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Is your workaholic boss turning you into one?
Disha Pinge
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July 19, 2007

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Right? But if it's Jill who works all day and Jack is her secretary, he's going to be both dull and unhappy, because his boss will most likely force him into working far harder than he wants or needs to!  

We all know that a workaholic is essentially an individual who is somewhat addicted to his/ her job and does not see much beyond that. He/ she makes little or no time for family or leisure activities and puts in more working hours than are required. Such people are always at the office late into the night; they even work holidays and take on assignments to complete at home. Medical research has linked workaholism to stress-related problems such as hypertension and obsessive compulsive disorder.

More and more working professionals today are falling prey to workaholism and the reasons for it vary from financial gains to escaping marital discord. Technology in the form of the Internet, laptop computers and mobile phones also makes it very difficult for an individual to completely remove himself/ herself from the reach of the office.

The whole situation takes on a whole new perspective, however, when you're forced into workaholism against your will. And how does that happen? Because you're not a workaholic, but your boss is! A lot of professionals today find themselves in a situation where they are forced to do more work just because their senior is a workaholic.

Picture this: You have to submit a working report to your boss in a week's time. He is to review it and then pass it on to the board of directors. Now you may have wanted to submit the report on a Monday because you have other responsibilities to look to as well, but your boss stays late at the office each night and finishes all pending assignments by Thursday. He then wants the report first thing Friday morning so he can go through it on the weekend, thereby saving himself some office time the coming week to complete other tasks. As a result, you also end up spending long hours at the office like he does, just to hand in a report four days before the deadline.

To get out of such situations is tricky -- you don't want to offend your senior and at the same time, you don't want to overwork yourself. Twenty-nine-year-old Priya Kumar* works in a legal firm. She says, "My boss is a total workaholic. He gets to the office earlier than most people. He is self-motivated and has long work hours even at 68 years of age. How does that affect me? Well, I take it positively and am totally inspired by him. I get to work earlier than him. I endeavour to do every project he sends my way as well as I can, so that I can leave as early as possible. But there are loads of people who are irritated with his work addiction because he keeps them at the office late into the night. They keep suggesting that he spend more time with his family or take a holiday!"

It isn't always easy to talk to your boss in such a manner, though -- there are those who may take offence to such familiarity with their employees. But you can make life a little easier for yourself by compromising a little like Priya -- complete what you've been assigned and leave the office once you're done.

Your relationship with your seniors and colleagues is very important. If your boss is friendly, you could suggest that he/ she take a vacation or bring attention to the accumulated leave he/ she is entitled to. In more subtle ways you could also show him/ her that more time needs to be spent at home. Things like asking about the children's exams or spouse's health may help remind workaholic bosses of their neglect towards family. For this you need to be very tactful. Directly accusing seniors of overworking their employees will most likely get them annoyed.   

Sometimes it helps to speak to other colleagues and jointly approach the management authorities or the HR department if the matter is getting out of hand. Beyond a point, it is essential to put your foot down, but the way in which this message is communicated is crucial in its effectiveness. Be subtle but firm. If you have a good track record at the office, then it is much simpler to simply approach the boss and draw attention tot he fact that you're overworked.

It is necessary to take action before you turn into a workaholic yourself. It is detrimental not only to your health but also to your family life.

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