1. Study suggests managers can help prevent employees from working while sick

    August 24, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Wiley press release:

    A new study indicates that managerial support can help prevent employees who work extremely hard out of an obsessive drive (‘workaholics’) from forcing themselves to attend work when feeling sick. Such support from managers can also help address work-family conflict in workaholics.

    Increasing the awareness of supervisors of the harmful consequences and costs associated with showing up to work while ill (presenteeism) could allow them to recognise the value of rest and recovery. This could help prevent employees from feeling unable to cope efficiently with obligations pertaining to work and family.

    Managers should be trained to develop supportive leadership skills that are able to function as a protective factor buffering the detrimental association between an overwhelming compulsion to work and presenteeism,” said Dr. Greta Mazzetti, lead author of the International Journal of Psychology study.

  2. Employers need to do more to encourage staff to switch off at home

    January 9, 2017 by Ashley

    From the British Psychological Society (BPS) media release:

    Computer UserLess than half of UK businesses and organisations provide employees with guidance on how to switch off from work when they go home.

    This is one of the findings from a survey conducted by Dr. Almuth McDowall (Birkbeck, University of London) and Professor Gail Kinman (University of Bedfordshire) who will present their results today, Friday 6 January 2017, at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference being held in Liverpool.

    Dr Gail Kinman said: “From January 1st, French workers have the right to disconnect from email to avoid the intrusion of work into their private lives and protect them against burnout. We wanted to know what are UK organisations doing to protect employees against the risks of being always on?”

    Over 370 UK organisations across a range of sectors took part in the survey. Findings revealed that less than 50 per cent of organisations surveyed provided their employees with guidance on how to switch off. Surprisingly, more than half also had no formal policies in place to help their employees balance work demands with personal life in general.

    While some respondents acknowledged that using devices such as smartphones could improve communication at work and boost productivity (24 per cent), the negative effects of technology on relationships at work (21 per cent) and wellbeing (27 per cent)) were also highlighted.

    Dr Gail Kinman commented: “Our findings clearly show that organisations are not helping their staff accommodate to the changing world of work which is likely to have a negative impact on their wellbeing, their work-life balance and their effectiveness. Many individuals we surveyed clearly feel under great pressure not to switch off, leading to intense pressure, poorer performance and worry about what the immediate future holds.

    “It’s time to take a more proactive approach to helping employees and organisations become more ‘e-resilient’ and to manage technology in a more healthy and sustainable way.”

  3. Spanish study predicts increase in workaholism in coming years

    September 12, 2012 by Sue

    From the Asociación RUVID press release via AlphaGalileo:

    workplace stressThe percentage of workaholics in Spain is now 4.6%, and by December 2015 this figure could reach 11.8% of workers. By applying a mathematical model of difference equations, researchers have analysed the possible evolution of this addiction in the coming years under different scenarios of the Spanish economy.

    “The study shows the need to implement measures in order to avoid the spread of which is considered one of the social psychopathologies of this century, as well as to promote a corporate culture that allows increasing the capacity of workers to overcome contexts of emotional pain, grief or fear of job loss“, conclude the authors of the study.

    The WONT research group from the Universitat Jaume I de Castelló, specialized in psychosocial prevention in the workplace, developed a questionnaire to measure and classify the population according to their level of addiction. “Most of us spend much of our time at work. Some can even become addicted to it, spending an inordinate amount of time and energy to work and doing it in a very intense and compulsive way.

    Others work hard because they have fun and not because they believe that is what they have to do, they are the “engaged” workers. Through this study we identify the level of addiction and to which extent do employees enjoy working”, explains Mario Líbano, researcher at the Universitat Jaume I. Overall, 1,200 workers of the Valencian region and the Basque Country aged between 16 and 69 years answered this questionnaire.

    From the survey results, in order to create the mathematical model, researchers from the Multidisciplinary Institute of Mathematics from the Polytechnic University of Valencia divided the population into three categories: rational workers (with 40 hours or less per week); over workers (over 40 hours) and addicts (determined by their level of compulsion from the answers given in the survey). “Solving the equations of our model, we can predict the prevalence of addiction to working in our country,” said Lucas Jódar, director of the Institute. Alongside Jódar, Paloma Merello, Elena de la Poza and Elvira Alberola have also participated in this part of the project.

    In their study, the researchers have also considered four possible economic scenarios: the first one based on the forecasts of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which predicts a rise of unemployment until 2013; a second optimistic scenario that contemplates the reduction of the unemployment rate to 2010 levels; the third one based on the analysis of FUNCAS, which expects a slow recovery from 2014; and a final more pessimistic one marked by a steady rise in the number of unemployed in Spain till 2015.

    “Also, for the construction of the mathematical model we considered other factors that may affect workaholism, such as emotional stress that we have quantified from the rate of marriage dissolutions and socially spread stress”, added researchers.

    After applying the model, the study predicts an increase of workaholics in all scenarios, being the highest in the “optimistic scenario” with 11.88%. In the scenario given by the OECD, the rate is 11.72%, 11.65% for FUNCAS scenario, and in the worst scenario of 11.55%. The University of the Basque Country also took part in this study.

  4. Researchers develop method to measure work addiction

    April 23, 2012 by Sue

    From the University of Bergen press release via EurekAlert!:

    Researchers from Norway and the United Kingdom have developed a new instrument to measure work addiction: The Bergen Work Addiction Scale. The new instrument is based on core elements of addiction that are recognised as diagnostic criteria for several addictions.

    Some people seem to be driven to work excessively and compulsively. These are denoted as work addicts – or workaholics.

    In the wake of globalisation, new technology and blurred boundaries between work and private life, we are witnessing an increase in work addiction, Doctor Cecilie Schou Andreassen from the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Bergen (UiB) says.

    Andreassen leads the team that has developed the new instrument, which is the first of its kind worldwide. With her background as a clinical psychologist specialist and her work as a consultant for the private sector, she is familiar with the real-life implications of work addiction.

    A number of studies show that work addiction has been associated with insomnia, health problems, burnout and stress as well as creating conflict between work and family life, Andreassen says.

    The Bergen Work Addiction Scale is presented in an article in the renowned Scandinavian Journal of Psychology.

    By testing themselves with the scale, people can find out their degree of work addiction: non-addicted, mildly addicted or workaholic, Andreassen explains.

    12,135 Norwegian employees from 25 different industries participated in the development of the Bergen Work Addiction Scale. The scale was administrated to two cross-occupational samples. The scale reflects the seven core elements of addiction: Salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, relapse and problems.

    The results show the scale as reliably differentiating between workaholics and non-workaholics.

    The scale may add value to work addiction research and practice, particularly when it comes to facilitating treatment and estimating prevalence of work addiction in the general population worldwide, according to Andreassen.

    About the scale: Seven basic criteria

    The Bergen Work Addiction Scale uses seven basic criteria to identify work addiction, where all items are scored on the following scale: (1) Never, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, and (5) Always:

    • You think of how you can free up more time to work.
    • You spend much more time working than initially intended.
    • You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression.
    • You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
    • You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
    • You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work.
    • You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.

    Andreassen’s study shows that scoring of “often” or “always” on at least four of the seven items may suggest that you are a workaholic.

  5. Study suggests that “all work” doesn’t compensate for “no play”

    December 2, 2011 by Sebastian

    From the Kingston Business School press release:

    People who think that becoming a workaholic means they can compensate for an unhappy home life are deluding themselves, according a new study from Kingston Business School.

    Researchers investigated the idea that employees who are dissatisfied in their personal lives seek ‘compensatory rewards’ through work, but found that this is hardly ever successful.

    The study, published in the British Journal of Management, bases its conclusions on an analysis of a detailed survey about the life and job satisfaction of more than 10,000 people across thirty European countries.  It found that in most countries there is an overall link between job and life satisfaction, especially for the main earners in households but, crucially, this would not extend to anyone attempting to use work to compensate for unhappiness in their personal life.

    “The life and the work domains are definitely clearly correlated. Happiness at home affects your job and vice versa.  Although there is a clear ‘spillover’ effect from one area of life to the other, there is no evidence that people who are very unhappy at home will feel ‘compensated’ by work in any way,” report co-author Professor Yannis Georgellis from Kingston Business School said.

    The results in western European countries with a broadly similar Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita such as France, Germany and Austria showed a weaker correlation between job and life satisfaction.  In contrast, there was a much stronger link between happiness in the office and at home in Eastern European lower GDP per capita, more traditional countries like Croatia, Hungary and Romania. “The majority of people in countries with more traditional values report that work is extremely important in their lives. This is not always the case for individuals in more modern, less traditional countries who view work only as a small part of their daily life and identity,” Professor Georgellis added.

    However, as he acknowledges, there are important factors that influence how strongly job and life satisfaction are correlated that need to be accounted for.  “The study finds that being happy at work becomes less important to women’s overall wellbeing when they have pre-school children, for example, possibly because this changes working mothers’ priorities,” Professor Georgellis said.  “This alters when children become teenagers and the link between job and overall life satisfaction is strengthened at this time as mothers often return to work.”  The link between job and life happiness was also much stronger among single people of both sexes than those who were married, he added.