With smartphones, laptops and apps keeping us all constantly connected, it’s no wonder why the UK is turning into a workaholic nation.
The head of research, policy and standards at The Institute of Leadership & Management, Kate Cooper said:
“Thanks to modern technology we’re all more connected to our places of work than ever before.
This means work-life boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred and we’ve become an ‘always present’ generation of workers.“
“Checking into work while on leave has become increasingly common.
Some people may find the stress of being disconnected from work while they’re on holiday is actually more stressful than keeping an eye on what’s going on – if only to rest easy that everything’s okay back at base.
But we still know people need holidays, so they can return refreshed and invigorated.”
The question is, are you one of them?
Here is a complete guide on how to recognise the signs of a workaholic, the impact it’s having on your wellbeing and proactive ways to regain a healthy work-life balance.
The effects of being a workaholic
According to research, 65% of business leaders and 54% of other employees admit to checking their work emails on holiday. Shockingly, 6% have even admitted to doing it at a funeral!
Work addiction, presenteeism or being a workaholic is a real epidemic. It may feel like a positive thing, but it can actually have a negative impact on the business and your wellbeing.
For instance, being present at work outside of hours, otherwise known as presenteeism, has drastically increased over the past 10 years from 26% in 2010 to 86% in 2017.
The issue with presenteeism is that you can be at work for longer, but you’re not necessarily being productive. In order to do your best work, you need to be 100% focused and present.
Doing too many hours can lead to burnout, unhappiness and mental health issues, which impacts both yourself and the company in the long-run.
One of the biggest reasons for being a workaholic is meetings. Around 60% of employees claimed that meetings are usually at fault, as they impact productivity and force employees to work longer hours in order for them to hit deadlines.
Am I a workaholic?
There are a number of signs you should look out for on a daily basis.
According to the Bergen Work Addiction Scale, if you answer ‘often’ or ‘always’ to at least four of the following seven statements, you’re probably a workaholic:
- You think of how you can free up more time to work.
- You spend much more time working than initially intended.
- You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness, and depression.
- You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
- You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
- You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work.
- You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
How to regain the perfect work-life balance
If you’ve looked at the Bergen Work Addiction Scale and think you might be a workaholic, don’t fear!
The first step to regaining the ideal work-life balance is to try and understand the difference between working hard and being a workaholic.
The latter isn’t healthy and can make you unwell, leave you feeling guilty and getting more stressed.
Your best way of tackling the mindset is to:
- Trust your colleagues – if you want the business you work for to succeed, you have to appreciate that there are others who are capable of assisting you with the objective. Be open to delegate tasks and leave the important ones for yourself.
- Have a digital detox – it might seem crazy, but either logging off your work email or putting your phone out of reach in the evenings and weekends can work wonders. Your time outside of work hours should be used to socialise, see family, do exercise and ultimately, enjoy!
- Minimise distractions – as I highlighted earlier, meetings are a real pain in the backside at times. Ask your manager if you can keep them short or can just dip in when you’re needed. Remote working is another good way of reducing distractions, as you won’t have anyone around you.
- Think 40 – keep telling yourself that you’re working a 40-hour week – nothing less, nothing more. Your aim is to focus on quality over quantity.
- Start off on the right foot – before you start work, getting some exercise in, planning your day in your head or meditating can really help you sharpen up your senses and focus the mind. This might then make it easier for you to work quickly and stick within the 40-hour bracket.
Don’t do it alone
The main thing to remember is if you believe you’re turning into a workaholic, tell someone.
Whether it’s your manager or colleagues, getting the support from those around you will make things a lot simpler to rectify.
After all, it’s better to nip it in the bud now, then result in you eventually hating your job!
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