Ask L2: This job is draining me and it's affecting my family.
"I feel trapped, I feel like a prisoner to my job. On average, I am working 11-12 hours a day with little time for myself. As a result, my home is falling into disorder and chaos, I am burned out, depressed to a very dark place."
THE CLIFF NOTES
How can I survive this job that has me overworked and at my limit. My family is suffering and so am I.
Take back control. Set boundaries. Make small changes while you wait to make big changes.
Disclaimer: Identities are kept confidential. The advice given here should be taken at your own risk. If you are having true mental or physical issues, please seek professional assistance.
I work in a very busy primary care practice as a manager. I have always endeavored to create a culture that separates us from the average practice. I don't expect my people to work beyond the work day and I would never use someone's salaried position to make them feel obligated to stay late. I am, however, falling victim to this mentality. While I rarely leave at 5:30 on the dot (usually around 6) I am often berated (yes, berated) for not working longer hours. My work day typically starts around 7 and goes to 6:30 in the evening so I feel like I am definitely putting in the hours. While being berated for my perceived shortcomings as a practice manager I am often told that,
A) Every practice manager works unreasonable hours and
B) I am a salaried employee so I am on the clock 24/7.
On average, I am working 11-12 hours a day with little time for myself. As a result, my home is falling into disorder and chaos, I am burned out, depressed to a very dark place, and completely out of spoons (and the rest of the silverware). I am struggling, to say the least.
I've tried finding a therapist to discuss these issues with only to find that conflicts with my work schedule (despite being promised that it could be accommodated.) I've tried taking time off but find that there is little I can do to escape being contacted about work (so glad I installed Teams on my phone.)
I feel trapped, I feel like a prisoner to my job.
There are a lot of redeeming qualities about my job that, despite the struggle, I still feel compelled to stay but I don't know how to make it tenable as it is. How can I preserve my sanity? How can I foster a corporate culture that maintains order while simultaneously preserves my mental health and that of my team?
How can I survive this?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but sometimes we can’t have everything. It sounds to me like you love the work you’re doing, but the environment that you’re doing it in is toxic and untenable. You seem to disagree with your leadership on basic aspects of how to treat employees like humans, and I don’t see a culture that is that far outside of the realm of reasonable meeting you where you are. You may have to choose between that specific role that you love and the culture that you deserve.
Additionally, as someone who has run practices, I’m calling BS on the idea that every practice manager work unreasonable hours, and CERTAINLY on the idea that it happening means it SHOULD happen. Are there many who work overtime all the time as part of their salary without a lick of thanks? Sure. Is that the way it should be and is that the rule for all practice managers? Heck no. That response in and of itself is toxic and abusive. It’s okay for us to overwork you in this way because there are other people in the world who are overworked? Is it okay for them to starve you, not pay you, make you work in unsafe conditions because there are other people in the world who also have those conditions?
No. It all needs to stop.
I understand that it might not be possible to jump into another job or leave this job right this very minute. You have bills to pay and responsibilities that require income. That being said, there are ways that you can address this in the short term in the name of your sanity while you figure out what is next.
Set your boundaries and stick to them. Leave at the time you think is appropriate and supported by a 40-hour work week. Make the choice that their responses will not affect you. When they ask if you can stay late, have a response ready.
“I can’t because I leave at 5:30, but I will look at it as soon as I am able in the morning.”
“Sorry, that isn’t possible and I don’t take my computer home with me, but I will be glad to handle it during business hours.”
Oh, and delete 'Teams' off your phone.
You are allowed to leave someone else in charge when you’re not working.
Those responses are not only totally acceptable, they are ALLOWED.
While you’re taking back control in that environment, you can be on the hunt for what’s next and hopefully find both the culture and the role that you want. It does exist.