Yehuda Baruch, a professor at Rouen Business School in France, says that addiction to work (workaholism) could benefit individuals, business and society. In a recent academic paper he likens work addiction to a chocolate addiction and concludes that it can increase self-esteem and strengthen social interactions.
In the article, published in Career Development International, Baruch writes that literature on workaholism portrays it as a negative addiction, associated with high levels of stress at work and home and interfering with work-life balance. But empirical research also shows that workaholism’s hallmarks are vigour and dedication – positive constructs that are the opposites of exhaustion and cynicism.
Baruch likens work addiction to a chocolate addiction. He claims there are some health benefits to be gained by eating chocolate: it energises people and generates a good feeling. Similarly, workaholics are energised by their work and their accomplishments reinforce a sense of well-being. Using this as a metaphor, unless workaholic employees cause significant damage to their health, it may be best to leave it to them to decide how much work they are willing to carry out.
Furthermore, he argues that workaholism can bring intrinsic rewards, particularly when the work is done for a ‘good cause’. It can also strengthen social interactions and result in higher pay and promotions which, in turn, raises self-esteem.
Comment: It’s probably only fair to explore the social and cultural aspects of workaholism from a balanced – rather than an inherently negative – viewpoint but, if there was ever a forced choice, I think I’d prefer to experience chocoholism.