Long and fast work, no relaxation in your free time, working on many projects at the same time – workaholic behavior is apparently no longer a marginal phenomenon in German companies. According to a study presented on Wednesday by the union-affiliated Hans Böckler Foundation in Düsseldorf, every tenth worker in Germany shows workaholic behavior. Managers in particular suffered disproportionately often from symptoms of workaholism.
For the study sponsored by the Böckler Foundation, employees of the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB) and the Technical University of Braunschweig evaluated the representative data of 8,000 employees. The data comes from the years 2017 and 2018 – i.e. the time before Corona. According to the study, 9.8 percent of the workers surveyed worked addictively. Another 33 percent worked excessively – but not compulsively. On the other hand, 54.9 percent of those in employment went about their jobs “calmly”.
Addictive work is therefore not a marginal phenomenon that only affects a small group of managers. In fact, excessive and compulsive work is widespread in all groups of workers, it said. People in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and horticulture tended most frequently to addictive work. The professional fields of computer science and natural sciences as well as geography, on the other hand, are “least affected” by the phenomenon.
Nevertheless, there is “a statistically highly significant connection” between addictive work and managerial responsibility. 12.4 percent of executives are workaholic, other employees only 8.7 percent. “Among managers, addictive work is also more pronounced the higher the management level is,” the study authors explained. The upper level has a share of 16.6 percent. In many corporate cultures, demands are made of managers that create “incentives for workaholic behavior”, the researchers suspect.
In addition, the size of the company and co-determination in the company have a strong connection with addictive work. In large companies, workaholism is apparently less common than in small companies. In companies with fewer than ten employees, 12.3 percent fall into the category of addicted workers, and 8.3 percent in companies with more than 250 employees. This could be due to greater regulation of work.
With around ten percent of workaholics, Germany achieves a value that is close to the results of similar studies from other countries. Researchers in the USA also came up with ten percent and in Norway with a good 8 percent. Out of the ordinary is South Korea, where a survey found the proportion to be nearly 40 percent, albeit with a slightly broader definition of workaholism.
In 1971, American psychologist Wayne Oates coined the term “workaholic” to describe how some people relate to their work the way addicts relate to alcohol.