1

I was hired by a research group which - as they stated during the interviews - wanted to invest in my field and strongly needed my expertise. However, I am being the only person in the group with preexisting experience on the topic. This is resulting in severely working overtime (at least 60 hours per week, but there are also peak of 14 hours per day). This the highest workload I have ever had (even heaviest that phd) and I am feeling like I am close to burnout, both physically and mentally.

I talked to my manager about this but they said they are not able to find people to help me due to funding reasons and because it’s difficult to find someone with the right profile to be put on the projects they assigned to me. They say I don’t have to work overtime and that I can delay deadlines. However, this would result in less papers, and still I would be the only person on the projects whereas our ‘‘competitors’’ from other labs, either American and European, have larger teams with postdocs and phd students. That’s not a really ambitious perspective.

Even if they told me that they wanted to grow in my field, I knew this could be a possibility in this institution. However, I received the offer in the middle of the pandemics, they where the fastest to made me an offer and with a short deadline for acceptance, so accepting looked the best option to me. My contract is temporary due to company policy, but they want to keep me (if they don’t offer me an extension, I would probably be the first one in the group that cannot keep the job). In other words, I am staff but renewed year by year until the law of the country permits it.

Soon after other offers came, but I had to turn them down as I had just started here. Some of the offers are still available. What they don’t know is the contractual details (fixed term contract and that they plan to keep me).

How do you think I should proceed? In particular, considering that I am definitely burning out, would it be acceptable to quit a fixed term contract for probably better conditions? By probably better I mean higher salary and (hopefully) lower workload. Also, should I disclose the perspective employers that I would be interrupting a fixed term contract? There is a high chance they would still come to know from my present managers, as my field is an extremely small world.

I am starting the second year and, in case of hiring, I would be able to give a notice of months (approximately from 2 to 6).

EDIT - PLEASE READ: What I am asking, in other words, is not choosing between (A) working normal hours and produce less than other group, and (B) working overtime, keep production up for a while but then produce less because I am burned out.

The real choice is between (A) working alone, either on regular time or overtime, and produce less than bigger teams and (B) quit and accept the offer from one of those bigger teams, where I could work normally and still have high impact in team.

7
  • "company policy" Is this academic research? Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 23:34
  • No, it is private research.
    – cayman
    Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 23:45
  • But I had any kind of experience: university, national labs, industry. This workplace (the industrial company) certainly have the highest workload (due to lack of a team). University was hard but not so hard as now. National labs have the perfect balance between work and private life.
    – cayman
    Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 0:28
  • If it's research outside academia, then Academia.SE is probably not a good place to get advice. You could try The Workplace instead. Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 1:18
  • Nate, we do gov funded research, we partner with universities, national lab and do the same kind research of our public counterparts, evaluated on publications, have students, and many others. Employees come in from academia/nat labs and go out to academia/nat labs.
    – cayman
    Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 6:15

1 Answer 1

3

They say I don’t have to work overtime and that I can delay deadlines. However, this would result in less papers.

Then don't work overtime. Most likely overtime is actually reducing your productivity.

would it be acceptable to quit a fixed term contract for probably better conditions?

Sure! However, in a new job you will still have a manager who says you do not have to work overtime. You will still have a choice between spending your time on papers and spending your time on other things. You might benefit more from changing the way you manage your time; that would save you the trouble of job applications and, most likely, moving.

8
  • I partially agree with the first part of your answer. Working overtime is harming my well being, not yet the quality and quantity of papers. But we will get there very soon. I don’t agree with the second. In a new workplace I don’t necessarily have to work alone (the title says: burning out due to lack of personnel), when other groups from other institutes work on similar projects with group of 4-5 people. Actually, I only worked without collaborators in my PhD, on a much limited project. Other than that I have always had collaborators in national labs.
    – cayman
    Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 0:13
  • I don’t get - with all due respect, ofc - what time management has to do with that: massive projects need more people on them. Assigning only one person would either result in working long hours or work too slowly as compared to other labs. Working slower than ‘competitors’ means less high impact papers because most likely they 4 people will produce more than one (either I works 40 or 60 hours per week).
    – cayman
    Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 0:13
  • In other words, choice is not between (A) working normal hours and produce less than other group, and (B) working overtime, keep production up for a while but then produce less because I am burned out.
    – cayman
    Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 0:16
  • In other words, choice is not between (A) working normal hours and produce less than other group, and (B) working overtime, keep production up for a while but then produce less because I am burned out. Choice is between (A) working alone, either on regular time or overtime, and produce less than bigger teams and (B) quit and accept the offer from one of those bigger teams, where I could work normally and still have high impact in team.
    – cayman
    Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 0:22
  • "work too slowly as compared to other labs." You seem to have the idea that the productivity of an individual should be judged by comparing the productivity of their team to the productivity of another team. That is wrong. Stop thinking about the productivity of other labs. Do good science instead. Commented Jun 26, 2022 at 1:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .