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Taking a closer look at workaholism

Monday, November 3, 2014 - 10:21am

What does it mean when work becomes our life, our identity, our primary devotion? The question itself is a function only of higher considerations, a luxury hopefully of which we become availed as society advances. One of the fundamental spilts between the approach to social policy in the U.S. and Europe is over how we see this very question: Workaholism - how does it work?

workaholism tends to produce negative impacts for employers and employees, according to a new study from a University of Georgia researcher.

The study, "All Work and No Play? A Meta-Analytic Examination of the Correlates and Outcomes of Workaholism" published in the Journal of Management, uses existing data to relate the causes and effects of workaholism, including its similarities to other forms of addiction.

"Though there is some disagreement on whether it should be conceptualized as an addiction, some researchers go so far as calling workaholism a ‘positive addiction,'" said Malissa Clark, an assistant professor of industrial/organizational psychology at UGA and lead author on the study. "We recognize in this study that it brings a negative outcome for yourself and the people around you. The mixed rhetoric and research surrounding workaholism provided the need for a thorough quantitative analysis."

Just so, and this is a great point. There's already a lot of research on the subject out there, but the need to understand workaholism remains. Meta-Analysis a statistical technique that involves combining and analyzing the results of many different individual studies devoted to a specific topic, that allows researchers to get a better look at overall trends and identify possible relationships that might exist. That's exactly what Clark and colleagues have done here and the results are very interesting. How to improve the workplace in a way that benefits employees and employers should be of paramount concern. The health of our society is no small part depends on how we appraoch this question, as well as the others that branch our from it. Clark is doing a great job of informing this discussion and we look forward to more.

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