Are you a workaholic?

Research shows it may not be a bad thing

Topics: Employee Engagement, Workforce

February 14, 2012

A recent study by researchers in the Netherlands finds that the distinction between a workaholic and an "engaged workaholic" may have far-reaching physical and psychological effects.

For the study, Dutch researchers tested 1,246 workers to measure on-the-job engagement, workaholism, motivation, and burnout. The study also considered typical working hours per week.

The researchers identified three types of hard workers:

  • Social workaholics, who are motivated by social rewards or bad consequences;
  • Engaged workers, who are loyal and reasonably hard-working; and
  • So-called "engaged workaholics," who work extremely hard out of sheer enjoyment.

Overall, engaged workaholics displayed considerably lower levels of burnout, suggesting that enjoying work acts as a significant buffer against stress, according to the study.

Lead study author Wilmar Schaufeli and his team say the difference is that classic workaholics are "pushed" to do their work, while engaged workaholics are "pulled." Workaholics are driven to work by feelings of guilt and restlessness, a motivation Schaufeli notes is "totally different than when you work intensely because you like the job" (Doheny, Los Angeles Times, 2/13).

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