Most people are familiar with the term workaholic. What exactly is a workaholic, though? More importantly, is workaholism something people should strive for or try to avoid?
Regarding a definition of workaholism, the first and best definition of workaholism proposed by researchers identifies three types of workaholics: workaholics, work enthusiasts, and enthusiastic workaholics. Workaholics are very involved and strongly driven but do not enjoy their work very much. Work enthusiasts are very involved and enjoy their work very much but lack drive. Enthusiastic workaholics are very involved, strongly driven, and really enjoy their work.
Unfortunately, very little research has been done to find out the extent to which workaholism involves stress and other problems. Despite the lack of evidence, researchers have strong opinions on the subject. Some argue that workaholism is beneficial for the individual and the organization. Others argue that workaholism is damaging to the individual and the organization, likening it to other addictions, such as alcoholism. A researcher at York University in Canada recently reported the findings from a study aimed at clarifying this issue.
What was the research about?
The study examined the association between the different types of workaholism and well-being. Five hundred and thirty people responded to a set of questionnaires sent by mail. The participants had MBA degrees from a Canadian university and were employed full-time. Responses on the questionnaires were used to determine workaholism types and well-being.
The results demonstrated that different types of workaholism were related to well-being in different ways, which may help explain some of the inconsistencies in the other research. Compared to work enthusiasts and enthusiastic workaholics, workaholics tended to suffer more from negative bodily symptoms (e.g., headache), to engage less in healthy behaviors (e.g., exercise), and to be worse off emotionally.
Why should it matter to me?
People who have a great deal of involvement in their work may want to figure out what type workaholism they have, if any. People who fall into the workaholic category may find their job less stressful and feel better overall if they find a way to make their job more enjoyable and possibly also find a way to avoid being excessively driven to work.Source: Burke, R. J. (2000). Workaholism in organizations: Psychological and physical well-being consequences. Stress Medicine, 16, 11-16.