Are you always working, checking your email or PDA, or finding ways to “sneak” in a little extra work outside of the office? If you think you may be a workaholic, researchers in Norway and the UK have developed a new tool to measure your work obsession.
Announced on Tuesday, the new tool, dubbed the Bergen Work Addiction Scale, is reportedly a first-of-its-kind measuring stick based on seven basic criteria, all in an effort to help stressed-out workers get a handle on what could be a serious issue.
By testing themselves against the scale, employees can determine their degree of work addiction, such as non-addicted, mildly addicted or workaholic, said lead researcher Cecilie Schou Andreassen from the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Bergen Andreassen.
The test asks workers to reply to the following questions about work habits with “never,” “rarely,” “sometimes,” “often,” or “always”:
- You think of how you can free up more time to work.
- You spend much more time working than initially intended.
- You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression.
- You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
- You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
- You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work.
- You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
According to the study, scoring “often” or “always” on at least four of the questions puts you in the danger zone.
Research for the project included participation from 12,135 Norwegian employees from 25 different industries. The study appears in the upcoming issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology.
“A number of studies show that work addiction has been associated with insomnia, health problems, burnout, and stress as well as creating conflict between work and family life,” noted Schou Andreassen in a statement.
While most of Western culture prizes zealous work ethics and overachievements, being married to the job can have some serious health implications. In addition to suffering from higher rates of depression, anxiety, and psychosomatic symptoms such as stomachaches and headaches, workaholics are prime candidates for heart disease, according to research.
Plus, while a workaholic might seem like an employer’s fantasy — working late, coming in early, rarely taking vacations — the flip side is that workaholics often take on more work than “they can handle effectively, don’t delegate, aren’t team players, and are often more disorganized than their less compulsive colleagues,” notes Bryan E. Robinson, PhD, author of Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, Their Partners and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them in an interview with WebMD.
As with any addiction, admitting you have a problem is the first step. To learn more about how to get help or help a workaholic friend or family member find a Workaholics Anonymous meeting in your area (available online, phone and in-person) worldwide from Argentina to Slovenia, visit the official site: Workaholics-Anonymous.org.