Should You ‘Go Above And Beyond’ At Work?
If career success is at the top of your agenda, then without a doubt, going above and beyond at work should always be one of your priorities. Not only can it help get you noticed when it comes time to award promotions and pay rises, it can also help you stand out as a team player and source of positivity and inspiration for your colleagues.
What does it mean to ‘go above and beyond’ at work?
Generally, going above and beyond means doing more than your job description indicates, like volunteering for extra projects on top of your regular workload, or occasionally putting in extra hours. It means continually surpassing the expectations of others, and always striving to impress. However, there is a fine line to tread when it comes to going above and beyond – and one that’s not always easy to navigate. We all want to do our very best at work, but no one wants to be taken advantage of, or put themselves at risk of burnout. When we conducted a poll on LinkedIn asking, ‘Should you go above and beyond at work?’, the majority of people said it depended on the circumstances. But, if you’re new to the world of work or are simply trying to do your best while also taking care of your mental wellbeing, it can be tough to decipher exactly what those circumstances are. So, let’s take a look at some of the key points you should consider.
Is your hard work being recognised and rewarded?
In a healthy working culture, hard work should always pay off. Of course, you should put your all into every project you’re given and always aim to impress, but you should also receive fair recognition for your efforts. If you’ve been giving your all in the same position for months or years but your boss has yet to raise the subject of a promotion or pay rise, it might be time to question whether it’s time to look for a new position, or ask for a one-to-one to ask why your efforts are being overlooked.
Is there a level playing field?
Going above and beyond at work shouldn’t mean having to be the first one in the office and the last one to leave. Within any organisation, everyone should be provided with other opportunities to prove themselves that aren’t dependent on who has the most free time to devote to work. Consider the fact that for a single man in his 20s, it’s far easier to stay behind after work to finish a project than it is for a new mom who needs to get home to her baby. Both may well have exactly the same work ethic and dedication to the job, but only one is able to put in the extra hours to prove it. If you’re in a workplace that seems to only place value on the amount of hours people work rather than the quality of what they produce and how much effort is being put into each task, that could be a red flag.
Are you able to set reasonable boundaries?
Following on from the last point, there’s nothing wrong with answering the odd email in your free time or staying at the office past 5pm when you’re engrossed in your work, but the decision should always be yours. Research indicates that maintaining a reasonable balance between your personal and professional life is the key not only to improved wellbeing, but to achieving a greater degree of professional satisfaction in the long-term. It’s reasonable for your workplace to expect you to sometimes complete urgent tasks out of hours – and in the name of going above and beyond, you may well volunteer to – but there should never be any repercussions for setting firm boundaries.
Are you listening to your intuition?
Most of us have a very keen sense of when we’re going the extra mile for our own satisfaction, or when we’re being taken advantage of. Going above and beyond should make you feel happy and motivated, and you should be able to maintain a sense of pride and satisfaction in your work. If you find yourself beginning to feel overwhelmed or start to wonder how you’ll cope with adding more to your workload, that’s a sign you may be taking on more than you can handle. Additionally, it’s worth remembering that someone who goes above and beyond can sometimes find themselves the target of others who don’t share the same work ethic. If you find that your colleagues are often asking for your help to complete tasks that fall within their area of responsibility, don’t be afraid to politely decline.
Does your work serve an additional purpose?
A realistic shot at promotion might be your motivation for going above and beyond. Perhaps you work in an industry you’re passionate about, and you’re keen to learn all you possibly can. Either way, your employer should not be the only one benefitting from your hard work. Ensure you have a realistic goal in mind, and that going the extra mile at work is helping you to achieve it. Be strategic, and ask yourself often whether you’re on the right track. That way, going above and beyond is doubly rewarding; not only do you know you’re helping your organisation to thrive, but you’re also investing in your own future.
Is it sustainable?
Sometimes, the reward for hard work is simply more work, which can quickly become unsustainable – not to mention demoralising. Even if you’ve started a new job and you’re absolutely determined to prove yourself as an overachiever, you should be mindful of your own limits - setting unrealistic expectations early on could cause unnecessary stress and pressure later down the line. It might sound counterintuitive, but putting your own wellbeing above your work commitments will actually be more beneficial for your career in the long run, as research demonstrates that people who are happy are 13% more productive!
Ultimately, going above and beyond the limits of your job description will help expand your professional horizons, empower you to take on new challenges, and help you to gain a reputation as a talented and tenacious team player. While going the extra mile is to be encouraged, though, it should never take precedence over your mental health and wellbeing, and the ability to set firm boundaries where required is paramount. However, as long as you’re paying close attention to your working environment and listening to your intuition, all your hard work is sure to be worth the effort!
Going above and beyond at work, but going unrewarded? You’re in the right place. We’ve hundreds of positions available in industries such as accountancy, human resources, marketing and digital, IT, and many more. Alternatively, you can search all our positions here, or register with us.