We’ve all experienced a “workplace-whinger”, a person who behaves as though they’re always short on time and not managing their seemingly heavy workload. But, according to researchers based in Australia, those “whingers” might not be as busy as they seem.

Traditionally, work-whingers are the kinds of people who pile the paperwork up to the roof and have cluttered desks. They’re always short of time, and never able to take on new work in order to show some initiative. But new studies indicate that some among us knowingly behave this way in order to fly under the radar and avoid detection. In the end, it comes down to laziness and low expectations.

In essence, many Aussies fake being over-worked. The constant repetition of the “busy” mantra has actually been found to negatively effect co-workers and also short-change employers in terms of effectiveness and value for money. Performance Clinic CEO Andrew May discussed the issue with the ABC, identifying several problematic modes of approaching work.

“There’s so many people out there who spend all their time complaining about how busy they are before they have even started their day, that if they would have just rolled up their sleeves they would finish on time,” Mr. May suggested. “These are often the people who are never promoted. A 60-hour work week does not mean 60 hours of productivity.”

Despite the ‘long-hours’ culture at play in many workplaces, some employees simply spend that extra time at work goofing around, checking social media or consulting with their own to-do lists. “People learn the system and pretend to be working more when they’re actually not,” Mr. May said.  “It’s survival of the fittest in the corporate jungle, and the lazy (perhaps cunning) ones learn to manipulate the system.”

Mr. May says that businesses, unlike sporting teams, have difficulty with the lack of performance-based reviews. Even though some may have these types of reviews in place, Mr. May recommends that employees approach their work in the same way a star-player would approach a big game. “Sport is a performance-based culture and it can be ruthless, you either win and if you don’t you are cut from teams,” he told the ABC. “But in the business world you can [continue] underperforming for six or 12 months and be carried along. In sport we play hard and we recover; in the corporate world we try and squeeze in so many things without recovery that we end up flat,” he added.

“It doesn’t matter what sort of industry you are in or what sort of culture your work has, you do have control of the way you work. You need to be brave and stick your hand up and ask your manager how your performance is measured and work towards that. Then you need to look after your own mind and body; a healthy body and brain allows you to be at work and be productive.”


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