The work culture of any corporate enterprise differs, and there are factors like the industry concerned, whether it is privately owned or state owned, and many other such variables. The policies they follow, the brand they wish to establish are all elements which determine a company’s work culture.
Workaholic and workaholism are some words which have of late entered the professional vocabulary. And the phenomenon is something that has entered in the corporate culture, regardless of the policies, though obviously not in equal degrees.
Firstly, it is necessary to understand the difference between a workaholic and someone who works extensively for long hours.
A workaholic is a person with a compulsive need to work. Simply put, he or she just cannot “switch off”. Even when not working, this person can only think about work and work-related things. Personal relationships and health often suffer because of this compulsion.
On the other hand, someone might work for extremely long hours. But if he or she is able to disconnect and not constantly think about work when not on the job, we can’t consider this person a workaholic.
Even if one loves the job, it is necessary to cut off for some time.
We must realise that the blame should not be put on the person concerned.
Over the years, the corporate culture has shaped up in a certain way.
Firstly, with technology becoming mainstream and almost a necessity, it has become easier to “carry” work around. One can just open up a laptop and do what they were doing in the office. This way, it becomes difficult to “switch off” since work and work-related things are literally within an arm’s reach and just a few clicks away, anytime.
Coupled with this, imagine the need we are constantly force-fed with: the need to be productive.
Not just of the corporate culture, but a general characteristic of our times is the need to constantly “do” something.
Anything that doesn’t give you stress and workload gets considered useless.
“What’s the point of working if you are not busy all the time?” seems to be the misleading policy so many live by.
It is necessary to remember that a busy worker is not necessarily a productive worker.
Long working hours are not to be equated with productive working hours.
20th century saw the rise of the workaholic culture, with more and more people acting like “working machines”. And these were the role models the 21st century generations have access to. The rise in social media addictions did not work very well into the mix. Add to it, the success which could be “seen” sells on social media. And unfortunately, “the grind” has become a tangible marker of such a success, and also the only road to success.
Bad health, personal relationships suffering are only considered as part and parcel of this grind, or worse, mere obstacles to “success”.
In such a milieu, it is a tough job to not become a workaholic.
It is a good sign that many countries, especially the European ones are now reducing the work hours of employees to ensure there is a work-life balance, Denmark being a famous example. According to the OECD Better Life report, they have a better work-life balance than any country, with majority of workers spending two thirds of their day in eating, sleeping and indulging in leisurely pursuits.
It is necessary that companies take steps to bring changes in the corporate culture to ensure overall well-being of employees.
The image of a “driven and ambitious” person, motivated to rise to the top of the corporate ladder, with all the focus in the world on the job, no matter what may come, actually comes with its costs and risks. The crisp formal attire, might hide cardiovascular and stress-induced chronic ailments.
Behind the calm, confident, controlled expressions on the face may lie missed birthday parties and parent-teacher meetings, unresolved issues with a loved one, half-hearted family outings with the mind being at work, exasperated by the “waste of time”.