Have you noticed that you’re more productive than the person next to you? And, do you find that you’re rewarded with more work or training as a by-product of working in this way?
You may be dealing with productivity tax…
There’s no clear-cut definition for what productivity tax is, however the way we look at it is in relation to boundaries and being able to manage your time very well. We all work differently - whether it’s productively in the office or struggling to stay focussed at home, but some individuals naturally finish tasks quicker than others.
You shouldn’t need to take on everybody else's work, all the time
Remember to communicate what your needs are
Your relationships at work are just as meaningful as your relationships in your personal life - but it’s crucial to remind yourself that being rewarded with more work or training may just be what your employer thinks you need.
In some cases, this may be great and exactly what you want - but if it gets to a point where you feel like your needs at work aren’t being met, then you need to communicate that. Your employer or your manager isn’t a mind reader, and very productive people are just as susceptible to burnout as the person next to them.
Forbes produced a great piece on communication with bosses, highlighting the following as some ways to broach difficult conversations where you need to be heard. This can be applied specifically to productivity tax in the workplace:
#1 Be intentional
Knowing what you want to say (even if you need to write it down) is important to ensure that the conversation goes the way you want it to. If you approach a conversation with your boss about your productivity and/or workload without examples and potential solutions, you can say a lot without saying anything at all.
#2 Timing counts
Monday mornings? Probably not the best. Friday afternoons? Save it for another day. Although you may feel like you must get this off your chest immediately - have tact and think of the wider picture of when you’re going to bring up this conversation. Book in time, ensure that both of you are present and free and you’re already setting great foundations.
#3 Speak up
Hopefully, you’re in an environment where your opinion is valued and heard - so don’t minimise your voice and your opinions when raising this. Speak up, and be honest - it’s the only way that you’re going to be heard!
#4 Actively listen
It’s imperative to see things from the other person’s side - whether that’s your boss or even a colleague that you feel may be overloading you. Most of the time productivity tax and being overwhelmed with work from someone or even a whole team isn’t intentional - and in fact, it’s a reflection of how good you are at your job. Actively listen and see it from both sides.
#5 Wrap up and move forward
“Establish and agree on what your next steps will be, and if applicable, schedule a follow-up meeting with your boss to discuss future outcomes. Leave them with a sense of clarity and control, and make sure they understand you’re on the same team rather than someone they have to worry about.” - You want to ensure that things are summarised succinctly and you both know where you stand.
Ultimately, dealing with productivity tax is another way of boundary setting, but is also an excellent way for you to establish with your employer/boss how you want the working relationship (as well as your workload) to move forwards.