High Performing Workers Get 5 ‘Punishments’ At Work That Slackers Don’t Experience

Not everything has to be a competition, but toxic employers seem to believe it should be.

High performing employee working at night. TZIDO SUN / Shutterstock.com

Many high performers in the workplace have struggled with perfectionism, people-pleasing, and academic gratification their entire lives — it’s not something that develops overnight. Of course, in some cases, the intense motivation it provides in the workplace can be helpful for productivity, but many times, it leads to detrimental “rewards.”

As career coach Greg Langstaff admitted on TikTok, echoing a Forbes article about “performance punishment,” trying too hard isn’t always a good thing, especially if you work in a toxic workplace.

@greglangstaff To be clear, trying hard at work is usually a good thing if you work with good people. Use this as more of a test to see if you’re in a toxic workplace… and if so… get out of there! #resume #career #jobsearch #learnontiktok #greenscreen ♬ original sound - Greg L. - Career Coach 🤓

“If you’re surrounded by the right people, being a high performer is great for your career,” he explained. “So, if you’re a high performer and you're not being treated like the superstar you are … get yourself out of there [and go] somewhere they're gonna treat you with the respect you deserve.”


RELATED: The Best Workers Are Now Experiencing ‘Performance Punishment’ — And It’s Burning Them Out

Here are the 5 ‘punishments’ high-performing workers experience compared to peers who ‘slack off’:

1. They’re ‘rewarded’ with more work without extra pay

In a toxic workplace, many co-workers are not only under-compensated but underappreciated for their work. Instead of rewarding high performers with raises, bonuses, or time off — the kind of benefits people truly yearn for — they instead hand them more work and harder tasks.

“According to Forbes, high performers in the workplace are facing a number of disadvantages that their lower-performing colleagues are not having to deal with,” Langstaff said. “This includes being assigned extra work without extra pay.”

Despite being responsible for extra work, as a result of their proven competency and efficiency, these high performers often don’t reap the benefits of their productivity, which means stagnant wages or an improper job title based on their daily workload.


2. They’re responsible for more difficult or time-consuming tasks

Not only are high performers more likely to have larger workloads after demonstrating their capabilities, but they also tend to receive more difficult tasks from leadership. If you could do administrative work, you could do this presentation, right? And manage this difficult team? And follow-up on that troublesome client?

It’s almost as if they’re passing off the kind of difficult work they’d prefer to not do, or at least prefer not to monitor with a less experienced co-worker, in order to clear their plates. While it’s a kind acknowledgment to be trusted at work, it only adds to the work stress and overwhelms many high achievers already struggling.

RELATED: After Being Denied A Raise For Two Years, Top-Performing Employee Tells Boss That Because His Pay Is 'Below Average' His Work Will Be Too


3. They accidentally make ‘enemies’ out of jealous peers

It’s human nature to harbor jealousy in certain situations, especially in a hostile environment like a toxic workplace where heightened emotions run rampant. This kind of growing resentment, especially from insecure or jealous peers, can lead to a great deal of active and passive conflict at work, making it hard for everyone to get out of bed in the morning.

@conflictish There is a paradox many high performers experience – those who elevate productivity individually can pose challenges in collaboration. It’s crucial for them to strike a balance, mastering the art of standing out while seamlessly fitting into the team dynamics. In the pursuit of excellence, high performers need to recognize that collaboration is the backbone of sustained success. #conflict #conflictmanagement #confictresolution #conflictcoaching #HighPerformance #highperformancehabits#ProductivityParadox #ExcellenceTogether #Teamwork ♬ original sound - Ryan Dunlap

It’s not just conflict and toxicity that arise from other colleagues; it can originate from the high performers themselves. “Along with the positives, may come some rigid and highly demanding personalities, big egos, high drama, and workplace division,” career coach Ryan Dunlap admitted on TikTok. “High performers can be hard to lead if they develop a sense of entitlement.”

Of course, if they aren’t being properly compensated, appreciated, or acknowledged, resentment inevitably grows in their workplace relationships. As resentment grows, attitudes shift, and conflict brews. To combat these kinds of strenuous relationships, it’s essential that bosses lean into their active leadership and ensure all their employees' needs are met.


4. They face retribution from fearful bosses

As high-achievers continue to give more and more of themselves to their jobs — meeting and exceeding expectations — it’s not just their colleagues and peers that grow jealous of their work ethics, but their bosses too. 

“They might even be facing retribution from bosses who are afraid they’re going to come for their jobs,” he added. “Of course, in many extreme situations, these higher performers just face higher expectations.”

Especially in today’s modern corporate world, there’s a sense of individual competitiveness in the workplace — whether it be fighting for raises, leadership, or purely for a confidence boost. As toxic leadership strives for control, recognition, and superiority, any kind of success below them isn’t seen as reflective of their “good work” but rather a threat to their power.

Boss scolding high performing employee YURII MASLAK / Shutterstock


5. High performers have higher expectations, often leading to burnout

While high-achievers are more likely to experience burnout and have the highest percentage of work-related stressors, their struggles also tend to fly under the radar. They’re less likely to ask for help, talk with their bosses, and take a step back from work to rest, only exacerbating their dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and struggling health.

Even on their “off days,” they’re held to a higher standard than their lower-achieving colleagues, promoting a cycle of stress and recognition that burns out high achievers. In a healthy workplace, even these high achievers would be granted space to rest comfortably without fear of losing their status, compensation, or acknowledgments.

In fact, healthy workplaces and bosses are adamant about making rest, fair compensation, and mental health advocacy unstigmatized topics for their colleagues to discuss. They’re not afraid to meet their employees where they are — ensuring everyone is cared for, fairly compensated, and motivated to do their best work without overwhelming stress, burnout, or resentment.


RELATED: 12 Rare Traits Only Found In High Performers At Work

Zayda Slabbekoorn is a News & Entertainment Writer at YourTango who focuses on health & wellness, social policy, and human interest stories.