They have been lambasted for their long working hours, for taking their laptops on holiday and obsessively checking their emails. But now there is good news for workaholics everywhere – their fixation with work is not necessarily a bad thing.
A new academic paper argues that workaholism is often unfairly seen as a negative phenomenon for individuals and society. A Rouen Business School professor, Yehuda Baruch, argues that workaholism – while still an addiction – can lead to positive outcomes for individuals, business and society. It should not, he concluded, be automatically dismissed as a vice.
In the article, published in Career Development International, Professor Baruch writes that literature on workaholism portrays it as a negative addiction, associated with high levels of stress at work and home and interfering with work-life balance. But empirical research also shows that workaholics are likely to display vigour and dedication, rather than exhaustion and cynicism.
Professor Baruch likens work addiction to a chocolate addiction arguing that there are some health benefits to be gained by eating chocolate; it energizes people and generates a good feeling. Similarly, workaholics are energized by their work and their achievements reinforce a sense of well-being.
He argues that unless workaholic employees cause significant damage to their health, it may be best to leave it to them to decide how much work they are willing to carry out.