If, or should it be when, that voice in your head commands you: “Put down the phone and back away from the desk,” can you do it? DO you?
Workaholic; the term is often portrayed as having a positive connotation, even in companies which support Casual Friday office attire and host team-building workshops. When a prospective employee is asked what one of their weaknesses might be, all too often the answer is a variation of “I’m a bit of a workaholic.” Oftentimes, the person saying those words is actually telling the truth, and doesn’t even know it.
Reading at our headline illustration above – what was your answer? I’ll be honest and say that for many years, as a young professional, I definitely would have been on the job. I didn’t take off when I had a cold – something within myself had me believing that, without my daily efforts, an uncontrollable series of events would ensue and bad things, very bad things, would occur.
“Like what?” I wonder as I write this…. There is no real answer, but probably it included a fear of having double work to do the next day and scrutiny from a supervisor who may have been inconvenienced by my absence. I worked in the supposedly non-stop world of New York City fashion, and did have several people above me in the hierarchy who relied on me for answers, but what does it say of a world where one fears retaliation from a boss when they have to forgo seeing a color swatch for a day, or tell their client that they will need a few days to get the status on some samples being waited on?
What’s your work situation like? Do you feel awkward at the idea of missing a fay – even when it might be a national holiday when the office is closed? Have you ever actually come in to work on one of those holidays, under the guide of being able to dig in and get some work done without interruption?
Do you resent it when one of your coworkers or employees asks for or takes a day off? Does it make a difference what their reason for the requested reprieve from work is?
All work and no play makes us not only dull but impedes our creative energy and productivity. Studies have shown this to be true, just as it’s been proven that being overstressed with a workload is detrimental to our health. Yet on we continue; working ourselves into states of misery and unhealthiness.
News flash – the world will not end if we don’t show up to work tomorrow. If you find yourself disclaiming that sentence, ask yourself why. I can just hear someone beginning to say “A surgeon scheduled to perform an operation….”
But think about it. If a surgeon doesn’t have a system in place where the one to be operated on comes to the table and is left waiting for Godot, so to speak, something is wrong. It’s the same with less urgent cases. When an office will be thrown into chaos because an assistant can’t be called upon to present a document, when a client is given such power that they cannot be told “I’ll need to get back to you on Wednesday,” there’s dysfunction at work.
I’d like to propose every place of work should enact a “Call in Sick and Goof Off” holiday policy. Some places have such standards already; they are called Personal Days. But if the personal day comes at a cost, it’s not really a holiday, is it?
People have been calling in sick when they really are not since the clock started ticking, of course. But usually they feel a need to put on a show. With a raspy voice, or slowly speaking as if it is painful to think, they make their excuses. Sometimes they even have phantom symptoms of their made-up illness while they “enjoy” their day of freedom….
Why not enjoy the serendipity of seeing your assistant’s note, left the night before after you went home at a reasonable hour and they stayed on to make some deadline, of “I won’t be in today – it’s CISAGOI(Calling in sick and goofing off instead) Day?” If it irks you to imagine such a thing, and you find yourself wondering “Would this be a paid or unpaid day off?” just remember, the next time that assistant calls in with a sorry excuse, that the dynamic at play is not one of honesty. If part of your interview strategy entails touting an open door/open communications policy in the workplace; you’re deceiving not only yourself but those you work with.