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7 signs you’re addicted to work

With smartphones, computers and apps at our fingertips, we’re able to maintain a constant connection to our work.

In theory, these tools should make our workdays shorter and more efficient, but constant distractions and the inability to disconnect can lead to longer work hours and less to show for it.

As technology makes it increasingly easy to push beyond the nine to five, Lucinda Pullinger, global head of HR at Instant Offices explores how workers can recognise the difference between committed working habits and work addiction.

A study from The Australian Productivity Commission estimates that absenteeism costs employers around $4.7 billion annually, while presenteeism costs way more at $6.1 billion. Research by Harvard Business Review shows that the average CEO works 62.5 hours a week – around 21.3 hours above the global baseline of 41.2 hours.

According to the Bergen Work Addiction Scale, replying “often” or “always” to at least four of the following seven criteria may indicate a work addiction:

1. You think of how you can free up more time to work.
2. You spend much more time working than initially intended.
3. You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression.
4. You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
5. You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
6. You deprioritise hobbies, leisure activities and exercise because of your work.
7. You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.

Impact on employees

Work-obsessed CEOs run the risk of creating a company culture in which presenteeism reigns. As opposed to being absent from work, presenteeism leads to employees having lower productivity while at work. They’re also likely to feel judged according to how many hours they sit at their desks rather than the quality of their output. This can lead to burnout, unhappiness and increased health issues, which end up impacting both company and employee negatively in the long run.

Impact on business growth

CEOs who work too hard may have trouble delegating effectively or even end up micromanaging teams, which can lead to a bottleneck in the company. It also sends the message to employees that they’re not trusted or talented enough to meet expectations, which can cause tension and unhappiness.

In a Harvard Business Review study of 27 CEOs over three months, time management proved the greatest challenge for most, while email usage was the top interrupter of the day. Leaders in the same study spent 72 per cent of their time in work meetings, with the average meeting length being one hour.

One of the biggest time wasters for employees is distraction at work. Around 60 per cent of employees say meetings are a big distraction that impact productivity, according to Udemy, ultimately leading to longer hours spent working.