Love is often only one step away from hate. Similarly, at work, from a great passion, one step in the wrong direction is all it takes for you to become a workaholic.
The term workaholism is similar to that of alcoholism for a reason. It is to show the strength of the addiction. The addiction takes control over one’s life, the person always “has to” do something and is not able to balance all their life activities. I am going to compare workaholism to being addicted to nicotine, drugs, alcohol, or gambling. Why do I demonize it so much? I encourage you to read the entire article you will find the answer there.
Situations in which we can recognize a workaholic:
Arek is always available, no matter what time you message him, he always replies on the chat within a few minutes.
Arek is a Project Manager and he is very involved in his work. I have a feeling that he has crossed some boundaries. His corporate email and chat are available on three devices, he uses his desktop computer in the office, his laptop for business trips and home office, and his smartphone in every other moment of his life. The phone is connected to the internet all the time, so he gets notified about every email and chat message. The sound on the phone is always turned on, so there is no chance of missing anything. Going one step further, Arek never parts with his smartphone, he is one hundred percent efficient in responding to every message. One day, an employee who was on duty during the weekend sent an email to Arek, it was purely informational. A few days later I got the following message from this employee: You know, I was shocked when three minutes after I sent the message, he called me and started asking for details. I could hear children’s voices in the background, I said I didn’t want to disturb him. I didn’t feel comfortable, now I try not to email him during weekends.
Conclusions: Overzealousness, resulting from workaholic behavior, has a very negative impact on the surroundings and co-workers. People who value their time outside of work feel uncomfortable in such situations. Those who are subordinates feel guilty and feel that they have done something wrong by interacting with the workaholic outside working hours. The workaholic destroys the atmosphere in their team.
Magdalena is a good boss, but I have the impression that she is an android! She never rests and is starting to create a work camp…
Plenty of people love to work with creative minds. Creativity then flows to all other co-workers, we keep getting new tasks, and nobody ever gets bored stagnation is out of the question in such a team. Magdalena is a good boss, very open to new ideas and solutions. I often have the impression that she is a specialist in every subject she touches. However, there came a day when we started creating a mini work camp, everyone was given lists of obligatory texts to read, we had to write notes about them for others. Once, when I was being questioned, I felt like a student. One Sunday night, I got a text message with a link to some industry articles. I was supposed to read them and comment on the content at the Monday morning meeting. I failed to get prepared and was criticized very strongly in front of other team members. If Magdalena doesn’t need rest and needs to learn something new all the time, then for what reason does she force the same behavior on all of us?
Conclusions: Excessive ambition is a prominent trait in many workaholics. Always wanting more, better, faster, more often, more to the point! Many workaholics are haunted by a feeling of time-wasting, unable to switch off, as a sense of guilt overwhelms them. Expecting people to live up to your standards kills creativity in the team and has the opposite of the intended effect. If someone is constantly pressuring me and forcing me to learn, I lose internal motivation.
I have already participated in online meetings on Friday nights, Sunday mornings, and during my vacations. For Kacper, the team leader, nothing is impossible.
If now I could make a list of reasons to have a teleconference, there would not be enough space, time, or my readers’ patience. Kacper is a peculiar leader, it was the first time I encountered such a management model. He has a very strong sense of justice and collective responsibility, which is why he loves organizing meetings. We are discussing because: Beata mentioned today that she is looking for a new job, the man doing the air conditioning check-up wanted to add some extra costs, the people from the support team do not keep the coffee machine clean, and the manager of another team is organizing an online gaming tournament. I understand that these topics are important, but I value my free time. I have pointed this out to Kacper, but he is possessive and does not accept objections. He does it for “our good”. I was finishing my work on Friday and a teammate wrote to me: Have a good weekend, although we will probably hear from each other anyway, I wonder what Kacper will come up with this time.
Conclusions: A leader who introduces their own rules in the team, does not welcome objections from other people. Being a workaholic, he does not understand their arguments. For him, the most important thing is what is good for the company, there are no other values above that. Employees lose motivation, engagement drops, trust is severely damaged. Workaholism kills social competencies.
When Eve is leaving a meeting, I can tell by the way she is walking what mood she is in and whether it is better to avoid her.
Post-meeting stress syndrome is a very common term in corporations. Ewa is a typical workaholic, there is only work in her life, there are no other activities that she enjoys. Going further, if something goes wrong at work, this failure grows to enormous proportions in Ewa’s mind. I do not experience this, there are occasional mistakes, I don’t always get one hundred percent of the work done, but I do have a personal life that brings me a lot of positive emotions. I wish the same for Ewa, but at this point, when she is leaving a meeting and I hear her footsteps, the strong, firm clicking of her heels, I know exactly what it means. She rushes in like a storm and assigns us new tasks as if shooting from a machine gun. Today at a meeting we discussed a project of new categories, the client rejected it and now Aśka is going to explain it to Ewa, she has just whispered: Keep your fingers crossed that I come out of there alive.
Conclusions: For many workaholics, the stress level never goes down. It increases regularly and reaches its peak during business meetings. The accumulated emotions can find an outlet at any time, a small mistake is enough and it can cause a catastrophe. Workaholism encourages stressful situations, outbursts spoil the atmosphere at work, and stress is felt by everyone around.
Third-degree fatigue has struck Przemek, it’s sad to look at him, he looks like a shadow.
I like my job, and I usually feel comfortable in it, but there are situations when I do not know how to act. Przemek has been my supervisor for three years, and I can always see the same tendency in him, he works like mad, does not give himself a moment’s rest, and afterward he walks among us like a shadow. It probably would not bother me, but there are times when I need his help or approval. Third-degree fatigue causes irritability, and I often find myself thinking about whether it’s appropriate to ask a question right now. Przemek constantly forgets things, once he even forgot to add my bonus to the file, then forgot to tell me about it, and then had no time to explain it to me. He keeps not answering his emails, and then later explains that he had no time for it. Yesterday, a teammate said to me: Maybe it would be better if he took some time off? In such a state, he is only disrupting our work.
Conclusions: The workaholic is also human and their body has its limits. Even if they reach the brink of exhaustion, they are unable to let go and rest. The symptoms of fatigue affect the quality of work of the whole team. The workaholic sets a bad example for others, everyone should have time to rest.
A deadline headache has struck Jola and is effectively poisoning our lives, I don’t know how much longer I can stand it…
We have been given a very big task to complete, this is the first such huge project ever for the whole team. We have to prepare data for an offer for a new client. A lot of tasks have been distributed to particular people and Jola is responsible for coordinating the progress of work. Jolanta has been with the company for the longest time, I am not at all surprised that she became the “boss” of our group, however, she has started to go beyond the area of her expertise. She has set very short deadlines for tasks and checks every little bit of progress. She analyzes individual sentences for so much time that in the end she writes everything from scratch, her way. She has set timers for each task and reminds us fifteen times a day what stage we are at. She keeps saying that: we won’t make it, we can’t do it, there’s not enough time, we don’t have the elements ready, we’re working too slowly, we have to try harder! Jola is very stressed, the whole team has lost hope of success, we will probably fail in this task.
Conclusions: Most workaholics live for deadlines. They keep a close eye on them and always feel stressed about their task. Then they forget that being motivated is more important, and a negative attitude does not promise success. These behaviors affect the whole team. Stress is shared, commitment drops, confidence in completing a task disappears.
Addiction, or workaholism, causes:
- Social isolation,
- Sleep disorders,
- Stress due to information overload,
- Pressure from increasing responsibilities,
- Obsessive thoughts about emails and deadlines,
- Outbursts of aggression,
- Slowed digestion,
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure,
- Anxiety or panic attacks,
- Destroys personal life,
- In extreme situations, it creates an environment for further addictions like alcoholism.
This is just a drop in the ocean, but the described situations are based on real events that I have witnessed in my professional life. If some of them feel relevant for you, pause for a moment and consider whether addiction is trying to take over your life.
This article was written by Katarzyna Zienkiewicz, Quality Management Specialist at Euvic. If you want to talk to Kasia about work, motivation, goals, or building self-esteem, feel free to contact her: email@example.com