Scott Hollifield: New research says hard work is for suckers

Congratulations slackers, underachievers and goof-offs – you win.

A new study by researchers at the University of London suggests that trying too hard at work has negative consequences, such as a reduction in overall wellbeing and being made fun of in the break room for puckering up every time the boss man drags his ample bask side into a meeting. That last part is speculation on my part, but the study did find an overall reduction in wellbeing and a decline in career-related outcomes for hard workers.

“We were somewhat surprised to find that work effort, whether overtime or work intensity, did not predict any positive outcomes for employees,” the authors of the study told the website INSIDER in a joint email, which I assume is an email sent by all of them and not an email sent after they toked up in the employees’ parking lot at lunch.

The study could lead to more workplace scenarios like this:

“Thanks for coming in, Steve. As you know this is your yearly evaluation here at Acme Consolidated Products, a chance for you and I to discuss your performance over the last 12 months and set new goals for the forthcoming year that will be beneficial to both you and the company, and perhaps talk about who might fill that assistant supervisor’s spot in Sector G.”

“Thank you, sir. First and foremost, I would like to note the extra effort I put in on the Simmons project, oftentimes working nights and weekends, and, unfortunately missing the birth of my daughter to meet the July 9 deadline, but I was happy to do it for Acme Consolidated because, well, sir, this company is more like family to me than my own family.”

“I see. Steve, may I be candid with you?”

“Yes, sir. If my performance on the Simmons project was inadequate in any way, I would welcome constructive criticism so that I may be of greater value to Acme and its customers.”

“Lighten the @$&! up.”

“Excuse me, sir?”

“You’re making us all look bad. Dial it down a notch or two.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

“You aren’t an 8-year-old kid in a sweatshop getting paid by the sneaker, Steve. Quit working so hard. I don’t have time to review all of your overtime and weekend efforts. I’ve got a golf game to work on, for crying out loud. That hook isn’t going to fix itself.”

“It’s just that I’ve always heard hard work pays off –“

“Ha! What a load of horse%$$! Which reminds me, I need you to drive my kid to her horseback riding lessons this afternoon when we’re done. But, back to your review. You just need to slow down a little, son. Look at Roger in the cubicle next to yours, for example. He clocks in each morning, immediately heads to the restroom for 30 minutes, comes back to his desk, fires up his computer and checks his Facebook page, goes out for a smoke break, comes back and then looks for Camaro accessories on e-Bay. After lunch, he may file a report, he may not. That, my good man, is an Acme executive in the making.”

“But, I’ve dedicated so much to this company through personal sacrifice and hard work. It doesn’t seem fair.”

“Fair? Fair has nothing to do with it. It’s who runs the office football pool, who willingly accepts the blame when I screw up and, as of right now, who gets my daughter to the stables for horseback riding lessons before 3 p.m. Got it, Steve?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Oh, and when you get back, help Roger move his belongings into the assistant supervisor’s office in Sector G. That young man is going places.”

Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, NC and a humor columnist. Contact him at

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily newsletter.