One of the priority areas of interest for health professionals at work is addiction to it. Workaholism (work addiction) is defined as the need to work constantly , which affects your family and social relationships, as well as general well-being, life satisfaction, and mental health status.

It is a phenomenon that began to be studied in the 90s, and which is characterized by four features: spending much more time than necessary in the job, having unrealizable expectations about the fruit of unemployment, dedicating more effort than necessary about work, and the inability to deduct from it.

An investigation developed by María José Serrano-Fernández, Joan Boada-Grau, Carme Gil-Ripoll and Andreu Vigil-Colet analyzes the variables that predict the potential development of this problem among workers. In their study, they find that the need to achieve perfection, as well as the need for growth, are variables that are positively related to work addiction. In this way, a meticulous and ambitious attitude seems to be related to this phenomenon.

The quality of social relationships

However, the aforementioned research also yields important data by pointing out that life satisfaction, social skills and proper nutrition habits are a brake on work addiction. In this way, it is observed that rich social relationships outside of work, which will undoubtedly lead to higher rates of satisfaction with life, represents an important factor in trying to establish a healthy relationship with our work.

In no case should it be understood that ambition in the work environment, or the need for professional growth, are necessarily problematic traits for professional performance. However, it must be assumed that labor relations today develop in extremely competitive environments . Faced with this perspective, the worker is framed in an environment conducive to developing tendencies of addiction to work.

In fact, it must be understood that, in addition to personal traits, there are factors inherent to work environments that favor work addiction. In a context of increasingly precarious and flexible labor relations , there is a trend towards the development of very long working hours. In Spain the culture of presenteeism is very common, based on the imposition of marathon days of work for no apparent reason. Simply because of the fact that developing working hours is understood as a value for companies. Under this circumstance, there will be workers who, even developing very long hours of work, will not feel that link related to growth and will experience this imposition simply as an obligation.. Other people will turn to their professional performance by adopting a very damaging commitment, as can be seen.

The long working hours

Without a doubt, long working hours, regardless of whether the worker assumes them voluntarily or imposed, are problematic for well-being . In the first place, long hours are the leading cause of workplace accidents; second, they represent a deterioration of social and family relationships; thirdly, they negatively affect people’s health status, both physically and related to mental health, and, lastly, they do not increase the efficiency of the company. On the contrary, the deterioration of the health of the workers ends up generating extra costs in the organizations.

In conclusion: if work becomes the center of a person’s life, a source to “keep busy” and avoid facing other problems, it may be time to reflect on the situation and think about patterns of change . Secondly, it is necessary to try to avoid the development of working hours of excessive duration, regardless of whether they are adopted voluntarily or imposed, since in the immediate, medium and long term they will be the source of deep discomfort. 

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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