Wake up! Hard work does not always pay

Are you working hard every day at work?  Do, you get into work early?  Do, you try your very best to deliver an excellent service to external and internal customers? Do you take pride in your work?  Are you being overworked?  Are you undervalued and underpaid?  Wake up!  Just because you are doing your best does not guarantee that you will gain recognition for your hard work or get access to professional development or be promoted. 

In fact, your conscientiousness may be creating professional jealousies amongst your colleagues which can result in you being isolated, ostracised and or bullied.  Also, it may hold you back from career progression because very few employers and line managers want to lose individuals who are reliable and industrious sadly some would rather keep hard workers in their place and under them.  Additionally, your employer or line manager may feel that because you are an efficient worker, they can overload you with more and more work.   

Sometimes, a bad boss may even ask a hard worker “Can, you tell me what you have you been doing with your day? I need to understand what you have been doing!” This question might baffle and shock you, but they know exactly what they are saying and doing. The inference is that you are doing no work whatsoever.  They are asking you this question to belittle you, to pressurise you to work even harder and to diminish your self-esteem because if they do this, they have more power and control over you.  You may think it is strange that they ask you such a question but they turn a blind eye to colleagues who do minimal work everyday.

I just want to tell you that none of the above is acceptable in the workplace and you should not have to tolerate it.

Are you heading towards the career graveyard?

Has any of the above happened or is it happening to you?  Are you watching some of your colleagues gossiping more than they work? Do you see them not doing any work for the first and last hour of the day?  Are you seeing them going for umpteen tea breaks? Do, you hear and see them being sycophantic to their line managers and colleagues and then they talk badly about them behind their backs? Are managers allowing them to do minimal work?  Have you learnt that they are being given far less work than you but they are being paid the same wage or more than you?  Are you seeing your colleagues who are not half as hard working as you are getting professional development and progressing up the career ladder?

Well, chances are your hard work counts for nothing and you are heading towards the career graveyard.  Fear not as you like Lazarus you can rise again

How do you rise again like Lazarus?

  • Prioritise yourself and your well-being not your work.
  • Learn how to identify what a ‘toxic’ and what a ‘healthy’ workplace is.
  • Learn to be ‘assertive’ and do not allow your line manager to overload you with more work than you can handle. 
  • If you are in a workplace you like look for other internal roles.  Remember, the people in your department are not the people in other departments so do no tar them with the same brush.
  • If you are in a workplace that you are disenchanted with look for another position but do not leave your job before you get a new one unless you cannot stand it anymore.
  • If you continue to go early to work, try not to start working as soon as you are in.  Take your time to settle in.  Do nothing for the first 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Try not to be chained to your desk and take regular breaks.  If you work hard you deserve your breaks.
  • Remember, people never like somebody who they view as superior to them this includes colleagues who work harder than them so be conscientious covertly.
  • Be aware that people do not like people who do not do as they say and do.  So, if you do not act like them be prepared for the adverse consequences.  However, never lower your standards to be accepted by people because it is better to be respected in a workplace than be accepted.
  • Try to ensure that you are working smarter not harder.
  • Ensure that you get credit for all your good ideas and the brilliant work that you do.  Do not let your colleagues and line manager capitalise on your hard work.
  • Talk yourself up in the workplace.  If you do not blow your own trumpet no one else will.
  • Never be too comfortable in your role because you never know what your employer, line manager or colleagues are planning for you.  So, always be on the lookout for your next job while you are in your current one.
  • Look after yourself!  Never kill yourself for a job because the job will always be there but there is no assurance that you will be.  Your employer can replace you in a second. So, make sure self-care is an essential part of your daily routine.
  • Do not live to work!  Work to live!  We spend a great deal of time at work so try to do work that you enjoy and make enjoyment of your free time your priority.
  • Learn how to operate effectively in the workplace to get ahead i.e. try to be on good terms with your colleagues and your boss, socialise with them when they have office dos, go on team building activities etc.  However, do  not kiss management’s ass, maintain your professional boundaries and it makes no sense to do the above if you are on the receiving end of inequitable treatment by your colleagues and or your line manager (bullying, being ostracised, being denigrated, being belittled, being discriminated etc.) as pretending everything is fine and fraternising with people who have no respect  for you is something that will not benefit you in the short or long-term.
  • Do not allow anyone to mistreat you in the workplace regardless of their status, power and job designation. Every employee deserves respect and fair treatment no matter who they are.
  • Finally, it is better to escape from a toxic work environment than to languish in it. 

So, liberate yourself and plan your great escape now!

As the great Maya Angelou wrote in her poem ‘Still I rise’:

” You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.”