Is Your Workaholic Culture Ruining Employee Performance?

We’ve all had days at work where you clock in before the sun rises and clock out after the sun sets… but hopefully it’s not a habit. For organizations where it’s more common to eat dinner at a desk than a table, promoting workaholic behavior on a regular basis can damage overall productivity. Workaholic culture is ruining employee performance in your organization; pushing employees to meet one more deadline before they head home for the night or go on their weekend adventures vandalizes the employee engagement strategies you’ve created. 

All work and no play?

Supposedly, the average full-time employee works 40 hours per week. [1] Well, that’s not always the case. While every team member will most likely have weekend or evening plans, 18% still work more than 60 hours per week and another 21% work between 50-59 hours per week. Even if they have no extracurricular plans, that doesn’t mean they need to work more than the hours they agreed to upon hiring. For our purposes, we recognize there are extraneous circumstances where employees will have to work a little longer to get projects done or to compensate for a busy season.

Take a look at the most profitable organizations. What are their work mandates? More often than not, employees are not allowed to work extensively over 40 hours per week. Working more than that might be productive at first, but after a few weeks it takes a negative turn. As Geoffrey James, Contributing Editor at, said:

“In six of the top 10 most competitive countries in the world (Sweden, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom), it’s illegal to demand more than a 48-hour work week. You simply don’t see the 50-, 60-, and 70-hour work weeks that have become de rigeur in some parts of the U.S. business world.” [2]

Where’s the disconnect?

HR professionals feel employees have a healthy work-life balance, but employees don’t agree. One in five employees spend 20 or more hours outside of the office working during their personal hours. However, 67% of the HR professionals mentioned above believe there is a healthy balance between professional and personal lives among employees. [3] While it might be a fairly normal practice to bring work home from work in an effort to keep up, it’s not an ideal situation.

Moreover, many HR professionals feel that work communication shouldn’t stop at the 5pm clock out time. Nearly two-thirds (64%) feel that employees should be reachable outside of the office on their personal time. Employees feel that assumption as well; 65% of them say their manager expects them to be reachable outside the office. Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner of Keystone Partners, said:

“When leadership and employers aren’t experiencing the same reality at work, that becomes an issue. If employees are telling their bosses ‘I need a work-life balance’ then employers need to listen. If they’re not having that conversation, then leadership loses.” [4]

You can amend the problem

Even though employees may be spending more than 40 hours per week at work or with work on their mind, they won’t be as productive as leadership would hope. Give employees the chance to regenerate on their time off with – you guessed it – a healthy work-life balance. Aside from an engagement perspective, it’s good for your company’s bottom line. To bring your employee performance back to where it should be, ensure your team understands how their work affects the organization and their job security. Often times, employees are more apt to spending longer hours in “office” mode when they are unsure of their employment stability.

Even holding regular performance reviews can solve the workaholic culture. By regularly assessing employee performance, you can determine the amount of time they are spending at work and how that correlates to their performance. If they are spending more time at work and getting less done, then suggest they spend no more than their contracted amount of time.

Don’t let your employees get overwhelmed with their workload and underwhelmed with the work itself. A workaholic culture will ruin employee performance – perhaps not for the first few weeks, but eventually productivity will slack. However, with a reassessment of employee appreciation and a targeted performance appraisal, you can solve the workaholic behavior.

Bio: Chris Arringdale

Chris Arringdale is the Co-Founder and President of Reviewsnap, an online performance appraisal software that allows you to customize performance management, competencies, rating scales and review periods. Reviewsnap serves more than 1,200 customers worldwide including, Penske Racing, CubeSmart, PrimeSource and Nonprofit HR Solutions.


[1] – Gallup – The “40-Hour” Workweek is Actually Longer — by Seven Hours

[2] – – Stop Working More Than 40 Hours a Week

[3] – WorkplaceTrends – 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study

[4] – – Study: Employers, Employees Don’t Agree on Work-Life B...

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