It's happened to me. It’s happened to Mike. At least a few family members have been cursed. Several of my friends have been cursed by their employers.
There is this mysterious, illogical curse that employers place on hard-working employees. When the curse is set, unfortunately the only way I’ve seen it broken is by the employee ultimately leaving the company.
The hard-working employee gets the most work. Gets piled with work. Gets other people’s work. Gets laid-off employees’ work.
My friends, this should not be.
Instead of being rewarded for their productivity, efficiency and creativity, the hard-working employee sometimes receives the curse of an unending, insurmountable, stressful amount of work.
More work (+ stress) is not a reward.
If an employee is highly productive, satisfied, but not yet bored, then they are probably in their sweet spot of work. If you add more, it’s going to throw off the sweet spot and potentially burn them out.
I get it. They are trustworthy. They are your go-to people. They’ve made it easy to put more in their hands because they work hard and will come through for you. But - they are your go-to people. And you’d like to keep them your go-to people. To do that, you’ve got to care for them. Cursing them with an insurmountable amount of work and consequent stress is not caring well for them.
When your hard-working employee realizes that their hard work is “rewarded” with more work, more time spent at work and more stress, they realize that the only way out is to work for someone else. They recognize they are marketable - after all you didn’t trust that project to just anyone, you gave it to your hard-worker - and they start looking for an employer that values their contributions and doesn’t curse them with work.
There’s also nothing more infuriating to your hard-working employee than getting someone else’s work, becoming overloaded and watching the underachieving employee still get paid the same.
It creates a culture where poor performance is acceptable and great performance is cursed with carrying the work load.
My friends, this should not be.
But, how do you break the curse?
Stop cursing your hard-working employees with more work. Talk to them. Maybe apologize to them. We’re all people. We all screw up. Figure out where their not-bored-but-not-overworked sweet spot is and maintain it.
Have all your people be your go-to people. If there are people who aren’t your go-to people, consider moving them into their area of talent or potentially letting them go. If they aren’t doing well in their jobs, there is likely a reason for it. They are talented, they have strengths, but they may not be using them in the position they’re in. Find a place for them to use their strengths. If you don’t have place for their strengths in your business (you probably do), find a place that their strengths would be best used and refer them.
Accepting the curse of the hard-worker leaves much at risk. Not only is your go-to employee affected, your long-term business culture and productivity is at stake.
It’s in your power - end the curse of the hard-working employee.