Are You Promoting Work Engagement or Workaholism?

All organizations want their employees to be highly engaged, but most would prefer that their employees do not become “workaholics.” Unchecked workaholism can eventually lead employees to burnout, turnover, and other behaviors that put good organizational citizenship at risk. But how can organization leaders spot the difference between healthy and unhealthy levels of work engagement, and encourage employees towards the former? New research (Choi, 2013) offers some guidance.


While at work, truly engaged employees tend to be positive, dedicated, and absorbed in their work. From previous research, we know that employees suffering from workaholism usually work excessively hard without finding any enjoyment in it. They tend to be perfectionists, distrust their coworkers, and often suffer from poor mental and physical health.


So what can an organization do to encourage healthy levels of work engagement? The best solution is to provide job resources for its employees. In this article, the author found that both social support from colleagues and supervisory coaching have a positive impact on work engagement. This leads employees to approach their jobs with more vigor, dedication, and absorption.

To the organization’s benefit, employees with greater work engagement more often reported that they didn’t intend to quit, and that they were more likely to help others and be a good organizational citizen.


What can an organization do to discourage workaholism among its employees? According to the author’s research, when ample job resources were available, fewer characteristics of workaholism were reported, regardless of the demands of the job.

The author concluded that providing resources such as performance feedback, supervisory coaching, and colleague support is the key to developing engaged workers who don’t fall into the trappings of becoming workaholics.

Choi, Y. (2013). The Differences Between Work Engagement and Workaholism, and Organizational Outcomes: An Integrative Model. Social Behavior and Personality, 41.