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Managing a Workaholic Employee

Updated: Apr 1, 2022

Nearly two years into the pandemic and working from home has made work-life balance more of a struggle. Our constant connectedness has morphed into a culture of overworking, unpaid additional hours, stressed-out staff, and the pressure to be constantly accessible.

At this point, you may have workaholic employees instead of engaged employees.

Harvard Business School published a study of over three million remote workers, and it confirmed that many of us have been working long hours since the start of the pandemic. The study analyzed emails and meetings of professionals in 16 global cities and found that the average workday increased by about 48.5 minutes. Employees are also participating in more meetings (virtually of course).

When the study compared data from before and during the pandemic, it found that:

  • Staff sent 5.2% more emails a day

  • Emails had 2.9% more recipients

  • Emails sent after business hours increased by 8.3%

  • Employees attended meetings 13% more

  • The number of people invited to each meeting rose by two

Although the study did note that each meeting averaged 12 minutes or 20% shorter than usual.

So how can leaders help manage staff overwork? Here are three tips:

1. Remind staff to take breaks.

Take notice of when your employees are sending emails. For example, if an employee often sends emails during their lunch or after working hours – take the time to remind them about the importance of taking breaks and avoid working late. You as a leader can ensure your employees aren’t working during the lunch hour by not scheduling meetings during lunch breaks.

2. Avoid sending late-night and weekend emails.

Leaders shouldn’t be emailing or calling their employees late in the day and they shouldn’t be doing it after working hours either. If employers see other members of their team doing it, they should be called out and advised to stop these practices.

3. Encourage your staff to take their vacations.

This is a tough one because as a result of the pandemic it’s harder for people to take breaks, mini trips, or travel – but it doesn’t mean your employees shouldn’t be using their vacation. Encourage your staff to take days off to relax and take a break from work.



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