It is 6 pm. “Quitting time” was an hour ago, and yet you are still working at your desk. So are most of your employees — and it will be a few hours before everyone goes home. Most of you will be back in the office early tomorrow, too.
Ask yourself this: Is this really the environment you want to foster? Do you really want to be the type of boss who expects your employees to work 12, 16, even 18 hours a day? Is morale in your office as high as it could be? Is the productivity as high as it should be, given the number of hours that everyone works?
The fact is, staying late on a regular basis is more likely doing more harm than good, in terms of your overall career, your employees’ engagement and happiness, and the productivity of your department. While it might seem that working late is a sign of a solid work ethic and a hard-working department, it is actually a sign that your team is not healthy.
For years, young professionals have been advised on the first day of their first jobs to “Arrive before your boss, and do not leave until he or she does.” On the surface, that seems to make sense. You do not want to stroll in to the office an hour after everyone else and cut out at 4:30 when everyone else is working hard. However, if you are consistently working more hours than everyone else, and your productivity is not any greater or your results are not any better, your boss is likely to question what you are doing with your time when you seem to always be working.
The problem, though, is that employees often mirror their boss’ behavior. Most people want to impress their bosses, even if that means burning the midnight oil when they would much rather be at home relaxing. When you stay late every night, you send the message to employees that work is more important than anything else to you is, and it should be to them as well. You also, implicitly, let them know that if they want to succeed and have access to more opportunities — even a leadership role themselves — then they need to follow your lead.
Are you sending the wrong message? Studies show that staying late at the office on a regular basis:
You might be thinking, “I cannot leave on time! There is so much to do!” However, if you commit to leaving on time more often than not, a few simple strategies can help you get out the door.
Undoubtedly, there will be times when working a little longer than normal is necessary. However, if you leave on time more often than not, those occasional long days will not be as troublesome — and your employees will not resent you for them.Back to blog list