Georgene Huang

According to one recent survey of 1,000 working parents, 60% feared that their family obligations would harm their careers.  Respondents were concerned that family obligations would lead to:

  • getting fired (48%)
  • not getting a raise (39%)
  • not getting promoted (37%)
  • getting demoted (26%)
  • missing out on key projects (22%)
  • being left out of key meetings (19%)

So what do these people do about their worries?  It turns out a good proportion admit to bending the truth, a.k.a. lying.  Here’s how people dealt with their fears:

  • lie about obligations that conflict with work (23%)
  • fake being sick (31%)

Is this fear misplaced or justified?  

Bridget Schulte wrote about the stereotype of the “Ideal Worker” in her recent book:

“The ideal worker, freed from all home duties, devotes himself completely to the workplace.  He is a face-time warrior, the first one in in the morning and the last to leave at night.  He is rarely sick.  Never takes vacation, or brings work along if he does.  The ideal worker can jump on a plane whenever the boss asks because someone else is responsible for getting the kids off to school or attending the preschool play.  In the professional world, he is the one who answers e-mails at 3 a.m., willing relocates whenever and wherever the company directs, and pulls all-nighters on last-minute projects at a moment’s notice.  In the blue-collar workplace, he is always ready to work overtime or a second shift.”

She concedes this is an exaggerated stereotype but presses that stereotypes reflect deeply held beliefs, and that the notion of the ideal worker wields immense power in the American workplace.  

Despite a rational understanding that balanced, rested human beings make better decisions and evidence that concentration and attention-span necessary for decision-making deteriorate after minutes (not hours), we persist in cultural admiration of the Ideal Worker and hold ourselves up to that standard.  Sometimes this is due to very real company or management culture.  Other times, its in a grey area or even mostly in our own heads.  I hope Fairygodboss can shed some light on which places exalt the Ideal Worker and which ones may be friendlier places to tell the truth.