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‘It’s a red flag’: Why staying late at work won’t earn you brownie points

Staying late at work is a red flag. Source: Getty

According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘presenteeism’ is the practice of being present at one’s place of work for more hours than is required.

And presenteeism isn’t something Seek’s group HR director, Kathleen McCudden encourages.

“When I see individuals or teams who are working long hours systemically and ongoing, usually it’s a sign that something’s not right,” McCudden told Yahoo Finance.

In fact, it can work against you as a red flag to your employer that you’re not actually capable of doing the work alone.

“If someone is working long hours constantly, it’s a bit of a red flag as a leader [that you need] to say, ‘Hey, what needs to change here?’ I personally look at that and think, ‘What do I need to be doing differently to help this person achieve more work-life balance?’”

“It could be because there’s a lack of resources - it’s too much work - or there’s a lack of clarity around what the important things are to focus on. Or, it might be that the individual person is struggling with some work or is a perfectionist.”

But McCudden said it’s tough to know the boundaries in an office.

“Obviously there are roles and there are organisations where they have quite strict start and finish times like nurses, so it’s a bit easier in those environments because the expectations are very clear.

“But in an office environment it’s more fluid. Companies have a legal obligation to offer flexibility to employees, but it’s two-way.”

You should stay back at work when you’re needed

Most managers know that to maintain high levels of engagement and high levels of morale, you can’t expect people to work long hours all the time, because they burn out eventually,” McCudden said.

But while managers don’t want you there overtime all the time, McCudden said it’s about give and take.

“On the other hand, there are also times where you need your team to step up, and to show some discretionary effort and put in extra.

“There might be a project to deliver or it might be a peak time for the business, and so people have to got to really step up.”

And something to note: “In those times where you really need people to put in extra, managers definitely notice the people who do that versus the people who don’t.”

I don’t know the boundaries at my work, what should I do?

If you’re unsure of what your boss expects from you, it’s important to have an open and honest chat with them.

“People are juggling hobbies, they’re juggling family commitments, they’re juggling study outside work.

“Every single person is different in terms of the work-hours they can perform, but it’s really important to be able to have a conversation with your manager because that way you can surface what the expectations are.

“You need to have a conversation about what’s right for you, and find out what your manager expects.

“I think for me as a manager, it really is more about the outcomes that a person achieves and the quality of the work that they do.”

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