When Being a Workaholic Works

There may be different types of workaholics, says Marcia Miceli, DBA (a doctorate of business administration), professor of human resources at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business in Columbus.

She and two other researchers analyzed more than 50 research articles and books on the topic. Their findings: At least some workaholics are perfectly happy with their status (Human Relations, 1997).

If you’ve been putting in long hours (beyond what your job actually requires), try asking yourself these questions:

Do my work habits seem excessive – even to me?

If you’re unhappy with your work habits but can’t seem to cut down the extra hours, you may fall into the “compulsive workaholic” category. A licensed therapist can help you work out your problems.

Do I prefer to be in control or to delegate?

“We propose that perfectionist workaholics have a strong need to be in control,” says Dr. Miceli. Folks with this mindset can do well if they find a job that rewards hands-on management, a high standard of work quality and the ability to work independently.

Does my job satisfy me?

Some people really do seem to find their jobs rewarding even though they spend almost all their time doing them. “These are people who have chosen jobs that enable them to meet their achievement needs and spend a lot of time working at things they really like doing,” Dr. Miceli says. Based on clinicians’ reports, researchers propose that these “achievement-oriented workaholics,” if their friends and family are accommodating, may actually experience less stress than their non-workaholic coworkers. However, studies are needed to test this theory.

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