Workaholics can be loosely defined as persons addicted to work. Ordinarily, it is the expected that people should approach work positively, fully embracing their work. However, an upper threshold does exist for embracing work. What is over and above the threshold would constitute workaholism. A number of characteristics can suffice for purposes identifying workaholics.
For starters, workaholics have a poor family and social life. They usually spend minimal time with friends and relatives. Usually, their loved and close ones give up on them. Workaholics commit a lot of their time working. They extend their time at the work place and would most likely carry some work home. In addition, workaholics prefer working individually to team work. They are restless during team work and would always want to outshine and outman the larger team. They have a higher sense of individualism.
Another characteristic of workaholics relates to their approach to division of labour and delegation. A typical workaholic would hardly want to give some work to others. They find delegation of tasks remote and alien to their philosophy. They would rather heap lots of work load on themselves than delegate. In addition, workaholics take more work than they can ordinarily accommodate. They are impressed by the mere fact that they do more than required normal capacities. Unfortunately, they usually end up being heavily unproductive and inefficient.
Workaholics are usually oblivious of their inefficiencies and non-productivity. They relish on the thought of being useful and relied on at the workplace. Usually, they are on the ready to sacrifice more time into projects and pursue several alternatives. However, it is their inability to notice their inefficiency that comes out sharply. Most of them consider holidays, vacations as unnecessary luxuries and in extreme cases, would consider sleep as a waste of precious working time. Workaholics tend to selfish. They usually believe they are best placed to handle all the duties at their workplace. They seek attention in the job place always wanting recognition and praise from their peers and superiors.
Finally, workaholics are distinct for their health failings. They usually suffer from headaches, hangovers, fatigues and in extreme cases constant migraines. Unfortunately, they are never able to identify their misdoings. Instead of correcting the situation, they seem to worsen by increased input in terms of time spent working. Ultimately, they end up getting more and more inefficient.
Line between hard worker and workaholic
The line between hard work and workaholism is arguably thin. This arises because the journey towards workaholism passes through hard work. In other words, all workaholics were at one time hard workers. However, hard work is rational and can be evaluated in terms of the positive results it yields as opposed to workaholism that essentially had little to nothing in terms of positive benefits. Hard workers are result oriented. They focus their energies not necessarily in doing work, but in achieving work objectives. This approach is strategic and completely departs from the tactless approach workaholics pursue.
Hard workers also have good social lives. They have a proper and balanced control of their time. They give only what is sufficient in terms of working hours without prejudicing on other aspects. In that vein, despite the duties and obligations at the workplace, a hard worker will create time for his family and friends. He is sensitive to social obligations in the same strain as to work obligations.
Hard work does not necessarily negate the concepts of team work, division of labour and delegation. Hard workers are embracive of teamwork. They enjoy working in teams. Their motivation lies in the success of the organizational mission rather than individual achievement. They would certainly favour divisibility of labour and delegation. Although hard workers usually want the job to be perfect, they are not full of themselves and would be willing to allow others to work in their capacities. The moment a worker begins to show traits contrary to the mentioned ones, one needs to be wary of the arrival of workaholism.
Strong works ethics and other desirable traits’ adverse effects on a person
Ordinarily, it is the job ideals and work ethics that motivate and focus employees. Employees would behave in accordance with the required professional and organizational standards. However, excessively strict work ethics could prove counterproductive. Workers try too hard to impress. In such situations, organizations usually have set the benchmark or threshold so high. In any given set up, the success and productivity of workers depend on their free will and positive attitude. A work ethic that is unnecessarily strict robs the worker off his or her free will and positive attitude.
On the other hand, a worker must always be cautious against being overly conscious of ethical standards and other desirable traits. In some situations, successful implementation of policies or strategy calls for a less ethically conscious workforce. Over reliance on work ethics can destroy the psyche and free will of other workers effectively negating the success of the work process.
Mogler, Christian. Burnout - Causes and prevention. New York: GRIN Verlag, 2008.
Muller, Weiland and Andrew Schotter. "Workaholics and Dropouts in Organizations." Journal of European Economic Association (2010).
Plante, Thomas G. Abnormal Behavior in the 21st Century [Three Volumes]. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007.