Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Work Addiction among Intercollegiate Sports Coaches

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Work Addiction among Intercollegiate Sports Coaches

Article excerpt

Work addiction, also called workaholism, is a condition in which the person, called a "workaholic," feels driven or compelled to work. Robinson (1998) defines workaholism as an "obsessive/compulsive disorder that manifests itself through self-imposed demands, an inability to regulate work habits, and overindulgence in work to the exclusion of most other life activities" (p. 7). The explanation for this incessant behavior is not because of external demands or pleasure in work, but because of inner pressures that make the person distressed or guilty about not working (Spence & Robbins, 1992). The reason a person's attitude about his or her work plays such an important role in determining work addiction is because workaholics tend to think about work even when they are not actually working; work is an obsession. This explanation lends credence to Machlowitz's (1980) claim that workaholism is an attitude towards working, rather than the number of hours worked, although Harpaz and Snir (2003) describe workaholics as persons who work more than 50 hours a week. The related literature is unequivocal, however, that workaholism is characterized as the absence of proper work/life balance (Burke, 2000).

According to Spence and Robbins (1992), workaholics display selected behavioral and thought patterns. These include engaging in work-related activities in place of personal time for leisure and relaxation, relationships with family members, and social activities. In addition, workaholics experience more stress, lower morale, and higher likelihood of burnout than their non-addicted counterparts. Work addiction, therefore, is a psychological condition that is typically viewed by clinical psychologists as undesirable, inefficient, dysfunctional (Burke, 2001), and usually psychopathological (Robinson, 2007).

Similar to other addictions, the work addicted individual is not usually aware of the negative consequences of this condition. This is because workaholics are so self-absorbed in their careers that they rarely notice their reduced ability to function productively; they are perfectionists and are often unable to delegate work tasks (Bonebright, Clay, & Ankenmann, 2000). Often, as a result, the work addict suffers from increased anxiety and depression, while often ignoring physical symptoms of illness or disease (Robinson, 2000). Work addiction has potentially serious consequences.

Rather than improving organizational and personal productivity work addicted employees may be more detrimental to their organizations than they are helpful. Between 1982 and 1990, for instance, workers' compensation claims increased by $37 million. This condition is partly attributed to increases in psychological and mental stress claims from overworked employees (Bordwin, 1996). Work addiction can also lead to death. The Japanese, for instance, have a term--karoshi--that defines the most serious consequence of work addiction, literally defined as "death from overwork" (Loehr & Schwartz, 2003, p. 41).

Robinson (1998, 2000) lists the following characteristics of workaholics: (1) are usually rushed for time and "hyper-busy," often multitasking; (2) have trouble delegating, primarily because they have a need for control; (3) are perfectionists; (4) minimize the importance of relationships with others; (5) have a need to overachieve; (6) are restless and lack fun in their lives; (7) are impatient and irritable; (8) judge themselves based on their last achievement; (9) experience memory loss of long conversations; and (10) have little time for self-care.

The work addiction literature includes different conceptual frameworks and typologies which are important to briefly review in attempting to explain whether a particular behavior pattern is or is not work addiction. One conceptual framework that describes a person's addiction to their work is called the workaholic triad (Spence & Robbins, 1992). The work triad consists of three independent components, the degree of work involvement, level of "driveness," and enjoyment of work. …

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