In poor economic times, when the alternative is no job at all, many employed workers stop taking advantage of work benefits that were formally used as incentives, such as flex time, paid sick leave, and telecommuting policies. But what effect will this have in the long term?


Back when things were fairly normal in the work world (before unemployment rates hovered around the two-digit mark), employees were often incented by benefits such as flex time, paid sick leave, and telecommuting opportunities.

But a piece in The Washington Post this week says that, even though those benefits still exist, employees are pulling back from using them because they want to appear more indispensible to employers. They call this syndrome “silent fright”: Work as many hours as you can. Don’t ever complain. Don’t ask for anything.

According to The Washington Post article, HR consultants say that employers are doing little to dissuade this attitude, reasoning that negative incentives like fear of unemployment work as well as the positive ones.

It would be interesting to be able to measure in terms of dollars what effect the resulting employee burnout has on the bottom line. It stands to reason that employees with a constantly fearful outlook would be less likely to think creatively or take chances that would benefit the company. Also, long and uninterrrupted work hours could result in more mistakes made by employees.