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Working Hard at Hardly Working: The tragedy of underworked employees- Part 1

Today’s blog is  by our Program Director for the Coaching Cadre, Chuck Allen.

Imagine getting paid a generous salary for this job:

  • Comfortable window office
  • New computer
  • No one looking over your shoulder
  • Generous deadlines
  • Predictable eight-hour day
  • Freedom to listen to music and surf the internet at your desk

Sounds pretty sweet, huh? It’s not. Believe it or not, this job is hell.

You must punch a timecard each time you arrive at work, leave at the end of the day, or take a break. If you are late for work by more than three minutes, or if you forget to take a break when one is scheduled, you must write a note of explanation that goes into your work file. And here’s the kicker: You may have up to five hours of actual work to complete each week. To put it another way, out of a typical eight-hour workday, you have less than an hour of actual work.

I’m not making this up. This is an actual job a friend of mine had for more than two years. That was two years of misery.

Recently a number of friends and clients have quietly confessed to me that during their workday they have a lot of time on their hands. The boredom is almost painful at times they say. And they are unwilling to discuss the situation with their bosses for fear of getting fired.

Because of the nature of surveys, it would be nearly impossible to find out how common this phenomenon is. Even in anonymous surveys, people would be unwilling to admit that they are not earning their keep. But I suspect this scenario is more common than most people think.

There is a part of our brain that guides us to seek out comfortable situations and avoid stress or challenge.

This is the part of us that wishes to sustain the sense of “free ride” that comes with being underworked. On some level, we actually believe that “down time” is the most desirable state we can find ourselves in. Well, it turns out this is wrong. We actually need a certain amount of stress and challenge in order to thrive and find satisfaction in daily life. Boredom extracts such a heavy toll on our minds and bodies that it may as well be stress.

Part -2  to follow.

 

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