Are Workaholics a Dying Breed?

Are Workaholics a Dying Breed?

Another month, another national day, and July has its fair few including National Workaholics Day on 5th July and Friendship Day on 30th July – when hopefully even the workaholics amongst us will be enjoying a restful Sunday with friends. 

There have been lots of studies around the effects of being addicted to work; on individuals, their families and their work places. Evidence suggests that workaholics get sick more often and are less productive, they may also die younger.  

The question that we pose is pertinent on two levels: workaholics may in fact die younger than expected, but the main question we are asking is: after the pandemic and the adjustment of working practices, are the chances of becoming a workaholic reducing?  

Is the term workaholic even relevant anymore? In September we reported on quiet quitting and with the events of recent years and the reports of the rising trend in flexible working and the great resignation is it time to put this label to bed? 

This national day is an opportunity to highlight what a good work life balance is as well as looking at working practices in your organisations.  

There is now much more awareness around wellbeing at work and a vast majority of our clients are actively looking at their workplace practices to ensure that they are looking after their employees. Many now use employer surveys and are attuned to the work life balance debate that is becoming louder.  

Four day working weeks are becoming more common and dealing with flexible working requests are now a regular part of HR departments tasks and practices.  There is such high demand that the government has made the right to request flexible working a ‘day one’ right for all employees which we covered in an autumn blog.

It is important to distinguish between working hard, over work and a slide into becoming a workaholic. There is a difference between putting in the hours and work when you need to and having an out-of-control urge to work. 

Being a workaholic used to be seen as a badge of honour, but it is a debilitating condition that is hard to break the cycle of. Part of that is that the nature of being a workaholic isolates you quickly from family and friends and support networks.   

As with any addiction, the first step is acknowledging it and then seeking help and support. The Bergen addiction scale may help with this. As employers, it is important to recognise that being a workaholic is an addiction and provide support as we would for any other addiction or mental health condition. 

Are you a workaholic?

Our quick guide to The Bergen Scale

Look at these 7 criteria and score yourself 1 – 5 (1 being never and 5 being always)

If you score “often” (4) or “always” (5) on at least 4 of the 7 criteria you may be a workaholic:

  • You think of how you can free up more time to work
  • You spend 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

We would like workaholics to be a dying breed and to be able to retire the label for the right reasons: that organisations recognise individuals’ limitations and acknowledge when hard work becomes overwork. 

So perhaps we can use Workaholics Day to reflect on our own working practices and the culture in our organisations.  

For further advice and guidance please contact us.