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I Left Work Early Today And Felt Guilty, And Why This Is A Problem

This was when I realized that years of unhealthy work culture have begun to make me feel that coming back from work on time was a bad thing.

I pondered about where these feelings stemmed from, and my take is that employees who are committed to their work do not count the hours till the end of their workday, but are invested instead in achieving their work goals and finishing their tasks as much as possible, thus preferring to have higher productivity achieved within a said working day.

Coming back from work early implied that you are disinterested in your tasks and are doing no more than what is expected from you and your pay grade. However, staying back longer at work may mean that you may be putting in more than needed from your end of the deal with your employer, and hence this was not something to be pursued unnecessarily. Following this, it does appear that employees who are less interested in their jobs do not get promoted easily and may stay on in their current position for a longer time due to not achieving more than the minimum expectation or necessary output for their jobs.

Yes, there is truth to the above statements, which can vary from individual to individual, but generally, this is my observation from my decade-long experience at work. On the other hand, people who are passionate about their jobs or are committed to performing well typically tend to stay back more frequently than those who do not.

But this is not the point that I am trying to make with this article.

Even as I acknowledge what is mentioned above, that committed and passionate employees tend to work overtime, it should be agreed also that the main indicator of an employee’s performance and capability should be their work output and quality, and should not be measured by the amount of time they stay back after work.

At the end of the day, if an employee completes their tasks well and achieves the performance index for their jobs, be it to innovate new design or hit and maybe even overachieve their customer satisfaction ratings or sales target, it does not matter how many hours they put in at work beyond the end of their workday. Let’s not forget too that committed and responsible employees are usually reachable by phone even after the workday ends and are unofficially ‘on-call’, so to speak.

It should be defined that the measurables of work performance should be set on what was defined in the review with your superior and not how long you work in the office.

In my case, I left work early, rather on time today at 5.30 pm instead of my usual 6.30 pm or nearing 7 pm, was because of family commitments to take my in-laws out for an optometrist appointment in town that night.

That day I caught myself feeling guilty about leaving office when the sun was still bright and high up in the sky and that felt odd to me, and I questioned how did I come to this junction in my work life.

I wrote above to clarify my own thoughts and derive a conclusion on how I felt about this topic.

If you are an employer, what would be your stand on this topic. Does it really matter to you that your employee stays back regularly for work or would it matter more to have employees who perform well regardless of the duration of their working hours?


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