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Work addiction is a real thing--and it's not good for you

Workaholics experience worse health and greater work-life conflict


Joanna Rothkopf
November 3, 2014 10:03PM (UTC)

It has recently become trendy among the mega-rich to advocate for a work-life balance. These advocates claim that American culture is too focused on achievement, even at the cost of suffering relationships and personal fulfillment. Sure, we all agree, but the message might be better received if multi-millionaires weren't the ones peddling it.

But a new meta-analysis published in the Journal of Management confirms that a culture of hard work that in turn produces work addicts is actually physically and mentally harming its employees. Assistant professor of industrial and organizational psychology at University of Georgia and lead author Malissa Clark said, "My prior research has shown that  experience , both at work and at home. 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... Looking at the motivations behind working, workaholics seem pushed to work not because they love it but because they feel internal pressure to work. This internal compulsion is similar to having an addiction."

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Clark continued: "Our results show that when 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."

Wanting to do well in a job or make money is not what classifies an addiction. Rather, addicts are those who feel compelled to work and guilty if they take time off. It's not the quality of work that is being done that's important--it's the act of working itself.

Fortunately, the researchers found that millennials are, in general, placing more value in families and their personal lives. "As millenials enter the workforce and move into leadership positions," said Clark, "I am hopeful we will see more organizations touting a family-friendly culture rather than a workaholic culture."

h/t Science of Us


Joanna Rothkopf

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Burnout Health Work Addiction Workaholism

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