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Studies Show Workaholics Endanger Their Health and Are Less Productive on the Job

Studies Show Workaholics Endanger Their Health and Are Less Productive on the Job

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By David E. Hubler
Contributor, Online Career Tips

A former supervisor of mine once told me, “If you can’t get your work done by five p.m., you’re doing something wrong.” That was music to my ears because I always did get my work in on time. I was home or at the gym while my colleagues around me routinely burned the midnight oil at their desks.

Nevertheless, I always wondered if my ability to get my daily work done punctually wasn’t seen by others as “sloughing off” or “cutting out early.”

Of course, there are times when it is imperative to work beyond normal hours to finish a project or wait for further important information that must be incorporated in a final report.

How to Determine if You’re a Workaholic

For many workers today, the nine-to-five job feels like a relic of a bygone era. As The Guardian reported, “Jobs today are endlessly stressed and increasingly precarious. Overwork has become the norm in many companies – something expected and even admired.”

However, Dawn Ellis, a call center executive, says, “Before you pat yourself on the back for being 100% devoted to your career and job, take a step away from your desk and ask, ‘Am I really spending too much time in the office?’”

Some signs that you might be a workaholic could include:

  • Arriving early and regularly staying behind to complete tasks
  • Not being able to commit to social plans outside the office
  • Taking on additional work which isn’t required of your assigned tasks

Ellis goes on to say that if you are a workaholic, “Ask yourself: what are you trying to achieve by spending large amounts of time sitting behind your keyboard?”

You may be contributing to the growth of your company, working to advance your career or justifying a paycheck by always meeting deadlines. “However, working ridiculous hours to get ahead of your workload could be affecting your physical and mental health,” she warns.

Workaholics Could Be in Need of a ‘Business Detox’

A 2014 study conducted by the worldwide employment and health practices information provider Willis Towers Watson found a correlation between high stress levels from working too hard or long and productivity levels.

Highly stressed employees take an average of 4.6 sick days per year compared to 2.6 days for employees reporting low stress levels, the study noted. “’Presenteeism’ – the act of attending work when unwell and unproductive – was 50% higher for highly stressed employees with an average of 16 days per year versus around 10 days for employees claiming to have low stress.” Workers with high stress levels might be in need of a so-called “business detox.”

Willis Towers Watson’s Rebekah Haymes explains: “Wellness is about promoting changes in behavior and encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Companies could take more responsibility for educating employees about the benefits of better sleep, physical activity, good nutrition and a work-life balance in order to keep employees healthy, happy and productive. Some companies are making great progress in this area and are already starting to see the business benefits of having a healthy workforce.”

Paychex Company’s SurePayroll blog lists five telltale signs of spending too much time at work:

  1. Your new best friends are on the night shift. If you start work in the morning and are still around to hang out with the night shift, something is wrong.
  2. You are putting on weight. There are many reasons why this could happen, but working long hours is one that you should definitely consider. As you sit at your desk, you are prone to feeding your face with junk food. In addition to overeating, you don’t have any time to work out. Over time, your weight will slowly rise.
  3. Your children are sleeping when you leave for the office and are in bed by the time you return home. Do you really want to miss out on watching your children grow up?
  4. If your car is the last one in the parking lot when you leave work, you are sticking around way too long.
  5. When your boss tells you to go home, you are spending too much time at the office. It is probably a good idea to take this advice.

“If business leaders want to promote a lower stress environment in their workplace, it’s vital that they understand the real causes of stress in their organization,” Haymes advises. “These can be specific areas that are not immediately visible to management if good communication and feedback structures are not in place throughout the organization. Without this, even the most well-meaning management team can find itself focusing energy and resource on the wrong areas.”

Workaholics need to recognize that all those long hours do not result in quality work. Instead, they lead to lower productivity, increased stress and, worst of all, health problems.