One of the many—and we do mean many—downsides to the Great Recession came in the form of longer hours and more responsibility for workers who survived layoffs. When employees were let go, many companies didn’t also decrease the amount of work they needed done. Instead, they shifted that work to other employees.
Meanwhile, technology continued to burrow into the workplace. Where personal computers revolutionized offices 20 years ago, handheld devices are having the same effect today. The freedom to access e-mail, voicemail and every other work document from the smart phone or tablet means you never really leave work behind. Combine this technology with presume to put in more hours at the office and you have the ingredients for becoming a workaholic.
Workaholics are people who let work consume their lives. Either they’re doing work or thinking about it, even off the clock. While these work addicts are nothing new, they aren’t going away either—at least not before unemployment decreases. And a new CareerBuilder survey finds that 52 percent of workers now put in more than 40 hours per week and 14 percent work more than 50 hours.
Consider that 31 percent of workers bring home work at least once a week, and 10 percent bring work home with them a minimum of every other day.
Plus, even when workaholics aren’t bringing work home with them, they’re thinking about it.
- 24 percent of workers are thinking about work when they’re at home or being social
- 19 percent of workers have dreams about work
- 16 percent of workers are usually talking about work, even if they’re at home or having out with friends
Not surprisingly, all of this work has put some extra stress on workers:
- 51 percent of workers have seen their workloads increase over the last six months
- 27 percent of workers have no taken a personal or sick day in the last few years
- 26 percent of workers have experienced health issues directly related to job stress
And this workaholism doesn’t only affect the workers. Their personal lives are victims of omnipresent work, too.
- Because they’re always working, 22 percent of workers say they don’t have the time to pursue personal interests
- 12 percent of workers cite the amount of time they spend working as a cause of friction in the family
Some findings were just … well, troublesome. In the mind of many workers, home life has taken a backseat to the workplace.
- 15 percent of workers would rather be at work than at home
- 9 percent of workers are more concerned with approval from their bosses than from their families
Now, can you really blame any of these workers for taking their jobs more seriously than they might have a few years ago? Employment makes paying the bills possible, although some workers are underpaid and living paycheck to paycheck anyway. When the economy soured, many people cut back on eating out or started buying cheaper coffee, but they couldn’t eliminate paying the mortgage and car insurance. The pressure to stay afloat financially was and still is very real.
Still, talking to someone who has one eye on her BlackBerry during dinner remains annoying. Or having your spouse hold up his index finger to tell you to hold on while he finishes typing a work e-mail mid-conversation doesn’t feel good, regardless of the economy’s state. Workaholics existed before the recessions and they’ll be around forever. All that really matters is how respectful they are of the people in their lives.
Are you a workaholic or do you have workaholics in your life? Did the economic struggles of the past few years make you more likely to take your work home with you (both literally and figuratively)? Let us know.