Organizational Behavior

24-7 Access to Miracle Workers and Other Toxic Expectations

24-7 Access to Miracle Workers and Other Toxic Expectations

In the past, most workers in England’s factories, farms, and other workplaces had minimal rights. Their employers might force them to labor every day of the week with no breaks, placing them at danger of being hurt or killed by machinery. Since then, society has advanced significantly, but there are alarming indications that some institutions are beginning to regress.

This contemporary method of treating employees as expendable objects that may be yelled at, chastised, problematized, and evaluated based on their tenacity, dedication, and several other clichés was captured in the television show The Apprentice.

These harmful approaches exist in many organizations, but what is the impact on employees’ mental health?

Toxic expectations in some workplaces

Burnout is a possibility in some workplace cultures where individuals are expected to work excessively and above their contracted hours. A school in Sheffield recently made headlines in the UK because of its expectations for a new deputy school teacher, worded in its advertisement for the job vacancy.

The deputy head teacher was expected to work from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. in addition to weekends, holidays, and evenings, according to the job advertisement published by the school, which led some people to believe it was a joke. The candidate would hardly have any time left to eat or rest.

The job advert stated that the school wanted someone with “high energy and sacrifice,” that the school “cannot carry anyone,” and that it wanted the deputy headteacher to “stay until the job is done.” The job advert added that the job “may dominate your life on occasions,” notwithstanding the fact that, in the UK, there are laws limiting the number of hours that employees can work a week. These businesses frequently demand 24/7 availability from their staff without compensating them for the extra time.

When organizations want miracle workers

While many jobs don’t require or offer the chance for that, certain businesses want employees to enter, do miracles, and perform some sort of miraculous accomplishment that justifies their employment. It establishes a standard under which employees are likely to feel continuously inadequate and unworthy, which harms their self-esteem.

The Guardian went on to report that this school wanted someone who would “lead with bravery” and, further, “We want someone who rolls up their sleeves, a doer and a grafter. Not just a visionary, but someone who also walks the hard yards.”

It might be challenging to meet excessive expectations without becoming exhausted when someone is recruited to perform not just their job but also more work for free during their spare time.

The impact on workers’ mental health

The news article sparked outrage from teachers, many of whom have been on strike over salary and working conditions, and it brought attention to issues in UK primary and secondary education that have led to considerable numbers of teachers quitting their jobs due to burnout.

The irony is that when organizations set unrealistic expectations for workers, workers lose valuable mental time trying to meet those expectations, which can actually lead to reduced overall productivity on the “bread and butter” aspects of their job.

For instance, if an employee’s duties include both making sales and providing customer service, a company that has unreasonable goals for how many sales each person should produce is likely to find that customer service suffers as a result. This might actually lead to declines in the organization’s profit because clients refuse to engage in repeat business. Unrealistic expectations can be self-defeating.

Other signs of a toxic organization include:

  • Expecting you to be “always on” emails, messages, and phone calls, even when you are not being paid (e.g., evenings and weekends).
  • Expecting you to work miracles to achieve things that are unachievable in the amount of time available.
  • Judging you harshly, even when you have done a good job.
  • Creating a culture in which you are told openly or tacitly that you are not “good enough” to work there.
  • Micromanaging you, making you feel incapable of working independently, and damaging your sense of self-efficacy.

It is best for businesses to have reasonable expectations of staff members and to keep in mind that encouraging a culture of burnout could result in staff members quitting their employment, which would be counterproductive. That can be a costly lesson for businesses, since they will subsequently have to spend more money on hiring and training new employees, and their productivity and revenues may plummet due to personnel shortages and low morale.