Research finds greatest impact of a Workaholic is on their family.
A workaholic is defined as a person who compulsively works excessively hard and long hours, and new research has found that it is people around the workaholic – family members and colleagues – who suffer more detrimental effects of workaholism than the workaholic themselves.
In her research, Dr. Melrona Kirrane of Dublin City University, explored the effects on family life and uncovered how workaholics justified their absences by claiming that the financial and material gains more than compensated for not being there.
“My research on workaholism has explored why people are workaholics and the consequences of such patterns of work behavior. We found that a number of factors contribute to the development of workaholism which include family background, work ethic within the family, educational experiences and professional norms. In some companies there is a ‘long hours’ work culture that is often driven by the nationality of the company which encourage excessive work patterns.”
The research found that:
- Intensive working has negative repercussions for psychological and physical health.
- Although intensive workers reported some regret about the impact to family life, these were usually framed around specific missed experiences rather than more enduring effects on relationships, suggesting that intensive workers do not always recognise or acknowledge the negative long-term relationship effects suggested by some research.
- Intensive workers sought to justify or minimise the familial costs by suggesting their families were accustomed to their absence and that the financial gain made up for it.
Are the long hours worth it?
Despite the negative effects on family and coworkers, the research found that for the workaholic themselves, the personal enjoyment, stimulation, and satisfaction they derived from their work was worth the consequences. This was backed up by co-workers, who despite claiming that the workaholic was more difficult to work with, as they were less inclined to be collaborative than other colleagues, overall the intensive workers were viewed as ‘inspirational colleagues’.
According to Dr. Kirrane, “As to the consequences of workaholism, we found that a lot of workaholics, although their family lives often suffered, derived great satisfaction from their accomplishments at work which in turn reinforced their excessive work behaviours. Generally speaking, it is people around the workaholic – family members and colleagues – who suffer more detrimental effects of workaholism than the workaholic themselves.”