Workaholics Can Become Seriously Sick & Neither the Boss Nor Employee Benefits - MRU

21 December, 2021
Workaholics Can Become Seriously Sick & Neither the Boss Nor Employee Benefits
Faculty of Human and Social Studies

As the pace of life continues to accelerate, we don't even notice as we enter a rat race filled with unending commitments and work, which doesn't even seem to have no end. Thus the desire to complete all assigned tasks on time and achieve the best results often results in physical and emotional burnout, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognised as a highly insidious disease. Often it is not easy to notice the first signs. Due to huge work loads, we often ignore the needs of our loved ones, but also our own personal needs. We forget to take time for a break to rest, we forego eating well or even getting enough sleep. On the one hand, it is understandable that if we don't meet our basic needs, we will not have the energy to do much more. On the other hand, pursuing our needs is often equated with wasting time because it affects work efficiency. So what can we do to recognise the signs of burnout and complete exhaustion? MRU Institute of Communication Lecturer and society behaviour researcher Rūta Latinytė.

Beware of Employers Who Promote Workaholism

Every employer dreams of having good, hardworking employees. However, once the goals have been reached, the desire to achieve more only increases. In the long run, you have to use all the available resources coming face to face with your own limits. However, more and more researchers and psychologists say that time spent at work is often not as efficient as expected. In terms of people's productivity and ability to stay focused, hours at work do not reflect the real situation.

"Workaholism or the excessive focus on work is a serious illness that severely affects a person's emotional and physical health and social ties," said Lecturer Latinytė.

"Another issue is that for workaholics, working is a way to escape from life. If you are working, - then it's extremely important to you. Everything else seems to be put aside, deferred. Workaholics have the perfect excuse for it all: "I'm working!" Your house, loved ones, health and problems - everything's put on hold," she said.

Parents Encourage Working Hard to Become "The Best"

From a young age parents encourage their children to work hard as a condition for success. Deep down inside, every child wants his parents to be proud of him. Thus children try to meet the expectations of their parents by working hard and trying to be "the best." Lecturer Latinyte also related her childhood experiences. She said her mother loved her and always encouraged her to strive for and be the best in what she did.

"Of course, she wanted the best for her child. But the result was that it became a challenge to always strive for something and never waste a minute. It doesn't necessarily mean that you will achieve something in this way," she said. It's often the case that children become held hostage to expectations and repeat the mistakes of their parents and act differently. Children fostered in this type of environment to seek perfection may later end up suffering in life, she added.

Latinytė, who works with internal communication says that upbringing, teachers' requirements and the employer's unrealistic expectations and a toxic work environment may contribute to health-threatening workaholism. Such pressure will not be useful for an organization because employees will simply burnout and may even up in the hospital. Tired team members will not work as effectively and successfully as those able to combine personal and professional life.

International survey company "Gallup" last year conducted a poll of 2,5-million employees and 100,000 teams with 12 different indicators of how employees feel on the job, how they get along with colleagues and if they feel tired. The survey indicated that where there was a more suitable environment, employees showed better more effective and profitable results compared with other companies where the welfare of employees was not considered.

Latinytė said it's the responsibility of each employee to take care of themselves and not be beholden to an employer demonstrating toxic behaviour. She added, who else, if not we, ourselves, will take care of ourselves?

Recommendations on How to Avoid Becoming a Workaholic

  1. Don't regard working yourself to death as a virtue. Understand that working overtime is not to be encouraged.
  2. Don't critique those working overtime - they have become a "hostage" to work and can't free themselves of this burden. It's important to set boundaries, finish existing projects and not take on more than you can do as well as find time to rest.
  3. Be open with yourself and others. Talk with friends, colleagues. When you find out you are not alone, it is easier to live with imperfections and not be "perfect."
  4. Learn to accept help and cooperate with others.
  5. No one can avoid becoming a workaholic - it may be a stage in your life when your boss requires better results, which can force you into overtime.
  6. Beware of spending too much time on social networks, where you compare your life with others and want to live just such a life.
  7. Most importantly, don't think you can do everything. Changes occur step by step when we take care not only of ourselves, but others as well. Even small changes, like resting more and less stress, go a long way towards helping to live a productive and happy life.