What is job creep?
No, it is not that weird guy who never holds the elevator door; or woman in the next cubicle who won’t stop chomping her gum and taking loud, personal phone calls; or the mysterious person who microwaves fish in the breakroom. Jobcreep is the gradual addition of responsibilities and duties, which eventually becomes unrealistic and overwhelming.
The phrase at the end of most job descriptions – and all other duties as required or assigned – can have adverse effects and ultimately harm the work environment. “All other duties” can attract an individual that isn’t necessarily motivated to do the job. This individual may tend to wait to be told what to do, won’t show initiative on their own and needs to be directed. To weed out this type of person during the hiring process, you will need to hire people that are self-starters.
Over the Top
Generally, managers have the right experience and are driven to do whatever is necessary to get the job done. In a company or department, people tend to gravitate toward things they are comfortable with and shy away from the items that are new or challenging. This can create operational inefficiencies or gaps. The manager may look at the gaps and take on the additional workload. “All other duties” for a manager can lead to overworking and taking on tasks even if they don’t have time to complete them potentially leading to burnout.
Maintaining reasonable expectations for everyone in the work group or department will help lessen job creep. If that pile on your desk or hundreds of unread emails won’t allow you to even leave the office before 6pm most evenings, you probably can’t imagine leaving the burdensome workload for a true vacation. Vacation from the job is virtually impossible in the age of 24/7 technology where your “job” is accessible from almost anywhere. According to a report by the US Travel Association, “America’s time off habits, or lack thereof, have resulted in a record-setting waste of 658 million vacation days. More than half of American workers (55%) left vacation time unused in 2015 and forfeited a total of 222 million days…Beyond the pressures workers place on themselves, managers play a key role in vacation habits as employees ranked their boss the most powerful influencer when it comes to taking time off. Further, 80 percent of employees said they would likely take more time off if they felt fully supported and encouraged by their boss.”
Ready for Combat
How do you combat job creep? Be honest when setting expectations with yourself, your workgroup or team. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to additional workload when you are already feeling overwhelmed. Your job shouldn’t always be a source of stress, anxiety or a place you hate to go. We already spend too much time doing our jobs for it to be spent with additional “creeps.”