Why you should NOT be loyal at work: Devoted employees are more likely to be given extra tasks and asked for unpaid overtime, study finds
- Researchers have discovered company loyalty is a double-edged sword
- Managers exploit loyal workers over less committed colleagues
You might think being a loyal worker is key to going far in your career.
But being a devoted employee could make you more likely to be tasked with extra work and unpaid overtime, a study suggests.
Researchers have discovered company loyalty is a double-edged sword as managers exploit loyal workers over less committed colleagues.
The team, led by Duke University, conducted a series of experiments involving nearly 1,400 managers online.
Participants read about a fictional 29-year-old employee called John, and the managers all learned that John’s company was on a tight budget.
Being a devoted employee could make you more likely to be tasked with extra work and unpaid overtime, a study suggests (stock image)
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To keep costs down, they had to decide how willing they would be to task John with extra hours and responsibilities without any extra pay.
No matter how the researchers framed the scenario, branding John as ‘loyal’ led to an increased willingness to recruit him for unpaid work, compared to versions of John who were more ‘honest’, ‘fair’ or ‘disloyal’.
The findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found the reverse was also true.
When John was portrayed as having a reputation to accept extra hours and workload, managers rated him as more loyal than if he had a reputation to decline the same workload.
Lead researcher Matthew Stanley said: ‘It’s a vicious cycle.
‘Loyal workers tend to get picked out for exploitation. And then when they do something that’s exploitative, they end up getting a boost in their reputation as a loyal workers, making them more likely to get picked out in the future.’
The scientists said they believe managers target loyal workers because they think that loyalty comes with a duty to make personal sacrifices for their company.
But they warned while company loyalty seems to come with consequence, it doesn’t mean that we should just abandon work commitments or dodge uncompensated overtime.
Instead, this is just an unfortunate side-effect of a mostly positive trait, they said.
‘I don’t want to suggest that the take-away of the paper is to not be loyal to anybody because it just leads to disaster,’ Mr Stanley added.
‘We value people who are loyal. We think about them in positive terms, and they get rewarded often.
‘It’s not just the negative side. It’s really tricky and complex.’
Bad news for bosses: ‘Quiet quitting’ trend for micro-breaks actually makes employees BETTER at their jobs
‘Quiet quitting’ is a trend that has taken over TikTok in recent weeks, in which Gen Z workers do the bare minimum at work to avoid burnout.
The trend has been largely criticised by experts, with one calling it a ‘short-term fix’.
However, a new study suggests that the trend might actually make employees better at their jobs.
Researchers from the West University of Timioara found that taking micro-breaks can boost energy and reduce fatigue at work.
‘Micro-breaks are efficient in preserving high levels of vigour and alleviating fatigue,’ the researchers wrote in their study, published in PLOS ONE.
While micro-breaks did not appear to affect performance on tasks, the researchers found that longer breaks did.
Based on the findings, the researchers suggest that bosses should offer their employees a combination of micro-breaks and longer breaks.
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