Are you the person at the office everyone goes to first when they have a problem they need solving? That’s awesome. Being a reliable, knowledgable part of a team makes you an invaluable asset (and probably seriously lowers your chances of getting fired). Sure, being helpful isn’t the kind of work habit you need to break and it definitely doesn’t make you an annoying coworker, but being there for your fellow employees can wear you out and leave you with less energy to get your own work done. A new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology says that helping your fellow coworkers too often can lead to poor job performance and mental and emotional exhaustion — yikes!
Researchers at Michigan State University surveyed 68 employees in various industries twice a day for fifteen consecutive work days. Respondents were asked if statements were true or false, like “Today, I went out of my way to help coworkers who asked for my help with work-related problems” and were given a scale to measure their exhaustion levels.
The days that the respondents helped their coworkers the most were the days that they drank the most coffee, took the most breaks and reported feeling the most tired. It was even worse for those who considered themselves to have high “pro-social motivation,” which just means they really care about the welfare of others. “When these folks are asked for help, they feel a strong obligation to provide help, which can be especially taxing,” study co-author Russell Johnson says.
Basically, once you start helping others with their work-related tasks, you don’t have as much physical or emotional energy to do your own projects, which can lower your overall job performance over time. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t give help — or ask for it, for that matter. One small thing that reportedly had a major impact on counteracting the negative consequences was receiving a simple thank you from the help-seekers.
Do you find yourself helping your coworkers on the regular? Does it ever effect your own work? Tweet us @BritandCo and tell us!
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