Are You Promoting Work Engagement, or Workaholism?

All business organizations want their employees to be highly involved in their work (which is also known as Work Engagement), but not obsessive-compulsive about it (a.k.a. Workaholism).

Unchecked workaholism can eventually lead employees to burnout, inclinations to leave the company, 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? In “The Differences Between Work Engagement and Workaholism, and Organizational Outcomes: An Integrative Model,” author Youngkeun Choi offers some guidance.

Knowing The Difference

While at work, truly engaged employees tend to be positive, dedicated, and absorbed in their work (Schaufeli et al, 2002).

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, distrusting of their coworkers, and often suffer from poorer mental and physical health.

Encouraging Work Engagement

So what can a business organization do to encourage healthy levels of Work Engagement?

The best solution is to provide job resources for its employees. In this article, Choi found that both social support from colleagues and supervisory coaching have a positive impact on Work Engagement, leading to employees who 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.

Discouraging Workaholism

What can an organization do to discourage Workaholism among its employees?

Perhaps not surprisingly, the solution is the same: Provide job resources. According to Choi’s research, when ample job resources were available, fewer characteristics of workaholism were reported, regardless of the demands of the job.

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