If you ask a colleague or friend how things are going, chances are they will engage in the “humble brag” of saying they are “super busy.” It’s supposedly humble because they are kind of lamenting the fact. But really it’s a brag, because in our culture today we valorize hard work to a tremendous degree.
The problem is workaholism is nothing to be proud of. Over-work, many scientists agree, does not result in increased productivity, but it does have negative effects on your emotions and home life.
“Our results show that while unrelated to job performance, workaholism does influence other aspects like job stress, greater work-life conflict, decreased physical health and job burnout that indicate workers aren’t going to be productive.”
That’s what Malissa Clark of the University of Georgia, said. She is the main author of the study, “All Work and No Play? A Meta-Analytic Examination of the Correlates and Outcomes of Workaholism” published in the Journal of Management earlier this year.
According to MedicalXpress,
Workaholism, a term coined by American psychologist Wayne Oates in 1971, describes a condition in which someone’s need for work becomes so excessive as to create disturbances or interference with personal health and happiness, interpersonal relations and social functioning.
Being super busy has become a badge of honor in much of American culture. It’s evidence of your importance, your dedication and your work ethic.
“‘Slammed’ has become shorthand for ‘kind of a big deal’,” writes Jessica Stillman at Inc.com.
But Clark’s findings indicate two facts that contradict any reason for lionizing over-work. First, workaholics are not more productive, but more likely less productive. And second, when over-work amounts to workaholism, it’s very much like an addiction and very different from real, and valuable, “work engagement.”
“One is feeling driven to work because of an internal compulsion, where there’s guilt if you’re not working—that’s workaholism. The other feeling is wanting to work because you feel joy in work and that’s why you go to work everyday, because you enjoy it. And I say that is work engagement.”
So, if you’re working harder out of guilt and not joy, that’s no reason to brag. And finally, there a point of diminishing returns for hard work.
We need time away from work for work time to be well spent.
(Check out Clark’s original study here.)