth.

Work Martyrdom

The idea of a ‘Workaholic’ doing the job pretty much 24/7 is one that doesn’t really benefit anyone. This is because despite it representing dedication, commitment and increased hours being put into a task, it also very quickly leads to increased stress and tiredness and a draining of creativity. This inevitably leads to more mistakes being made.

Another word for this is a ‘work martyr’. A study in the USA conducted earlier this year, Project: Time Off’s The Work Martyr’s Cautionary Tale, reports that 39% of all people who took part in the project wanted to be seen as a work martyr. This figure rises when the employee isn’t happy in their current job, whether that be the job itself or the company, to nearly half (47% and 46% respectively).

The question is why do people feel this way?

Generation Game

The answer may lie in how old each individual is. Millennials (people born in between 1981-1997) are most likely to want to be seen as a work martyr. 48% of all Millennials who took part in the report said that being seen as a work martyr is a good thing. This figures drops gradually when going up the age groups to 32% for Baby Boomers (people born in between 1946-1964).

One of the key reasons could be that Millennials are more likely to have not been at their current job as long as the older generations. As a result, they perhaps feel the need to prove themselves to their bosses.

Another reason to add on top is that Millennials are less likely to be married or have a family of their own, particularly the younger ages. Therefore, they have less in their life than work And some might say less demand for a healthier work-life balance

The internet plays a part too. Millennials are the first generation to have the internet as a ubiquitous tool in everyday life. Particularly now with the advent of modern smartphones, where the internet can be taken anywhere. This means that things such as work emails can be checked no matter where they are. Even when away from their desk, as sporadic that may be, they can still keep up to date. This constant connectivity may make it harder to switch off from work.

Culture Change

What can be done to change this attitude?

The benefits of not draining yourself from working day in and day out are countless from both a productivity and a satisfaction level. Creativity, productivity and enthusiasm all decrease after long hours without breaks, or from a buildup of stress.

The importance of a work-life balance should be more heavily pushed. Taking breaks, stepping away from the computer, blocking work related correspondence when you’re not working and more can all help with creating a healthier relationship with work.

Taking time off and going to new places, seeing new things and meeting new people can be a springboard for a wave of inspiration that can lead to new ideas at work.

Quality > Quantity

Ultimately, just because someone spends more time at work, it doesn’t equate to doing a better job. Stress and tiredness often ends badly. Sloppy work, mistakes and even incomplete work can all easily become reality if someone is a work martyr.

Being organised with your work, making sure what needs to be done is completed, is far more important than trying to cram as much work into your day as possible. Prioritising with deadlines is a good way to accomplish this, even if there isn’t one, crafting one can be just as effective. Writing it down or setting a reminder can help to actually stick with it.

Ultimately, to reduce the number of work martyrs, it’s going to require support from the bosses of those who feel this way, as well as the friends and family. An attitude change is required, and a push for a healthier work-life balance.