Show/hide main menu


News Highlights

Conscientious workers face exhaustion

Posted on 26/01/2017
exhaustion 2

Going above and beyond the call of duty comes at a cost to personal well-being and family responsibilities, despite the link between being conscientious at work and career success according to new research from King’s and the University of Bath.

By studying employees in a UK customer call centre for a retail bank, the team led by Professor Stephen Deery from the School of Management and Business at King’s found that going the extra mile at work left employees emotionally exhausted and grappling with work-family conflict.

The side effects of conscientiousness were more striking where employees were already doing well at work. These employees were faced with sustaining high performance alongside the extra tasks and responsibilities that their managers were more likely to delegate to them because of their hard-working and dependable nature.

Professor Stephen Deery, who led the research, said: ‘At the moment individuals are faced with balancing the benefits of a better appraisal against the cost to health and family time. Companies that are designing people management policies need to ensure that the short term gains made by encouraging employees to go the extra mile are not outweighed in the longer term by the personal costs of this behaviour.’

Employees in the study reported that they felt emotionally drained and ‘used up’ because of their work and were struggling with balancing family life alongside work.

Increasing competitive pressures are pushing employers, particularly in customer service environments, to look for ways to improve organisational performance and this typically involves urging employees to be ‘good citizens’ by going the extra mile.

As well as improving the performance of the team and organisation it puts employees in good stead with managers for decisions on performance ratings, promotion, training and pay. Little has been known about the effect of this perceived ‘win-win’ on personal and family life.

The researchers studied a number of types of behaviour that could impact on employee well-being including helping colleagues at work and striving to avoid work conflict, but conscientiousness was seen to be more time-consuming and therefore have a greater impact.

The study, entitled The costs of exhibiting organizational citizenship behaviour, was published in Human Resource Management.

Dr Bruce Rayton, from the University of Bath’s School of Management, said: ‘Conscientious workers typically don’t want to let down their employers or customers down. They throw themselves into their job, consistently making an extra effort, to the extent that when they get home at the end of the day they feel physically and emotionally exhausted. Essentially they’re experiencing a type of burnout, and that’s damaging to health and well-being, and family life.’

The researchers studied a final sample of 79 employees through surveys completed by call centre supervisors and customer service agents.


For further media information please contact the Public Relations Department at King’s College London on 0207 848 3202 or

For further information about King’s, please visit King’s in brief web pages.

Rss Feed Atom Feed

News Highlights:

News Highlights...RSS FeedAtom Feed

Brexit Expert wins Impact Award

Brexit Expert wins Impact Award

Professor Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs and Director of UK in a Changing Europe received the title of Impact Champion at the 2017 Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Celebrating Impact awards last night.
King's partners with MPS and LGC to set new approach to forensics

King's partners with MPS and LGC to set new approach to forensics

King's College London has today announced a new partnership with LGC to deliver services to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), which will help deliver real solutions to forensic challenges faced by investigators.
King's receives Silver Award in TEF

King's receives Silver Award in TEF

King's receives Silver Award in Teaching Excellence Framework.

Share this story:


Follow Us


Live Twitter feed...

Join the conversation
Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions Privacy policy Accessibility Modern slavery statement Contact us

© 2017 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454