Overcoming the presenteeism culture
I’ve just had an interesting morning speaking with Paul Hammond on UCB radio all about the growing issue of how to keep a healthy work / home balance. It appears that it is becoming increasingly awkward to leave work at the standard time and that presenteeism (i.e. you have to be there all the time) is now the norm for many of us.
Timely research completed at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Bergen, the first of its kind in the world, shows that “workaholism” is getting worse. This addiction to work is responsible for causing many of us to blur the socially accepted lines between home and office life. For many years this has been the case in highly paid jobs like investment banking, however it appears that presenteeism is creeping to normal jobs.
- Approx 1 in 5 people work more than 60 hours a week compared to 1 in 8 in 2000
- Approx 1 in 7 women work more than 60 hours a week compared to 1 in 16 in 2000 (NOMIS)
Being a Christian in the workplace
Part of the challenge of being salt and light in our workplaces is not conforming to the way the world operates. It gives us an opportunity to show our values, and even though work is incredibly important (the bible describes the importance of working hard and not becoming a burden on society) what we have been entrusted with by God, such as our marriages, children, our community, is far more than just work.
So, what is the solution?
Here are 4 ways to maintain a balance to prevent us from turning into that poor frog that didn’t realise that he was being slowly boiled to death:
Know the purpose of your life
Develop your life’s mission statement. Jesus had many mission statements: Jn 10:10 I am the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep.
If we have our own personal mission statement it will enable us to know what we should not be doing in difficult circumstances – and empower them to say ‘no’ to certain unhealthy work practices.
Know when to stop
In Mark chapter 11 after Jesus entered Jerusalem he went into the Temple, but since it was already late he decided that his work for that day was over and he returned home with his disciples.
Even though it’s normally difficult if not impossible for us to say that our task list at work has been completed, we still have to determine when a day’s work is done; and this is where our faith can really come up against unjust long-hour working cultures! Jesus was never lazy but never-the-less knew when to stop.
The presenteeism can either be a symptom of perfectionism or fear, but either way it springs from a false sense of values which are opposed to God’s plan for us living healthy balanced lives.
Knowing the meaning of success
What is your definition of success? It’s important that you know because your definition will determine your mission statement and your approach to day-to-day living.
Often success means winning the world in one area of our lives, but loosing it completely in another. Absent, workaholic dads may have fantastic careers but at home their marriages may be falling apart and have no meaningful relationship with their kids.
Maybe we should strive for just some success in all areas rather than all out success in one area. Also we should recognise the seasons in our lives, such as having young children, only last a few years after which we can devote more of our to our jobs.
Knowing what needs to be done
This last one is related to the last point – seasons change and it’s important that we recognise what are the important things that need to be done. The reason why Martha received a mild rebuke from Jesus when he came to stay was that she failed to recognise that even though catering is normally important, the most important thing was to spend time with Him during the time He was there.
If you’re having problems with your work conditions call:
Pay and Work Rights Helpline Phone number 0800 917 2368
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