Do you struggle with work-life balance because you’re a workaholic?
According to this Harvard Business Review article, How Being a Workaholic Differs from Working Long Hours–And Why That Matters for Your Health, workaholics find it difficult to psychologically detach from work. Stress levels are therefore often chronic, which leads to ongoing wear and tear on the body.
And we all know how easy it is to equate busyness with productivity and importance, when that’s often not the case. Workaholics may be productive at first but, as they inevitably burn out, that productivity diminishes, their relationships suffer and their health is threatened.
Researchers found that workaholics, whether or not they worked long hours, reported more health complaints (headaches, stomach aches, anxiety), a higher need for recovery, more sleep problems, more cynicism, more emotional exhaustion, and more depressive feelings than employees who merely worked long hours but did not have workaholic tendencies.
How do you know if you or members of your team are workaholics?
Norwegian researchers from the Department of Psychosocial Science at the University of Bergen created a work-addiction scale. For these seven criteria, rank each as either (1) Never, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often or (5) Always:
- You think of how you can free up more time to work.
- You spend much more time working than initially intended.
- You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression.
- You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
- You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
- You deprioritise hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work.
- You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
According to these researchers, scoring Often or Always on at least four of these criteria could mean you are a workaholic.
If you manage workaholics, you can help by discussing their personal as well as their professional growth. Provide them with ample resources to do their work, such as autonomy, feedback, and support, and help them develop stronger communication and time management skills. If you tend to praise those who are workaholics, consider shifting that attention to those who excel while maintaining a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.
By acknowledging that this compulsive work mentality is a problem and finding ways to “switch off”–like scheduling enjoyable non-work activities into your week and managing technology–you can begin to regain control of your behavior and your life.