Work addiction, also known as workaholism, can be defined as a compulsive and excessive preoccupation with work, often to the detriment of other life activities. Individuals struggling with work addiction typically exhibit an uncontrollable urge to constantly engage in work-related tasks, frequently at the expense of personal relationships, physical well-being, and overall mental health. This phenomenon is characterised by an obsessive need to be productive and an inability to disconnect from work responsibilities, even during non-working hours or vacation periods.
Today's Top Stories
- Defamation case | Boss forced to pay former employee-turned-competitor over Facebook post
- Change management | 5 approaches to help your organisation capitalise on change
- 'Dear Santa' | What HR really wants as a gift this year - is yours on the list?
- 'Envy offices' | Coaxing staff back with 'fun' offices defeats the point of the modern workplace
Recently, Idris Elba has shared that he has been in therapy for work addiction. “I’m an absolute workaholic and that isn’t great for life generally. Nothing that’s too extreme is good, everything needs balance, but I’m rewarded massively to be a workaholic,” Elba told Annie Macmanus on her Changes podcast.
So what is a work addict – and are you managing one (or more?)
Arguably, work addiction came to be a ‘thing’ when we moved into the industrial revolution and the traditional notion of labour underwent a profound change, with an increasing emphasis on efficiency, productivity, and time-based outputs. The subsequent evolution of technology and globalisation in the 20th and 21st centuries further amplified the pressure on individuals to remain constantly connected to work, fostering a culture that glorifies long working hours.
The modern concept of work addiction gained prominence in the latter half of the 20th century, coinciding with the rise of corporate culture and the proliferation of competitive market dynamics. The emergence of a globalised economy and the proliferation of digital communication technologies intensified the demands on professionals, fostering an environment conducive to the development of workaholic tendencies.
When people are at home they feel they have to prove that they are working, so they are more responsive to emails or calls – that creates the perfect breeding ground for work addiction
Over time, the detrimental impact of work addiction on individuals' physical and mental well-being has garnered increased attention from researchers, clinicians, and policymakers, leading to a growing recognition of the importance of achieving a healthy work-life balance.