Research by Lynley McMillan at the University of Waikato is exploring the impact of workaholism on people, their families and their workplace.
“While most overseas studies found workaholics don’t appear to enjoy working, our research shows that they display two very strong characteristics – they enjoy what they do and they’re driven to keep on doing it,” says McMillan.
Workaholics work or think about work anytime and anywhere. They are still on the job after formal work hours, on laptop or mobile phone, in cars, planes and cafes.
It wouldn’t be unusual to find workaholic thinking about work while appearing to watch television or read book.
“We’ve found workaholism among factory staff, nurses, mechanical engineers and office workers, as well as managers, directors and business people.
“What’s more, the workaholics we’ve studied so far watch four hours less television per week and spend two and half more hours more on community and cultural activities than non-workaholics.”
Of 421 employees interviewed across five major companies, 50 workaholics and 50 non-workaholics will continue the research, keeping 24-hour diary for seven days, at two separate occasions over the next year.
These diaries are world first in workaholism research and will capture activities such as time allocated to sleeping, eating, working, travelling and shopping, says McMillan.
In another new variation on traditional research, participants’ partners will comment on the quality and intimacy of their relationship and how it’s affected by workaholism.
By early 2001 McMillan will have enough information to determine the impact of workaholism in New Zealand.
“We’ll be equipped for the first time to give employers, workaholics and their families constructive prescriptions for maximising the positive effects and minimising any negative effects of workaholism.
“This information will enable employers to manage work environments in way that benefits both workaholic employees, their colleagues and their families.”
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