For the final task, the three remaining contestants had to stay up all night baking an unholy amount of cookies, pies, pastries, etc., then sell them in the store the next day. While watching all the yummy goodies may unleash my own inner dessert diva, it annoyed me that this crazy schedule was touted as necessary because sometimes, in the baking business, you have to be prepared to give it your all and make sacrifices. The whole time, I was thinking that if I'd been a contestant, I might have quit right then and there.
Of course, it was only one night and I'm sure that normally, bakery workers don't have to work those kinds of crazy hours. But even most of the regular workers were there all night long and for at least a couple of hours the next day.
This bothers me because not everyone can do such a thing (though I will admit, I thought it was a nice touch when a dad left for a few hours to attend his child's back-to-school night). I don't think people should have to prove their unwavering loyalty to an organization by punishing themselves. Granted, work sometimes means sacrifice, but how much are employers going to demand before employees throw in the towel and say, "I've had enough"?
The idea of self-sacrifice for the common good, especially in the workplace, is a romantic one in our culture. It's cool to brag about how many hours we worked or how worn out we are or how or boss's demands are causing us to lose sleep. It's as if we have to one-up each other to prove how dedicated we are.
But if you have an illness, maybe you can't work all night long. If your doctor tells you to cut back on your hours because stress is making you sick, you can't keep giving more, more, more. If your work has become your life, something's wrong.
If we're willing to sacrifice our bodies, our health, our family time, our sleep, our leisure, isn't something wrong? Not to say that this is all caused by a workaholic culture. Some of it is caused by employers' expectations, too.
As much as we laud balance, the worker-slave mentality still persists. Bosses often tend to think the most dedicated worker is the one who's there the longest. But increasingly, employees are less willing to put up with this mindset, and take their talents somewhere their workplaces allow them to have lives. The ones who are still willing to stay and put themselves through misery are not always the best and brightest--just the most desperate.
You can still be productive without working yourself into the ground. In fact, studies indicate that longer work hours have a detrimental effect on productivity. Let's face it--if you're tired and stressed, your work will suffer. Even (or especially) if you work all night long.