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News Article

Workers under pressure to do extra work for their bosses

Published 2 April 2015 by

Bosses – at times they can be really, really demanding. What, for example, would you do if you suddenly found yourself working for the likes of Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada – Miranda Priestly? Who knows, maybe you already do. If you do, how do you deal with the daily “get me this”, “fetch me that”, “just work until 10pm tonight” attitude? Do you smile and put up with it because, well, it’s your job and you’d like to keep it, thank you very much. Or, do you put your foot down and say no!

What do people do?

Working for a boss who demands you do all kinds of other little things on the side can be both physically and mentally exhausting. But, people do it! In fact, lots of people do stuff for their bosses that are not part of their job remit and should not be expected. For example, research* carried out for us showed that seven in 10 employees had done something for their boss that was not part of their official job description. The on-the-side jobs included:

Giving their boss a lift 52%
Buying their boss lunch 51%
Going to the Post Office for them 49%
Doing their work for them 46%
Shopping for them 43%
Picking them up a coffee on the way in 40%
Making travel/dinner reservations 29%
Lying for them to cover their backs 29%
Picking up their dry cleaning 19%
Walking their dog 18%

Why do we do it?

So, what possesses so many of us to do things – for nothing – that are way beyond what would be expected for our job role? Well, most of the people, over half in fact, who responded to our survey said they did them because they don’t mind – how very kind of them! The majority of those remaining said they felt obliged to do it because it was their boss asking or they felt they didn’t have a choice. Just under 5%, were trying to get on their boss’ good side, giving wanting to impress their boss as their reason, and the remaining 2% didn’t know why they were doing the extra jobs!

And, contrary to what most of those in our office thought would be the case, the split between how many women do extra jobs compared to men was pretty even with men on 48% women on 52%.

Of course, doing things for nothing can work in your favour. It all depends on who you work for and how much they appreciate your extra effort. Some bosses will see it as you being super enthusiastic and reward you for all your hard work and dedication. Others, however, might see you as a pushover and take advantage of your good and helpful nature.

The dark side

And, whilst this may seem like a bit of a laugh, having a boss make unreasonable demands of you time and again can become tiresome. In some cases, it just becomes too much and the stress of it can become overwhelming. So, if you feel you’re being put-up-on by your boss, learn to say no. If the thought of doing this makes you shudder, try using the advice in this Management Today article – How to handle unreasonable bosses.

*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 11th February and 23rd February 2015, of whom 635 were in Scotland.