Views on workaholism vary widely, with some people seeing it as a disease, while others see it as a useful quality that helps you gain recognition at work. What is workaholism, is it true that a workaholic is an ideal employee, can it burn out, and how to prevent workaholism?
What Is Workaholism
A workaholic is a person who is dependent on their work. It’s difficult for them to switch from work to other activities, they get pleasure from the fact that they work overtime. It’s difficult or even impossible to overcome the urge to overwork on one’s own.
Workaholism is a form of non-chemical addiction. Like many addictions, workaholism is dangerous. Over time, the emotions of working hard become habitual. To feel pleasure again, you need to “increase the dose” — to work even harder than before.
If a man doesn’t feel pleasure from overwork, he isn’t a workaholic. For example, when an employee overworks only because of the fear of being fired and the feeling that he or she is not doing enough and everyone notices it, this is not workaholism.
Causes of Workaholism
People who are prone to addictive behaviors are prone to workaholism. Psychological traumas, disorders, and problems cause addiction. Often with the help of work, a person wards off their attention from things that bother them a lot.
The development of workaholism is often influenced by the environment. The fact is that working beyond the norm is a socially approved behavior, which is cultivated by the management style and corporate culture of many companies. No one condemns a workaholic for overwork. Gradually, people develop the belief that more effort is expected of them than was agreed upon when they were hired.
Signs of Workaholism
Work Crowds Out Other Areas of Life
If the areas of life are balanced, working beyond the norm is a manifestation of engagement and industriousness.
A workaholic is willing to limit or sacrifice other parts of their life for the sake of work.
It’s Difficult to Disconnect From Thoughts of Work
A workaholic is uncomfortable if they cannot focus on work. Part of their attention is continually drawn to it.
Let’s say a workaholic went to a bar to meet friends. It seems like it would be possible to relax and spend time in pleasant company, but not so. They keep thinking about work, keep their phones in their hands, and check work chats in their free time.
In general, the range of topics for discussion in a workaholic is reduced to what is related to the professional sphere. Other topics don’t evoke an emotional response and interfere with the usual focus on work, so they try to avoid them.
Only Work Brings Impressions
The most vivid emotions in the life of a workaholic are brought from work. It’s difficult for them to get pleasure somewhere else and to feel themselves in their place. They don’t feel satisfied even with rulett játék or while spending time with people they love.
Consequences of Workaholism
It’s commonly believed that workaholics work to the point of burnout. This isn’t true: the signs of professional burnout are a lack of pleasure from the occupation and unwillingness to continue it. Workaholics, on the other hand, enjoy their work and are ready to work harder.
The consequences of workaholism depend on life circumstances and inner state. A workaholic can:
- Live a life working hard and experience nothing but joy from it.
- Develop a neurosis due to constant dissatisfaction with the result and the desire to do more.
- Become the ultimate office toxic.
- Become angry at people who, in their opinion, don’t work hard enough.
- Regret that they missed important opportunities. For example, one could have spent more time studying, traveling, starting a family, or having an ara parrot.
Treatment for Workaholism
Treatment isn’t necessary if addiction to work doesn’t interfere with the workaholic themselves and doesn’t create problems for others. Otherwise, three steps should be taken.
Figure out exactly how workaholism manifests itself and recognize the problem. For example, an employee is anxious about working all day and life is passing them by. It’s the realization that workaholism is hurting them that can encourage them to get rid of the addiction.
It’s necessary to observe not only yourself but also those around you — whether the addiction does not create problems for them. Let’s say a manager writes to their subordinates at night and considers it a norm. They have always done so, and everything was fine. The boss may not even know that their colleagues tolerate such behavior until someone makes a complaint.
To understand the reasons for workaholism. Self-analysis and a specialized specialist help understand yourself.
Take small steps to ease the tension. What kind of steps they will take depends on the manifestations of workaholism of a particular person.
A good result is the prevention of workaholism — activities other than work that bring pleasure.
You can get rid of workaholism or diminish its manifestations, but the tendency to addictive behavior remains in a person forever. It’s important to keep this in mind in order not to slip from one addiction to another cat in the chrysalis spoiler.
For a workaholic in remission, it’s important to know the risk factors that can push the addiction again. These may include:
- Work-life blending. Today’s technology and working conditions make it possible to work and stay connected around the clock from anywhere in the world. This makes work seem to permeate one’s life. This reinforces the workaholic’s addiction.
- A new job and the desire to prove oneself at it.
- Life upheavals: layoffs, children, divorce, serious illness.
- Deterioration of relations in the family.
Features of a Workaholic as an Employee
A workaholic is not an ideal employee. The ideal employee is the one who qualitatively performs the work with professionalism and competence. Whether they will work 24/7 or strictly from 9:00 to 5:00 isn’t essential for business. Therefore, all other things being equal, there is no reason to prefer a workaholic to an ordinary candidate.
It’s difficult for a workaholic to join the team because of the limited sphere of interest. During the interview, ask the candidate about how they spend their free time, what they watch and read, and what they are fond of. The answers will show whether he or she is a good fit for the team.
A work-obsessed supervisor can lead the team to burnout. A workaholic boss instills a constant sense of inadequacy in ordinary employees. Their self-demanding attitude spills over to their colleagues.
Employees feel like they should have tried harder, worked longer, and gotten better results. But for ordinary people, work isn’t a dope; long-term stress, overstrain and anxiety make them burn out.
Conflicts in teams are possible. If the bulk of employees support work-life balance, a couple of workaholics won’t change the climate inside. Or vice versa: you have a team of people who are willing to work overtime. It’s fine for them, so it’s not a problem.
Difficulties begin in mixed teams when one half of the team lives for work and the other half forgets about it after 5 pm.
How to Help a Workaholic Employee
Help is required only when the workaholic makes the team suffer. There are a few steps that need to be taken for this to happen.
Analyze the signals of the problem and gather evidence base. Alarming symptoms can be negative feedback from employees or deterioration of HR metrics — satisfaction, engagement, loyalty, and turnover. For example, in exit interviews, several people said they were leaving because their manager was too demanding.
To assess the situation in a particular team, compare its HR metrics with those of the organization as a whole. Serious deviations from the average values are a reason for close scrutiny.
With the help of HR analytics, team surveys, and spot interviews, the HR manager gathers information. It’s important to make sure that the problem lies in the workaholism of a team member and not in something else, such as a conflict with individual employees.
Communicate the problem to the workaholic. Sometimes a person doesn’t realize their addiction and doesn’t understand that they are creating difficulties for their colleagues. Then it’s important to demonstrate the risks of such behavior with evidence-based evidence.
For example: “In the last six months, four valuable employees have quit your team. They said they couldn’t stand your pace of work: working meetings at 7 p.m. and chatting on work chats even at night. Overall, team satisfaction has dropped 18% in the last six months. If nothing is done about it, people will continue to leave, it will affect business results.”
It can be emphasized that a workaholic’s approach to work sets an unhealthy example for employees for whom they are role models. Recognizing your responsibility to your colleagues is sobering.
An HR person can offer help to a workaholic: organize a visit to a psychologist, and recommend coaching. It’s also worthwhile for the HR person to meet with the workaholic periodically to support them in the fight against addiction or to give advice.