Dedication Shouldn't Mean Long Hours
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.