It’s not rare to see an executive who works 80 hours per week. They’re often tired and unhealthy and their relationships may be strained. While they’ve traded sleep, diet, relationships and exercise for work, they still may be underperforming. That’s because workaholics don’t always equate to workplace productivity.

While we all have times when we have to put in extra hours for one reason or another, if your team is consistently working long hours, they’re likely to be harming your business rather than enhancing it.

Pac executive’s recent Workplace Productivity survey of 1,385 Australians found that employees who consistently work more than 50 hours per week are more likely to be miserable at work, and less likely to be as productive as other employees.

While there’s nothing better than a motivated employee, working too many hours and not creating boundaries between our work and personal life isn’t necessarily the right thing for our business.

3 reasons why workaholics aren’t necessarily good for productivity

1. Workaholics can create team disharmony

Workaholics don’t always make the best teammates. They may hog all the great projects; refuse to delegate thereby failing to improve team capability; they often don’t share information; and are usually hungry for personal verses team credit.

Workaholics are more likely to send emails late at night to their weary colleagues. They can create unrealistic expectations on others, particularly if they are in positions of power. Because they are usually tired, they often don’t pick up on social cues and cultural considerations required when communicating with others.

As leaders we need to encourage our employees to have balance. Clear key performance indicators around the number of hours worked, measures related to improving the capabilities of other team members, and building team relationships may be necessary for certain employees.

2. Leadership is impacted

Are your leaders’ inspirations to their teams or are they cautionary tales about what happens when you are married to the job? Are they attracting top talent, or sending them away in droves?

Pac executive’s Workplace Productivity research found that employees who were happy at work are 23% more likely to be productive and have productive habits. Unfortunately, we also found that employees who earned $300,000 per year or more were among the most likely cohort to report being miserable at work.

These days, an essential part of our EVP (Employee Value Proposition) comes down to an employee’s ability to balance work with their personal needs.

Managers who have balance in their life can provide a better example to employees than those who are workaholics. They also tend to be more relatable and encourage higher levels of employee retention.

3. Low energy and poor health

Workaholics are less likely to eat well, get enough exercise and appropriate sleep. All 3 factors impact on personal productivity.

They are also less likely to take breaks, which impacts on the quality of their outputs. Our bodies and minds move from a high-energy state to a low-energy state in 90 to 120-minute cycles. Without reasonable breaks focus drops, problem-solving abilities decline and relationship-building skills are impacted.

Health and wellbeing programs are now expected by top talent entering medium to large organisations. Appropriate benefits programs can encourage employees to be productive by exercising frequently, taking appropriate breaks, eating well, sleeping and taking adequate downtime.

Tips on dealing with workaholics and workplace productivity

  1. Encourage them to create personal boundaries by designating time for their families and personal life (eg family night);
  2. Make sure they put physical boundaries in place by getting time away from their desk and the office (eg lunch away from desk); and
  3. Encourage cognitive boundaries so employees can ‘switch off’ when work pulls our attention away from our personal time (e.g exercise).

If you’re a workaholic, there is hope for you. Introduce a new habit—such as regular exercise—each week to create more time and space for creative thinking. As well as the personal benefits you may find that your employees will learn from your example and produce better work as an outcome.

As Karen May, VP, People Development at Google says, “This is a long game, and little incremental changes add up.”