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Over-ambitious workers make others insecure

A third (31%) admitted to sending emails outside of office hours to signal to others they have been working

Over-ambitious workers are making colleagues insecure about their performance, according to a report by business intelligence service provider Xoomworks.

The survey of 1,000 UK office employees found that 54% admit doing ‘competitive overtime’ by staying later than their colleagues to impress superiors. A third (31%) admitted to sending emails outside of office hours to signal to others they have been working.

This had a negative effect on the colleagues of the competitive overtimer; with 15% stating that seeing their co-workers engaging in such behaviour causes them to feel stressed, and 23% feeling the most uncomfortable when others came into work while ill. One in 10 (10%) employees found the most stressful behaviour of their colleagues to be working through their lunches and eating at their desk, despite 56% of respondents admitting they had done this themselves at least once.

Some of those polled admitted they tried to appear like they were working longer hours than they really were by sending pointless emails while working from home (12%), or using email schedulers to send messages early in the morning while working from home (4%).

The industry worst affected by the phenomenon was found to be finance and insurance, where 88% of employees admitted to competing. Marketing and PR (85%), estate and letting agents (84%), and legal industries (81%) also saw higher than average rates.

Nicolas Henry, director of business intelligence at Xoomworks, believes over-functioning at work is a sign of weak management and job insecurity.

“Being busy and doing long hours is not the same as being productive and effective,” he said. “If people are having to stay late to complete their work there’s something wrong either with their capability, productivity or workload. If they’re staying late to impress colleagues and superiors there’s something wrong with the culture.

“Over-functioning employees may feel more entitled to recognition and may feel overlooked if a promotion is awarded to other, more suitable colleagues. This can affect their morale and productivity in the long run.”