Companies often seek out employees who are enthusiastic and prepared to put in overtime. In some cases, though, firms take advantage of overworked, stressed, and miserable workers, who may underestimate their self-worth and skills. Dubbed “insecure high-achievers,” these employees often fear being “let go” if they don’t push themselves to the limit.
“Insecure high-achiever doesn’t sound like a positive trait employers would include in their job spec — but surprisingly often in professional services like consultancy, banking, and law, it is a personality state that is highly-valued and sought-after,” according to Evelyn Cotter, founder of SEVEN Career Coaching.
Cotter said that being an insecure high-achiever isn’t a personality type, but rather a state of self-worth. Insecure high-achievers never feel like they are “enough,” so they will work longer, give more, and compromise themselves as much as their role and firm requires. “They will not put their families or loved ones first, if they have any left after years of leaving people down, showing up late, or just ghosting plans because they’re too busy to notice,” she said. “They are married to the job and profit obsessed firms value this over having healthy, rounded human beings as employees who know that balance is necessary to be healthy and happy.
“They will put the company’s and client’s needs first every time. They are the friend who just disappeared after university for 10 years, because they were working 90-hour weeks, never took holiday, and when they did take time off, were probably so burnt out, they could but only recover.
“They’re the work addicts, the serious workaholics, who’s lack of self-worth finds it’s home in a ‘doing’ mode where they feel needed, wanted, loved, and valued, but at a huge cost. It’s a type of exploitation that is rampant in the corporate world.”
There is a high cost to being both a high-achiever and insecure, for both employees and companies. Working long hours, taking on too much work, and putting enormous pressure on yourself can lead to burnout, according to a recent Gallup poll, which found that two out of three employees experience chronic stress....