Are you a workaholic?

Guest post author Anita Brady takes a look at how workaholism has become a growing problem with the American workforce.

The words “workaholic” and “workaholism” evolved in the mid-1960s and ’70s to describe a growing problem, particularly in the United States. People are working harder and harder, but the end product isn’t fluctuating that much. While we’re still one of the leaders in work productivity rankings, Americans are actually working harder for less. One way to look at it is to consider the fact that American productivity has gone up about 400 percent since 1950. That is, in 1950 about 11 hours of work resulted in about the same standard of living afforded by our 40+ hour work week.

According to statistics collected by Data.Un.Org,

85.8 percent of males in the United States work more than a 40-hour work week, along with 66.5 percent of women. This in comparison to the United Kingdom, where 65 percent of men and 27.3 percent of women work over 40 hours, and Japan with 82.2 percent of men and 49.8 percent of women working more than 40 hours a week.

Even though we’re putting in longer hours, the end result is not much different from that of developed countries with legally mandated leave. A recent study published by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign showed that just by taking breaks every 20 minutes or so can help people focus more on the tasks at hand, and more and more studies are showing that increased work hours do not result in higher productivity; in fact, they could be detrimental.

How Too Much Work Impacts Your Life

While working 60 hours a week may inch you a couple fractions up the corporate ladder or result in a bit more of a bonus at the end of the year, consider the impact excess work hours have on your life.

People working 60 hours a week or more are 23 percent more likely to be injured or wind up sick at work. They’re also more likely to wind up divorced, with workaholic spouses divorcing at a rate of 55 percent compared to 17 percent with non-workaholic partners. And for those working 11 hours a day or more, the chance of having a coronary heart disease increases 67 percent over those who work the standard seven or eight.

But Am I a Workaholic?

Do you work or read during meals? Do you turn your hobbies into moneymaking ventures? Are you afraid that if you don’t work hard you will lose your job or be a failure? Is the future a constant worry for you even when things are going very well?

These are just a handful of the 20 questions asked by Workaholics Anonymous, an organization founded to help others “to stop working compulsively and to carry the message of recovery to workaholics who still suffer.” Founded in 1983, the international fellowship consists of more than 1000 members who support each other through meetings, online and over the phone.

While you may not be at the point of needing a support group, if you’re worried that you might be a workaholic it can’t hurt to check out Workaholics Anonymous’ “20 Questions: How Do I Know If I’m a Workaholic? ” and some of their “Tools of Recovery.”

If you find that work is devouring more and more of your waking life, consider taking a step back and work in a little more free time, a little more relaxing, and a lot more time with the ones you love. A sabbatical or a short-term break often helps rejuvenate the mind and you’ll find time to think about reevaluating your priorities.

You’re sure to find that a life with a little less overtime can be filled with a lot more personal happiness.

An infographic via Careerbuilder:


About the guest post author:

Senior executive Anita Brady is the President of, a leading provider of a high variety of quality items like business cards, fancy letterhead and other materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.