They used to be the poster boys of the ideal worker – people who log in more than 50 hours per week, depriving themselves of weekend and even holiday breaks all for the love of, if not obsession, for the job.
But as more businesses start to smart up on how to efficiently manage people, using and reaping the benefit of maintaining a positive work-life balance, many are finding it unnecessary—and sometimes dangerous—to hire and keep workaholics in their staff.
In fact, recent studies even suggest that habits of workaholics tend to be more counter-productive for businesses.
Case in point is a study by Harvard Business School professor Leslie A. Perlow. In her experiment, Perlow conducted an experiment with self-confessed workaholics, asking them to turn off their phone at night time for one night a week. This means that for that one night, starting at 6:00 in the evening, workaholics were asked to do absolutely no work. Each week, the test subjects meet up to discuss their progress.
Initially, the experiment proved to be so painful for the subjects that it caused so much stress going offline from jobs. However, as weeks progressed, the test subjects admitted that “disconnecting” led them to become not only more productive, but also fulfilled with their work.
“(The experiment) taught me that people who appear to be thriving on the nonstop workweek are really thriving on a job well done. And, as soon as the definition of success changes, so too does their behavior,” Perlow said.
Companies based in the Philippines can learn a lot from this experiment, as the practice of achieving a good work-life balance is still catching up among Filipinos.
While workaholism is not regarded as a psychosis–unlike other addiction such as alcoholism–many doctors would agree that they often find symptoms of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder among people who are obsessed with work.
Ultimately, it’s unhealthy. Overwork can trigger surges of adrenaline, which floods the body and taxes every physical function, especially that of the heart. Adrenaline can contribute to high blood pressure and to the build-up of plaque in heart vessels, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Worse, workaholics can be detrimental to office itself. They tend to resist collaboration and do not delegate tasks, which can take a toll on the overall office productivity.
As such, many doctors would advise managers and business owners to quickly check for people who are workaholics and do a quick intervention before the behavior ruins overall office performance.