30 Under 30 2024

Workaholics don't derive pleasure from their work, study says

To get a clearer idea of their motivations, a research team in Italy conducted a scientific study involving 139 full-time employees, the findings of which are published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology

Published: Nov 25, 2023 09:55:52 AM IST
Updated: Nov 24, 2023 05:11:04 PM IST

Workaholics don't derive pleasure from their work, study saysWorkaholics are unhappier than those who manage to take a step back from their work. Image: Shutterstock

It might seem like employees who spend a lot of time at work are passionate about their jobs. But, without realizing it, they can fall into addiction and become workaholics. This addiction, which is still insufficiently recognized, is often linked to negative emotions, according to a study that sheds light on the psychology of the workaholic.

While many studies have focused on workaholics, they have often come to contrasting conclusions. Some claim that workaholics are beset by highly negative emotions, ranging from stress to hostility, while others suggest that they take pleasure in their professional activity, despite their addiction.

To get a clearer idea of their motivations, a research team in Italy conducted a scientific study involving 139 full-time employees, the findings of which are published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. A psychological test was used to assess participants' degree of work addiction. Their mood and perception of their workload was then analyzed using the experience sampling method. Volunteers were asked to complete short questionnaires every 90 minutes from 9 am to 6 pm on three working days (Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

This protocol revealed that the most workaholic employees were more unhappy than those who were able to step back from their work. They consistently maintained a more negative mood throughout the day, with no significant variations attributed to the passage of time or fluctuations in workload. This can be explained by the fact that addiction often leads to emotional flattening, ie, an inability to feel emotions in situations which, by their very nature, should elicit them.

Also read: 6 strategies to combat workplace loneliness

The dangers of overworking

For professor Cristian Balducci, who conducted the study, these results contradict the conventional wisdom that workaholics enjoy working non-stop. "It does not appear to be true that people who are addicted to work derive more pleasure from their work activity; quite the opposite, the results seem to confirm that, as in other forms of behavioral and substance addiction, the initial euphoria gives way to a negative emotional state that pervades the person even while at work," the researcher says in a statement.

Professor Cristian Balducci and colleagues urge companies not to encourage their staff to work longer than they should. In addition to being counterproductive, this behavior can quickly get out of hand and have serious repercussions on physical and mental health (sleep disorders, headaches, hypertension, burnout, social isolation, etc.).

"Organizations must send clear signals to workers on this issue and avoid encouraging a climate where working outside working hours and at weekends is considered the norm. On the contrary, it is necessary to foster an environment that discourages excessive and dysfunctional investment in work, promoting disconnection policies, specific training activities and counselling interventions," professor Balducci concludes.

Post Your Comment
Required
Required, will not be published
All comments are moderated