Written by a proud member of Gen-Me
Unemployment figures in South Africa are peaking at nearly 27%. So the fact of the matter is even if you are overworked, you are one of the lucky ones to be employed.
The other side of this is that during tough economic times, companies tend to overwork their staff. Yet there are some positives to this.
1. It will teach you assertiveness
During your tenure, you will learn a lot about dealing with difficult people. But what you shouldn’t neglect to learn is how to be (respectfully) assertive
Having said that, when you feel overworked, but receive excellent experience, you may want to hold your tongue for awhile and learn. This is exactly what Jenna Williams decided to do.
She worked for a year on a magazine. Publishing is a stressful deadline-driven field, and it’s not for everyone. However, it was Jenna’s passion. When her manager left, and the company didn’t fill her position, Jenna was effectively asked to do the job of two people.
Jenna put in the overtime to get the work done. She then started applying for other jobs and another company soon offered her a good job because her experience spoke volumes.
However, there is a fine line between getting great experience and becoming the office doormat. This is a line which you will need to tread according to your own specific needs.
Assertiveness in the workplace is a very important skill affirms Lizanne de Jong. De Jong is an assertiveness coach for Alusani Skills and Training network.
Firstly, you need to express your needs and wants and secondly be aware of your rights in expressing these needs and claiming your power. A lack of assertiveness leads to employees feeling disgruntled, being treated unfairly or their rights being ignored, according to de Jong.
Unfortunately, if assertiveness isn’t part of your character, then any attempt to become assertive may go awry especially if you go too far into the other extreme.
A fine line divides assertiveness, with its darker cousin, aggression, cautions the Improvement Tower.
Being aggressive means selfishly pushing for what you want at the expense of other people. On the other hand, assertiveness means standing up for your rights while respecting the rights of others.
Learn the distinction early on.
2. Time management skills
Some people are fortunate and learn time management skills early on, through tough University studies, i.e medicine or engineering. Others will need to learn time management through various jobs and internships. At the end of the day, we all need to learn it, and no generation more so than multi-tasking dilly-dallying Gen-Me.
When you are overworked, you have no choice but to log out of Facebook, exit Whatsapp, put your phone on silent and do an honest day’s work. And not only is it good for character building, it’s pretty good to help keep the South African economy ticking over too.
Time management is defined as structuring your time in a way that allows you to work most effectively. In other words, work smart. In fact, if you learn a couple of time management hacks, at the end of the day you may realise you are not being overworked at all; you have simply been working too inefficiently.
So ensure you start your day early, plan ahead, think big and most importantly prioritise. Also remember that no-(wo)man is an island. Successful people know how to tap into the power of the team without anyone being taken advantage of.
3. Overtime pay
Jenna never asked for overtime pay because she knew it wouldn’t go down well with the company owners. Even though, as a full time working South Africa, she was effectively signing away her own right to paid over time, she did so strategically and with a long term goal in mind.
Bradly, however, worked for a tech company, notorious for taking advantage of its staff. Therefore, when he had to do the job of about three staff members, he absolutely insisted on paid over time, and management, who saw his value as a staff member, complied.
At the end of his tenure, he had saved away a tidy sum, which he used on a European holiday with some friends later in the year.
At the end of the day, how you handle the stressful situation of being overworked will depend largely on your needs. As long as you make any decision with your future success in mind.