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Helping Candidates Avoid or Correct Workaholic Tendencies

Search and staffing professionals sometimes encounter individuals stressed out by their current employment and seeking a position that is consistent with their talents, one that is less demanding of their time. To be certain, being overworked is frequently cited by individuals attempting to change of occupational environments, but what if the stressing is self-induced?  In such cases---sometimes referred to as workaholism--- it is unlikely that a change in work environments will remedy the situation. 

Recognizing Workaholism

The candidate who cannot pinpoint the cause of their employment discomfort may have to look at both themselves and their work to discover the source of the difficulty. When the blame can be identified, behavior modification strategies may be the best path to a more acceptable employment situation. Workaholism manifests itself in multiple ways, including: 

· 24/7 syndrome – Once upon a time the individual cleared the desk, put away their tools and left the work station at the end of the day. Modern technology and communication devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.,), and in some instances the demands of the job, have connected many to their work 24/7 and made make separation difficult---if not impossible. The ability to work from virtually anywhere blurs the line between time on and off the clock.

· Personal satisfaction challenge – Some individuals have difficulty recognizing when their work has resulted in an acceptable product. These perfectionists are never satisfied. In their quest for more or better, they become entrenched and remain connected to their work. In reality, they simply need to know when to push back from the keyboard.

· Inability to manage time and arrest personal time bandits – Poor time management skills often result in wasted clock and calendar experiences. Positive time management, on the other hand, can lead to an efficiency that will allow for assumption of new and expanded responsibilities.  Whether procrastination or one of any number of time gobbling evils, old behaviors must be replaced by new ones.

· Pressure to perform – Fast-paced, competitive workplaces are known to generate pressures, both real and imagined, to perform. How the individual responds to those pressures may lead to workaholic behaviors. Often, a change in work environments is all that is needed.

· Work addiction – Yes, there are some individuals who love what they do, live vicariously through their work and are in constant search of new challenges and opportunities. This type of behavior becomes problematic, however, when work becomes an obsession and the individual is never satisfied with her or his circumstances.

Self-awareness of the symptoms of workaholism can be a positive first step for those who are affected negatively by this condition. Such recognition may also lead to the corrective actions needed to reduce or eliminate it. 

 

Addressing Workaholic Behavior

The problems associated with workaholic behavior may be minimized if the employee masters the following 11 habits: 

· Gain a comprehensive understanding of role expectations (What are you expected to do?)

· Determine priorities (What order is required?)

· Observe how peers and colleagues perform similar roles and emulate practices that maximize efficiency. (How do others do it?)

· Develop a task completion plan. (What is a reasonable time frame for doing the work?)

· Develop a personal style or modus operandi that ensures efficiency and productivity in the completion of work responsibilities. (How will you approach and do the work?)

· Work in concert with others in task fulfillment when appropriate (How will the workplace team function?) 

· Practice the art of “intelligent neglect.” (What may be delayed or not needed at all?)

· Monitor task completion and time expended. (How will you evaluate your performance?)

· Cultivate disengagement in the form non-work activities and projects (i.e., personal, cultural, social, and recreational, etc.) and make each a part of your calendar. (How will you achieve life-work balance?)

· Take corrective action when called for. (What new behaviors will you need to learn?)

· Engage in practices that promote and result in growth, development and mobility. (How will you ensure your personal career development?) 

Unattended workaholism can be problematic for both the individual and the employer. A Kansas State University study, published in the Financial Planning Review, found that people who work more than 50 hours per week were prone to experience both physical and mental health consequences. Employers, on the other hand, need to realize that creativity, productivity and efficiency are jeopardized when their employees don’t function capably and include non-work balance in their lives. 

Life-work balance will pay significant dividends for both.

Coming in January – Setting Workplace Resolutions for the New Year

Direct future topics suggestions for The Career Mechanic to him at ednow@aol.com

 

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