Why Dedication Shouldn’t Result in Workaholics

Every manager wants dedicated employees – people who always say “yes,” take work home with them, and eat lunch right at their desk.

But dedication to work is a slippery slope. In a society that lionizes hard work – and (thanks to technology) makes a 24/7 work day possible – it’s easy for employees to quickly devolve from hard-working high-performers to workaholics.

And that’s not good for ANYBODY. Here are three reasons why:

All work and no play makes Jack (and Jill)…

Sleep deprived. Cranky. And increasingly difficult to work with. Working long hours can temporarily boost production, but sustained overwork creates excessive stress, manifesting as:

  • Anxiousness, irritability and/or depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Apathy toward work
  • Social withdrawal
  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach problems and difficulty sleeping

Workaholism creates a negative ripple effect.

The cumulative effects of work addiction cascade into other areas of employees’ home and work lives:

  • When priorities outside of work go unattended, employees feel conflicted and distracted (instead of focusing on their job).
  • Lack of work/life balance prevents individuals from pursuing activities outside work that bring them joy. Over time, life experiences (e.g., spending time with family, exercising, vacationing, attending recreational events, etc.), not money, are what make people feel truly fulfilled. Without meaningful life experiences, employees’ overall mental health and well-being suffer.
  • Relationships inside and outside work suffer. Research done by the University of North Carolina found that, on average, couples in which one partner is a workaholic divorce at nearly twice the average rate.

Workaholics are bad for business.

Employees who consistently log 60, 70 or 80 hours per week may seem like a productivity boon on the surface, but research proves otherwise.

  • Research cited by Harvard Business Review article shows that chronic overwork contributes to rising health insurance costs.
  • According to the National Institutes of Health, prolonged sleep deprivation has an effect similar to consuming alcohol – negatively impacting reaction time and higher-level cognitive functioning.
  • Employees who don’t take their vacation time were found to be less productive and score lower on performance reviews, according to one study.

Are your employees headed down a slippery slope?

Stop dedication from resulting in workaholism by:

  • Creating formal policies that prevent overwork.
  • Teaching employees to recognize the symptoms of workaholism in themselves.
  • Supporting your team when they need it most. When things get busy, bring in contingent workers from PrideStaff to provide temporary support. Doing so can greatly reduce employee burnout, allowing your core staff to stay focused, productive and motivated.