GEN Y workers are driving the rise of the work martyr, employees so driven that vacation days go unused in order to impress the boss — or simply to avoid being replaced.
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The New York Post reports.
But among millennials, that figure soars to 43 per cent, perhaps running counter to an ageing stereotype of young men and women who are lazy, inefficient or misguided on the job.
‘The workplace is no longer a physical space. It’s a state of mind.’“What we’ve found is it’s the exact counter to the popular cultural narrative that millennials are spoiled, entitled people,” said Katie Denis, senior director of the Washington-based organisation. “They actually feel like they have to prove their worth and their worth is proven through long hours.”
- Katie Denis
Graduating into a rough economy combined with an always-connected work environment has created the “perfect storm” for work martyrdom, particularly among the younger crowd, Ms Denis said. “It’s a really tough blend,” she told The Post. “The workplace is no longer a physical space. It’s a state of mind.”
THE WORK MARTYR
The report defined a work martyr as someone who believes it’s difficult to take a vacation because no else can do their work while they’re gone; who shows complete dedication to the company; who avoids being seen as replaceable; and who simply feels guilty for taking time off.
Workers who fit those criteria, according to the report, tend to be more likely to be female (52 per cent) and less likely to be married than their counterparts.
And among millennials, nearly half (48 per cent) believe it’s a good thing to be seen as a work martyr by their boss, significantly higher than the average among all age groups of 39 per cent.
“The reality is many millennials today have grown up with icons — Mark Zuckerberg and others — who have them believing that they, too, can be a billionaire, almost to the point of being unrealistic,” said Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How To Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job. Ms Taylor continued: “They think if they just put in the hard work that they have a better chance than any other generation to make it.”
She said not taking hard-earned vacation time has become something of a “badge of honour” on the job, yet another way to impress the boss and stand out among colleagues.
“There’s never been a more competitive time in corporate America,” Ms Taylor said. “I mean, I’ve heard it called the ‘v word.’ The irony is that the work-life balance is so critical to both the employee and employer over time.”
A TOXIC CULTURE
Thirty-nine per cent of respondents said they actually “want to be seen as a work martyr” by their boss, according to the survey released last month. But that flips entirely at home, where 86 per cent of people said it’s a bad thing to be seen as such by their family.
Contributing to that huge disparity, Ms Taylor said, are the growing number of loaded phrases deployed by supervisors that encourage work martyrdom, especially among those who already feel undervalued.
For example, when your boss says that he or she hopes you enjoyed your vacation, that may mean more than you think. Same thing goes for when a supervisor warns of a particularly busy time ahead, Taylor said.
“It’s unfortunate that too many companies in corporate America reward work martyrs, whether it’s blatant or subconscious,” Taylor continued. “There’s definitely a built-in reward system for those people.”
The work martyr mindset is actually “poisonous to company cultures,” according to the report, which urges those who fit that definition to reconsider their approach to taking time off.
“There’s a lot of silence in the workplace about vacation,” Denis said. “And the tone is set at the very top. But, generally, when people start to feel that they can’t take time off, that there’s no work-life balance, that’s when they start looking for other opportunities.”
This article first appeared on the New York Post : 'Working with millennials is the worst' and has been reproduced with permission.