man in shirt at desk with head in hands, facing a laptop and bright office lamp, indicating that work is causing his stress.
Image: Arts Illustrated Studios/Shutterstock

Are you a workaholic? Here’s how to tell if you’ve taken it too far

7 Sep 2018

Will the future of work prevent workaholism or exacerbate it? How do you know when your hardworking nature has tipped into addiction?

How do you know when you’ve become a workaholic? At what point does being industrious and committed morph into unhealthy and even dangerous behaviour?

We’ve been talking a lot about the future of work here in the Careers section as part of Future of Work Week. Workaholism is definitely not a new trend, but the rise of technology could exacerbate the problem. Better communication technology means that it is possible to check in with work emails or talk to your boss at any time, in any place. As a result, some employers expect their employees to be ‘always on’, or the employees themselves take on that kind of pressure.

As we’ve also reported before in the Careers section, many employers will leverage cushy workplace perks to discourage employees having work-life balance and to drive productivity. It is the dark underbelly of seemingly positive efforts to improve the working conditions of employees, and is something that can feature heavily in the most allegedly ‘forward-thinking’ workplaces.

So, will the future of work make things worse? Not necessarily, as there are also some extremely positive trends being shepherded in by the future of work.

Increasing numbers of HR leaders (and enterprise leaders in general) are seeing the benefit of having happy, healthy employees. Employees with a good work-life balance and good health are more productive.

As such, more employers are willing to allow for remote working and flexible schedules. These efforts help employees fit their work around their complex lives and the complex demands therein. As well as this, employers encouraging employees to better strike the balance could help to stamp out workaholism before it starts, drawing attention to the problems that inspire workaholism before they get out of hand.

As we wait for this better future to arrive, we still need to face the problem of workaholism head-on.

Workaholism is informed by the same pathology that undercuts all addiction. Often, it’s really not about the work at all. The work has morphed into an externalisation of some internal strife. Yet the symptoms will still reveal themselves through your work and how you behave in a professional context. Do you know what the signs are, and how to spot them?

The Business Backer has made this excellent infographic detailing some of the symptoms of addiction to work. Once you establish how healthy (or unhealthy) your work habits are, there are practical tips on how to strike a better work-life balance.

For some great advice on spotting and quashing workaholic tendencies, check out the infographic below.

workaholic infographic

Infographic: The Business Backer

Eva Short
By Eva Short

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic, specialising in the areas of tech, data privacy, business, cybersecurity, AI, automation and future of work, among others.

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