Research finds workaholics face negative moods, highlighting health risks

Several studies have indicated that workaholics commonly experience a sense of unwellness, often accompanied by negative emotions such as hostility, anxiety, and guilt when they are unable to work as extensively as they wish.

However, new research has found that the mood of workaholics – people who suffer from work addiction – is on average worse than that of others, even when they are engaged in the activity they are most passionate about: their work.

Professor Cristian Balducci said: “The negative mood observed in workaholics may indicate elevated daily stress levels and that could be the cause of the higher risk for these individuals to develop burnout and cardiovascular problems.

“Furthermore, considering that workaholics often hold positions of responsibility, their negative mood could readily influence that of colleagues and co-workers.”

“This poses a risk that organisations should seriously consider, intervening to discourage behaviours that contribute to workaholism.”

To find out how addicts feel when they are working the team, from the University of Bologna, performed a psychological test on 139 full-time workers.

They then analysed the mood of these workers throughout the day using an app on their phones.

Professor Balducci added: “The collected data show that the most workaholic workers have on average a worse mood than the others.”

“So, it does not appear to be true that people who are addicted to work derive more pleasure from their work activity; quite the opposite, the results seem to confirm that, as in other forms of behavioural and substance addiction, the initial euphoria gives way to a negative emotional state that pervades the person even while at work.”

Additionally, they discovered that workaholics had a much more consistently negative mood throughout their day regardless of external factors.

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Dr Luca Menghini said: “This element could stem from the workaholic’s inability to moderate work investment, resulting in a significant decrease in disconnection and recovery experiences, and the parallel consolidation of a negative affective tone.”

The results, published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, also show that women are more vulnerable to workaholism than men, which the team expect to be a result of gender expectations still deeply rooted in our culture.

They believe that workaholism is dangerous and could even in some cases cause death.

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Prof Balducci added: “Organisations must send clear signals to workers on this issue and avoid encouraging a climate where working outside working hours and at weekends is considered the norm.”

“On the contrary, it is necessary to foster an environment that discourages excessive and dysfunctional investment in work, promoting disconnection policies, specific training activities and counselling interventions.”

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