Are You Trading Flex Time for Face Time Out of Fear?

BlogHer Original Post

Are you selling yourself short because you're so afraid to lose your job that you're sacrificing your benefits and yourself for the illusion of security? If so, you're not alone, because many workers are trading their very own well-being for something that is unobtainable -- security and guarantees; unobtainable, at least if you're looking outside yourself to find it.

A new CNN article says that more workers are choosing fear over flex time. They fear that out of sight, out of mind, equals out of a job.

Most employees feel there is more pressure than usual to be in the office, Hewlett says. "They feel as if that jacket needs to be on the back of their office chair at 8 at night because everyone is trying to prove that they're indispensable."

First off, no one is indispensable to any employer. Don't take it personally, let your ego down easy.  I've seen it time and time again in my family, colleagues, friends, and myself. You know the conscientious, highly-talented people who work themselves to death only to realize that:

 1) If they drop dead tomorrow, no one will care (other than those that would love them regardless of how much they worked) and the company will go on.

or

2) They aren't immune to the next round of layoffs which they realize when they get handed a pink slip.

What's fascinating about this trend is that we're supposedly in an era where flex time is sexy. It's more ubiquitous and people have lobbied for it forever, and now those same people crawl sheepishly into the corner and say "No, thank you." It's hard if not impossible to rationalize with fear.  As the CNN article goes on to say:

Jane Goldner, a hiring expert and CEO of the Goldner Group, says fear of losing one's job only motivates people for a short time.

"We can burn the midnight oil to a certain point and then we're exhausted and we're not productive," Goldner says. "Fear does that to people."

That fear bleeds into workers' personal lives, she says. Some workers not only spurn offers of flex time, but they forgo personal tasks such as doctor appointments or household errands because they're afraid of being laid off.

Companies that exploit those workers' fears get higher productivity in the short term but they eventually lose, Goldner says.

The carrot and stick approach is almost always a lose-lose.  Just read the book Drive by Dan Pink for some real science behind why that is.

I enjoyed Lance Haun's breakdown of this same CNN article in "False Security: Face Time with the Boss".  Here's just one snippet to enjoy:

Here’s the reality: if you can’t implement a flexible work schedule in the middle of a major project, you don’t have the right leadership or the right people (and here’s a hint: that leadership picked those people too). This whole span of control issue was an illusion to begin with. Any control any boss has ever had is based on expectations set, results measured and consequences delivered (good or bad). None of those things have to do with a location or time but on actions taken and results achieved.

I totally agree, and I also agree with his opinion that it's the results, not the face time that matters. Here is where I see the whole "just give them results and all is well" theory goes wrong.  If you're like millions of people right now, you've been asked to do the job of somewhere between two and ten people.  So, unless the boss and you are skilled enough to manage priorities and set boundaries, it might be literally impossible to deliver all the results someone says you should even if you gave up flex time, sleep, weekends, potty breaks, etc.


toned view of a computer monitor covered with post-it notes


My philosophy is do good work.  Then it is up to you to ask yourself the question: Am I going to choose fear or faith?  It's really up to you to take control of your own career and life.


Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, offers life and career coaching for women to help you boost your confidence and break through your limitations so you can re-ignite freedom and a sense of adventure in your life. Get the free eCourse "5 Steps to Move from Fear to Freedom & Experience Greater Confidence" at her website.

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