Preventing Workaholism on Your Team

Having employees who work too hard and too much on your team doesn’t sound like a manager’s biggest problem, right? Surprisingly, it can become a big deal if not taken care of it.

Workaholism is a tendency we see more and more often these days. And if managers overlook that many things can go wrong.

In this article, we’ll go through the main reasons why workaholism can be dangerous for anyone in the company, why managers must take responsibility for any signs of workaholism, and what they can do to prevent it in the workplace.

Why is Workaholism Such a Serious Problem?

Many hours of work require many hours of recovery. Employees who overwork need to take a break in order to recover and need even more time to get back on track. That might slow down the whole team or cause a delay with an important project.

Workaholics are stressed out. That’s not bad just for their own physical and mental well-being, but for the peace of mind and health of those around them. No one wants to work on a project alongside someone who always worries about what might go wrong or who brings their work at home and expects others to do the same.

The scale of the problem is not negligible. In fact, psychologists often refer to workaholism as a form of addiction and even disorder.

Researchers from the University of Bergen have even developed something called The Bergen Work Addiction Scale - a tool that measures how addicted you are to working. The factors that play a role in measuring work addiction include hearing from others that you need to work less, making work a priority and thinking of ways to free up more time and invest it in work-related activities, using work as an escape from negative feelings and personal issues, and more.

Early Signs of Workaholism

One of the first steps employers must take in order to prevent any forms of addition to work is to spot the early signs.

That includes personal qualities in team members such as perfectionism. Wanting everything to be done perfectly might mean working on a project endless hours or losing sleep over a problem at work. Sometimes, it’s enough to remind that it’s okay to let things go and move onto something else. Or, at least, to slow down.

The next series of signs you should be watching out for are those of burnout. That means sleepiness during the workday, decreased motivation, moodiness, chronic stress, lack of concentration, and more. Monitoring employee performance and seeing a big change in somebody’s productivity levels can also be an early sign of burnout, which might be caused by wanting to work more than necessary.

Last but not least, don’t think that workaholism can never get to you as a team manager or business owner. If everyone on your team is feeling drained and tensed and they don’t seem to be enjoying the work process that much anymore, maybe your style is too aggressive or your expectations too high. In this case, it’s best to ask for feedback and see whether you aren’t discouraging efficiency at the workplace by making everyone overwork.

Managing and Preventing the Issue

What can managers do to never have workaholics on their team?

They can consider updating the company’s vacation policy. Encouraging employees to take their time off regularly is one way to get them out of the office and allow them to do something completely different for a while.

Making vacations mandatory might not be on your list of goals for the next quarter, but if you have people on your team who haven’t taken any time off for half a year and aren’t planning on being away any time soon, you might need to consider that.

Employers can also remind workers to take better care of themselves by creating a designated relaxation area at work. When managing a remote team, organize company retreats or have virtual meetings devoted to work-life balance and better ways to achieve that.

Workaholism on the team tends to be harmful. Therefore, it requires the attention of managers. Noticing that as soon as possible and taking special steps against it can help improve the work environment and the team’s performance.


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