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Workaholics Can Hurt Your Business

[ 0 ] Jul. 3, 2012 | SBO Editor

Josh Tolan has put together some fascinating finds on workaholics.

Working long hours was once the norm for Americans in the workforce, but with the help of technology, working around the clock is becoming the new epidemic.

As our smart phones travel on our hips and even enjoy a special spot in our beds at night, the emails buzz like text messages at all times of the day — and workaholics tend to them.

The true definition of a workaholic is someone who feels constant pressure to work in order to fulfill an innate need. A workaholic’s obsession with work prevents them from maintaining healthy relationships and deters them from achieving a prosperous work-life balance. Just like any “ism,” workaholism is an abnormal state caused by excess and the consequences have proven to outweigh the benefits.

Though you may secretly be jumping for joy because your employees are constantly on call and tending to clients’ needs at all hours, the relationship of time and productivity does not correlate over the long term.

Over 150 years of research proves that long hours kills profits, productivity, and employees. The 40-hour work-week was a knowledgeable business decision embedded in America’s history for three generations, but how soon we have forgotten the ensured efficiency and employee morale it guaranteed.

For every extra hour worked, there is a direct cost to your employees. By working more hours in a day, many employees make trade-offs without considering their long-term effects. It is all too common for a workaholic’s priority list to quickly become disheveled as their work-related items drive the disappearance of previously meaningful tasks.

Missing dinner with the family or your child’s soccer game may initially be justified as a one-time decision, but these choices often become habits. Furthermore, devoting an excessive amount of time to work can affect eating habits as your busy employees choose to skip meals in their entirety or pick up fast food on their way home. Lastly, a lack of sleep is the final ingredient leading workaholics down the road of poor mental and physical health.

When it comes to the 24/7 working culture in the U.S., employees may be their own worst enemy according to Leslie A. Perlow, the Konosuke Matsushita professor of leadership at Harvard Business School. Perlow conducted some research involving a team of high-powered, workaholic consultants to see if they could disconnect after working hours and also discover the results of their decisions.

The key to her research was committing as a team. With the joint effort to solidify time off, the consultants communicated more, supported one another, and held each other accountable for connecting after working hours.

All employees want to be the over-achiever constantly impressing other co-workers and bosses with the amount of work they can get done; therefore, employees must work as a team to draw the line and set a new norm.

Remind your employees of their choice to change the way things are going. Encourage them to separate their work and personal lives by tending to midnight emails as soon as they step into the office the next morning. If your company jumps on board to help maintain positive balances, you can expect high productivity levels over a long time span and more importantly, happier employees.

Have you noticed low-quality work as a result of work addiction? How can you help to stop the 24/7 working culture?

Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire , which combines a video job board and online interviewing platform to enrich interaction between job seekers and employers. Connect with Josh at jtolan@sparkhire.com and Spark Hire on Twitter at @SparkHire.

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Category: Features