"In this new era of the superjob, everyone does windows, and anyone who gripes about working too hard will hear an even hairier tale from the exec on the next bar stool."
That quote is from an article by Anne Kadet titled, "Superjobs: Why you work more, enjoy it less," in the Wall Street Journal on May 8.
According to researchers, more than half of employees report they've taken on extra roles at their jobs since the recession began. About 2008, employers began increasing employee hours, added responsibilities and started expecting 24/7 responses to calls, e-mails and text messages. Their reason? Efficiency and cost savings.
It sounds good on paper, but the result can cut into productivity. Many are becoming frustrated and fearful, believing they will be laid off or fired if they don't comply with the increased demands. Some are talking about leaving their jobs for greener pastures as soon as the recession lets up.
There are things you can do
There can be some benefits to a superjob. It can help you gain new skills. It can increase your visibility and put you in a better position for future promotion.
It can also put you under tremendous stress trying to impress your boss with your super-charged work ethic. It can adversely affect your home and family relationships. It can cut into free time. And, it can endanger your health. Both genders are in danger, but it is women, who often juggle their work and their responsibilities at home, who are especially prone to job stress-induced irritability, headaches and depression.
Here are some tips for taking back your life and achieving some work/life balance:
Set boundaries: Communicate the situation to your boss. Analysts say many managers don't realize how much work they are putting on their employees.
Prioritize your work load: Do the most pressing things first. That way if you don't get all the way down your "to do" list today, only small tasks will be waiting for you tomorrow.
Do the things you least like to do first: Get these onerous tasks out of the way, and the rest of your day can look like a reward.
Make sure you have time to yourself: Minibreaks are essential. Take a walk around your work area, find a reason to chat with someone in another department or just find some way to get away from your work area for a few minutes.
Eat lunch: If possible, enjoy your meal away from your work area and talk with other people while you eat.
Exercise: Physical fitness can keep you mentally sharp, leading to better productivity.
Spend time with loved ones: Set aside time each evening for yourself and your family and/or friends.
Reward yourself: Examples: massages, that special dessert, outings with friends and family, sporting events.
Take your vacations: Get away to recharge yourself.
If all else fails, start looking for another job in a company with a more employee-centered culture.
Marie Stempinski is president and founder of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in public relations, marketing, business trends and employee motivation consulting. She can be reached at email@example.com.