Research suggests there’s a critical distinction between overworking because you love your job, and doing so because things got out of control. Which group do you fall into?
BY TOMAS CHAMORRO-PREMUZIC [3 MINUTE READ]
The term “workaholism” was introduced in 1971 to describe the uncontrollable need to work incessantly, and it has the same meaning today.
Contrary to popular belief, though, workaholism isn’t so much about the actual hours that people work but more about how people experience work–including the physical and psychological consequences it has on them. An interesting peculiarity of workaholism is its ability to simultaneously boost employee engagement, and impair health and well-being. In other words, workaholics are more likely to love their jobs and find meaning at work, but at the cost of sacrificing physical and personal well-being.
More importantly, psychological research suggests there’s a critical distinction between overworking because you love your job, and doing so because things got out of control. While the former leads to higher levels of performance, productivity, and motivation, the latter causes stress, alienation, and burnout. Meaning and purpose, it seems, make the difference between productive and counterproductive workaholism, rather than the actual number of hours you work.