There is no doubt that work plays a major role in our lives. It is how we provide for ourselves and our families. Our job can be how we define ourselves, and it can also directly impact how others see us. We often measure our success in life based on how well we are doing professionally. Research into what the world loves and hates indicates that several countries, including the Czech Republic and Russia, consider their job to be what they value first and foremost. But when does love for work become an addiction?
In today’s digitally advanced world, technology can make it increasingly difficult to separate your work life and your private life. Laptops, smartphones, and tablets mean that work is always accessible, and it can easily eat into your personal time. It has become an unwritten rule that you should be available to work round the clock. But with such high expectations in place, when does being always available to work become work addiction?
Of course, many people class themselves as workaholics and wear the term as a badge of honour. They are the people that live to work, rather than work to live. They thrive on the thrill and adrenalin they get from their profession. Yet how do they manage to maintain a healthy work-life balance? With all things considered, there are both pros and cons to being a workaholic.
Advantages of Being a Workaholic
If you are a workaholic, you will likely have a higher output than your co-workers. In theory, more work means more pay, which can boost your bank balance and create greater financial stability in your life. Plus, you can buy that diamond ring your other half has always been hinting about.
As a workaholic, you can take a real sense of pride in your achievements. Your boss is likely to rate you more highly than other employees, and more often than not you will be the go-to person when a job needs to be done well.
What’s more, the feeling of self-gratification you get when you look back at a piece of work you have done can fill you with a sense of pride and achievement. This is difficult to achieve in your everyday life. A sense of achievement can actually be good for your health and can help reduce depression. It is no coincidence that a Gallup poll conducted in 2013 found that 5.6% of people in full-time work were depressed, while this figure rose to 19% for those that were unemployed.
Dedication to your job can boost your skill set. You will build your knowledge and experience, enabling you to solve most problems that can arise in your job.
Disadvantages of Being a Workaholic
On the flipside, working compulsively does not necessarily make you a productive worker. Many workaholics put in long hours, but they are not particularly effective. Furthermore, they can find it difficult to trust others to get a job done, and as such, have difficulty in delegating tasks. This tendency to be a control freak, in turn, leads to a heavier workload, and more hours on the job.
Stress is a major downfall of workaholism. The constant mental stress that comes from not being able to switch off from your job can have serious consequences for your health, both mental and physical. Severe stress can even shorten your lifespan. The fatal results of workaholism can be seen most clearly in Japan, where younger generations of Japanese are working themselves to death. The Japanese have even coined the term “karoshi,” which is used to describe this phenomenon of death as a result of overwork.
Being a workaholic can have a negative impact on your personal relationships. Having little time to rest and relax with your loved ones can alienate you from your nearest and dearest. Those who are addicted to their job often cancel social plans in favour of work. Furthermore, the constant pressure of work can be distracting and detract from the pleasure of spending much needed time with friends and family.
It is not just your personal relationships that can be affected either. There is a distinct possibility that you will irritate and alienate your colleagues. This can create a hostile work environment, in which you lose the respect of your co-workers.
Are You a Workaholic?
Do the cons of being a work addict outweigh the pros? How can you recognise if you are a workaholic yourself? How do you distinguish between being a hard worker and being addicted to your job? We have created a short quiz which can help you identify whether you are a work addict. Take a few minutes to answer the following 10 questions, and you will find out.
- Do you often work through lunch and other breaks?
- Do you check work emails on the weekend or during holidays?
- Are you usually the first person in the office and the last to leave?
- Do you go to work when you are ill?
- Are your hobbies related to your job?
- Do you find it difficult to relax and enjoy time off work?
- Do you regularly work more than your contracted hours?
- Do you have unused vacation days at the end of the year?
- Do you ever cancel social plans to catch up on work?
- Do you have trouble delegating work tasks?
If you answered yes to 5 or more of these questions, it is highly likely that you are a workaholic. You should consider the pros and cons. Is it wise to continue as you are, or is it time for a change? While workaholism is not officially recognised as an actual medical condition, it is arguably an addiction and should be treated as such. It is important to acknowledge when there is a problem, to tackle it.
Take a common-sense approach to excessive working hours and make a conscious effort to invest in your personal relationships. Ask yourself, is it really worth missing your child’s first Christmas concert? How about your wedding anniversary? And for what? Your company could fold tomorrow and then what you are left with? That being said, there is nothing wrong with taking pride in your work and in striving to be the best that you can be. Just be sure to strike the right balance between work and home life, to avoid burning out.