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Workaholics often present a mixed bag for managers, but with the right management, companies can minimize negative effects and highlight the positives that workaholics bring to the workplace.
That means companies will be able to take advantage of the effort and willingness to help other workers that workaholics admit they bring to the table without seeing tension and burnout that is also associated with self-described workaholics.
Research by Wayne Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration in Florida State’s College of Business, and research associate Daniel Herrera found that 60 percent of 400 workers in professional and administrative careers studied in the research considered themselves to be workaholics.
"We found that there is an optimal level of workaholism for job effectiveness and positive health," Hochwarter said. "However, when in excessively low or high ranges, both the company and the employee are likely to suffer. We discovered that workaholics really struggle when they feel that they are alone or swimming upstream without a paddle."
The key to getting the most out of workaholics lies in providing them with the resources they need to take full advantage of the positives they bring to the table. Providing access to personnel, rest, equipment and social support at work was found to have a number of positive effects on workaholics, including higher job satisfaction, perceived job importance and career fulfillment. Additionally, negatives such as burnout, exclusion and work frustration were also lowered when workers were given those resources.
In addition to providing those resources to workers, managers should also communicate with workaholics to see how they would like to be managed. The researchers also suggest that managers have more realistic expectations when it comes to their workers in order to maximize the positives that workaholics bring to an organization.
"Having realistic expectations that take into account both the work and the person doing the work, is essential," Hochwarter said. "The warning signs of burnout are recognizable and, if ignored, they will eventually lead to unwanted outcomes ranging from declining performance to death."
Despite the challenges of managing workaholics, the researchers believe that the work habits of workers will not change anytime soon.
"Given the volatility in today’s work environment, the ability to work hard, contribute long hours and demonstrate value is at a premium," Herrera said. "Thus, workaholism will likely remain alive and well for years to come."