The fact that relative slackers are being rewarded more, on average, than their workaholic counterparts suggests that managers are looking at outputs rather than inputs. But that’s not always possible, says Cary Cooper, an organisational psychologist at the University of Manchester, UK. “It can be hard to judge performance in some jobs, so managers still tend to look at visible things like how late someone stays or how much pressure they appear to be under.”
Cooper says the onus is on employers to change. “Happier workplaces tend to have line managers with high levels of emotional intelligence,” he says. That means those who manage with praise and rewards, rather than finding faults. But Cooper does have some practical tips for the badly managed. “The evidence is clear that people who take control, rather than passively accepting a stressful situation, end up happier [and more productive],” he says. One way to do that is to tell your boss that his or her demands are excessive (see “Winning at work: how to manage your boss… and get that pay rise“). Who knows, they may have been too busy to realise.