How can we handle our boss who is a known workaholic?

Thursday November 21 2019

Q: I work at a mid-level audit firm in Nakuru. The director of the company is a workaholic who likes to work late and even on weekends. This puts pressure on us to extend our working hours even when it is unnecessary, and I’ve heard some of my colleagues complain about this matter. What can we do about it?

It is simple. Work within the stipulated working hours. You can deviate if need be, but remember that extending your working hours every day will get you burned out. Your boss is not just a workaholic, he is selfish too. If he was a caring person, he would be the first to remind everyone to leave the office at the end of their shift, and forbid anyone from coming to work over the weekend unless it is absolutely necessary. I am not excusing his behaviour, but remember that your boss is also a shareholder and not just an employee. He is choosing to invest more time in the company at the expense of other engagements, possibly to increase the profit margins. He has a way of compensating for his extra hours financially unlike you who may not be entitled to overtime. You should start working during normal hours and if he raises an issue, politely remind him that you are well within your rights as laid down in your contract.

You only need to meet your objectives within the contractual working hours and deliver on your assignments at the appointed time. Failure to do so will cast doubt on your performance. Objectives are set considering various factors but in all fairness, they should be attainable, otherwise employees will be overworked. If you are delivering on your responsibilities as expected, you have no business pushing yourself beyond the stipulated time.

Your boss should know that long hours don’t translate to high productivity. If the workload is too much, he should get help from the large pool of skilled but unemployed individuals. Second, there is more to life than just work. We must create time for other engagements such as rest, family, friends and leisure. Third, organisations that encourage a good work-life balance tend to enjoy better teamwork among employees who will in turn be more productive. Lastly, workaholics experience serious health challenges due to burnout, their dedicated employees may resign, and their families often suffer in silence. 

Mwikali Muthiani - Managing Partner, MillennialHR (@MwikaliN; [email protected])