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Press Start: Lead an Empowered Life as a Clinical Laboratorian

Dedication Shouldn't Mean Long Hours

Published May 22, 2010 8:13 PM by Glen McDaniel

Several years ago when I was promoted into executive management, the organizational culture dictated that leaders were judged largely by how much time they put in at the office. On several occasions my boss would deride those among my peers who "worked only 9 to 5" as if they were selfish slackers.

When promotions or disciplinary action were being considered, we would all comment on how "time spent in the office" would play into the decision; consciously or otherwise. We are now in an economic climate where jobs are tenuous at best and I am again hearing the message that loyalty and work ethic must be demonstrated by being the "first to arrive and last on to leave." That is supposed to score extra points and prove an employee's value to the organization.

I totally disagree. Demonstrating one's value can be done by volunteering for projects, encouraging good morale among colleagues, being flexible, learning new skills, cross-training and the like. However, merely hanging around proves nothing and comes at a cost to the employee.

Health might be affected, work-life balance may be disrupted and important personal relationships may suffer. With increased stresses in the workplace it is even more important to reduce stress and nurture all aspects of one's life-including those derived outside of the workplace.

Working smarter does not necessarily mean working longer. While your employer might seem to be pleased at your "loyalty" when you work long hours, they will not respond with equal loyalty when there is a business case for a reduction in force. Trust me!

Working long hours might have some advantages under certain circumstances. But - as a strategy to protect one's job-it is based on fallacious reasoning and may in fact be deleterious to one's mental and physical health.

7 comments

Dr. Ben Kukoyi we don't all make 100,000 a year working 40 hours per week.  We need to feed our families, and put our kids through college.  We don't work a lot because we are greedy, we work because we have to.  So stop shining your virtaul sports car on the internet!

Tim, Healthcare - MLS August 21, 2010 10:34 PM
Chicago IL

It is either a lousy tech or a lousy boss who cant get his work done in 8 hours. Tim really admire those guys who work themself to death? They need to do remedial courses and learn to relax. They need to learn something from their colleagues who dont NEED to work 15 hours. My boss doesnt have to work 15 hours to let me know she cares and is good at her job. Long hours dont mean dedication for sure.

Bernard June 9, 2010 9:52 PM
Detroit MI

Thanks for the comments. I think Ben, John and Jason understand the essence of the blog.

It is always a good idea for an employee to show they add value to an organization. It is also perfectly valid if an employee wants to make extra money by choosing to work overtime sometimes. Additionally, an engaged employee will be flexible and support the goals of the team. So that is clearly not what I am  discouraging.

On the other hand, feeling forced to work long hours to keep one's job, or to curry favor with an employer, or to be sent the message that you are judged by your constant visibility (instead of the quality of your work) are certainly not good. These are symbols of a dysfunctional organization and unhappy employees. That is not admirable!

Hard work is exemplary but forced labor isnt.

Glen McDaniel May 29, 2010 3:13 PM
Atlanta GA

I dont think Tim has read the blog at all. Either that or he is in his own world. Does he want to let us believe he works 10 hour days every day to show his loyalty? Would he work for free? Many managers especially those who cant manage their time well or who try to suck up will work 60 hours a week on salary so they only get paid for 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week. How can that possibly be a good thing?

If your boss requires you to work extra long hours all teh time that's  alousy boss. If you as an employee feels you MUST work long hours to get stuff done or to impress someone you are an unhappy and lousy employee.

Many people are sorry for not spending time with family or taking care of their health or going back to school or something like that.  But ss John said, no one ever says "I just wish I spent more time at the office or in the lab."

Jason L MT(ASCP) May 28, 2010 12:00 PM
Atlanta GA

Invoking "loyalty" or fear is merely the company's way of getting you to work for free or more than you think you should. There is an implicit threat that you will be not given the consideration that people who work more than you will get - eg, promotions or re-hiring in the case of a contract. This is all-to-common bully management by administrators and corporations who don't respect an employee's personal life.

Lots of employees get sucked into this, and out of fear or guilt work longer to comply with management's desires. Employees must resist bad policies like involuntary overtime or working longer hours without compensation both by standing up as individuals and joining together to saying "no" as a group.  Because companies can terminate and are "bigger" than a single employee, it's easy to think the company is right and the employee is wrong. NO. The employee knows what is right and what is right for them as individuals.  Life is to be lived in other ways than at the workplace - remember that adage that no one, on their death bed, says, "i wish i spent more time at the office."

John Fraser, Generalist - Medical Technologist May 26, 2010 5:52 PM
Saipan, Commonwealth Northern Marianas Islands

Look, the main problem I see with you is that you are living in the land of Oz.  I met a Korean guy who immigrated over to the United States and he told me he had off 1 day a year to fish in Korea working 13 hour days, everyday.  I work with multiple Filipinos all who have 2 jobs, and work an insane 16 hours a day working 80+ hours a week.  These are the people that will drop dead from the stress.  If you are an employee and need some extra OT pay, than there is nothing wrong with working a healthy amount of overtime (8-12 extra hours a week).  Also, if you are a manager you will show your staff that you care by staying the extra 1-2 hours a day.  They will probably never admit that to you, but it's true.  Lastly, my father who worked as an engineer always put in 12 hour days Mon-Fri on salary pay.  Funny, everybody but him has been layed off.  The company is now like working in a ghost town.  Giant building, few workers.  People will do what they need to to survive and get by, but I worry the most about those who RUN for the time clock at 3 pm.  These people usually are the ones that care the least.  Even our technical supervisors that are clearly better, stay the extra hour or two.

Times are tough.  Time to get on the pony.

Tim, Healthcare - MLS May 25, 2010 4:15 PM
Chicago IL

I agree with the author, It is how well not how long. How well you do your job, the quality, not just staying and working longer hours. working longer hours sometimes show poor time management and quality suffers as a result.

Dr. Ben Kukoyi, LNFA, Long Term Care - Administrator, Skilled Nursing Facility May 24, 2010 2:42 AM
Houston TX

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