Stereotypes are often unfair.
There’ve been lots of talk and studies about the challenges associated with Millennials in the workforce – that they’re self-absorbed, want to start at the top and that they lack a strong work ethic.
Often that’s true. But not always. It’s also true that Millennials have a common-sense approach to work-family balance.
Workaholics place too much emphasis on work – it interferes with their personal happiness, health and relationships.
So, here’s the conundrum: Workaholics are most-likely an organization’s most-productive employees. They’re the most-reliable at crunch time.
However, they’re also the most abused by obsessive managers. Workaholics aren’t given opportunities to re-charge their physical and emotional batteries.
Burnout is an occupational hazard. So are stress and psychosomatic illnesses or even heart attacks or strokes.
All of that’s in the findings of a study on workaholism by a University of Georgia (UGA) study, “All Work and No Play? A Meta-Analytic Examination of the Correlates and Outcomes of Workaholism.”
Workaholics aren’t given opportunities to re-charge their physical and emotional batteries.
“Similar to other types of addictions, workaholics may feel a fleeting high or a rush when they’re at work, but quickly become overwhelmed by feelings of guilt or anxiety,” said Malissa Clark, Ph.D., an assistant professor of industrial/organizational psychology at UGA and lead author on the study.
“Looking at the motivations behind working, workaholics seem pushed to work not because they love it but because they feel internal pressure to work,” she added. This internal compulsion is similar to having an addiction.”
Dr. Clark’s co-authors include Jesse S. Michel, Florida International University; Ludmila Zhdanova, Carleton University; Shuang Y. Pui, Safeway Inc.; and Boris B. Baltes, Wayne State University.
Paying the price
Dr. Clark admits workaholism leads to promotions and helps career advancement. But there is a heavy price to pay.
“Our results show that while unrelated to job performance, workaholism does influence other aspects like job stress, greater work-life conflict, decreased physical health and job burnout that indicate workers aren’t going to be productive,” she said.
“When you look more broadly at the outcomes that were overwhelmingly negative and compare those to other analyses of work engagement, which were overwhelmingly positive, we see that there are two very different constructs,” she said.
“One is feeling driven to work because of an internal compulsion, where there’s guilt if you’re not working – that’s workaholism,” she explained.
“The other feeling is wanting to work because you feel joy in work and that’s why you go to work every day, because you enjoy it,” she asserted. “And I say that is work engagement.”
Dr. Clark said workaholism is almost synonymous with perfectionism and type A personalities.
“We found that, for samples with a greater percentage of women, the relationship between age and workaholism was positive, meaning that older women were more likely to be workaholics than younger women,” the professor said.
“In samples that had more men, the relationship between age and workaholism is negative, meaning that older men were less likely to be workaholics than younger men.”
In conclusion, be a workaholic if you want. But you might pay a heavy price.
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“You can’t afford not to take a vacation.”