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Overwhelmed and overworked - The Price for Success?

Updated: Mar 13, 2022


What is a workaholic?


Are you feeling stressed? Do you have so many tasks to do but just not enough time yet you can’t stop taking new ones? Do you forget to eat, sleep or even to go to the toilet? Would you call yourself a human-doer rather than a human-being? Then you might be a workaholic. A workaholic is someone who finds themselves obsessed with work, their first priority is their work and everything else falls behind it. The number of workaholics increases from year to year and that has a huge impact on companies as well as individuals’ emotional, mental and physical health.


How are they harming companies?


Repetitive burnouts are the result from lacking work boundaries of obsessive workaholics which leads to high turnovers, sick-leave and poor performance at work. That, of course, costs the companies a lot of money, an estimated £26 billion per year.


This doesn’t sound so much like a success, does it? Not only is the company harmed on a cultural level but the image of a company is struck as well when word gets out and/or the quality of their output diminishes because of the overworked and overwhelmed employees. Most companies still don’t get that workaholism doesn’t mean working hard or even effectively but it’s a compulsive disorder.


Different types of workaholics


There are different types of workaholics and few of them are actually efficient. Most workaholics tend to load themselves with tasks and try to do them all at once. This minimises not only the efficiency but also the quality of their work.


“Multi-tasking” isn’t a real thing. The brain can only hold on to one task at once. When we say we “multi-task” it actually means that we are jumping from one task to another in split-seconds. This isn’t only energy consuming and leads to feeling a higher level of stress. It also decreases the attention for each of the tasks and therefore increases the mistakes happening.


A small number of workaholics only focus on one task at once which seems more efficient in theory, however when you look at the way they work you will find out very quickly that they develop tunnel vision. Looking at an emerging problem from different perspectives and getting creative is nearly impossible at this stage.


What can managers do?


So what can companies do to prevent their employees from becoming overworked and eventually turn into workaholics and burnout-victims?


Look at the culture of your company, begin at the top.


  • What example do you set for your employees?

  • What do you tell your employees to do when they come to you with problems?

  • Are you open for empathetic communication?

  • Do you see your employees only as your workers or are they people with their own personal lives?

  • Are you open to implement change for not only your company’s wellbeing, but your workers’ as well?

  • And what can people do when they feel overworked and overwhelmed?


These are the first questions every business leader needs to ask themselves. Set boundaries for work. Talk about the problems employees face and find solutions with the help of other - ideally external professionals.


Most importantly: build awareness, skills, empowering structures and emotional safety at the workplace.


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