Posted by: waikatogifted | June 9, 2011

Workaholics – We’re sure they’re bad, right?

Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour icon.

My wonderful cousin, Dr Lynley McMillan, did her doctoral research on workaholism, an area that will be of interest to many gifted adults. Some are likely to read this more than a little nervously, in case they see themselves among the words they will find written here. But never fear, as the news is not all bad. Guest blogger Lynley McMillan begins her series of five blog posts today.

Workaholism is an interesting phenomenon. The Americans think it is an addiction, a disease, and a rampaging threat to families. In France, given the working hours, siestas and long holidays, they probably don’t bump into it too much. Eastern block countries are just beginning to contact me about it – so are students from China…

But here in God’s own New Zealand, where we are reputed for being among the hardest workers in the world, things are different. Firstly, we don’t see workaholism as so much of a problem, and secondly, at least three separate parcels of research here over the last 10 years have shown that workaholics do not suffer from any greater ill effects than anyone else in NZ’s general population. In short, it seems that we enjoy working hard, and it causes us few problems. Why?

Firstly, like most things academic, the international research community disagrees about how to define workaholism. The North Americans use a definition of (a) Drive (compulsion to work), (b) Enjoyment (finding work pleasurable) and (c) Work Involvement (feeling deeply engaged in it). Sounds logical…but…none of the studies I’ve read (from NZ, Japan, Canada, Australia, and some Eastern Block countries) have been able to get the Work Involvement factor to behave. And the problem with that? Well, they predicate all the different types of workaholism on a three legged stool model which includes Work Involvement. In other words, one of the legs of the stool is wobbly – and we all know where that leads…

So, how do other researchers see it? Most of us are sure footed about workaholism including high Drive and high Enjoyment (we’re driven and we love it!). And most of us agree that the toxic formula is when we are hugely driven, but hate it (work slaves). What does that mean for us ordinary mortals?

If you’re a workaholic RELAX – it’s OKAY! (But here’s the small print – if you’re a workaholic and your Partner is not, then we have a situation that requires some attention). Read tomorrow’s blog for more.

Two deck chairs on a beach.

Some cultures may be more workaholic - or more holiday-oriented - than others.

This photo, by Flickr member Auntie P, has attribution, non-commercial and share-alike licenses.

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Responses

  1. […] “Most of us are sure footed about workaholism including high Drive and high Enjoyment (we’re driven and we love it!). And most of us agree that the toxic formula is when we are hugely driven, but hate it (work slaves). What does that mean for us ordinary mortals?” Read More […]

    • If a person is driven to work more than others, and doesn’t enjoy it much, the research data indicates they are at a greater risk of a raft of health problems (depression, anxiety, health compaints, etc). It’s the drive/low enjoyment combination that’s the problem. Solutions are diverse and range from changing jobs, engaging an executive coach, or seeing a therapist to make personal changes in belief patterns and behaviours that create the drive and deplete the enjoyment.


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