At 34 and with a one-and-a-half-year-old son he only saw sleeping, Javier never worked less than 15 hours a day … and on weekends, “well, there was always something to do.”

This accountant enjoyed a group of colleagues almost as hardworking as he did, 70,000 euros a year and a month’s vacation, almost always less. “We were at a delicate moment with the merger and if everyone left who would be responsible for closing the year?”

Without a doubt, Javier was a workaholic. Unnecessarily he doubled the day, he had left his family, he had become despotic, morose, he lacked humor. And what drew his attention to the issue before his wife proposed his divorce was the abdominal pain and chronic fatigue he was suffering from.

kill you at work

That Karoshi (death from overwork), kills 10,000 Japanese annually. A problem so serious that the Japanese government has been forced by law to force its citizens to take 15 days of annual vacation.

A disease that is claiming its first victims in Spain, although not yet fatal. More and more employees are suffering from workaholism here. They are the ravages of a pathology that could become the biggest workplace epidemic of the 21st century.

Difficult to diagnose. workaholism (workaholic, in English) is a recent pathology. how it happened to him mobbingwe have to wait until extremely serious cases emerge for the health authorities to consider this relevant.

In Spain, apart from some research experience, there are no official numbers or statistics on this addiction. This is because the diagnosis is never immediate, it is usually preceded by the identification of another similar addiction, chronic fatigue, depression,…

This pathology – cataloged in the group of diseases of because the person concerned always denies it – he attacks great workers, people who enjoy their job. According to the most important specialists in work psychology, it is people who find more satisfaction in work success than in any other context.

a very broad profile

There is no defined profile of a workaholic, and characteristics may vary from one to another. You could say that it mainly affects freelancers, more young people than middle-aged people and more women than men.

It is less easy for them to implement alternative resources because they still combine work and family. But above all, they are narcissistic and insecure. And they have a certain genetic predisposition.

People with high self-esteem or very insecure people who need praise for their work. When you have an overrated idea of ​​yourself, your work often supports your personality and self-esteem.

Freelancers usually have very high professional and personal expectations of their work. Medicine, law, journalism or politics are areas with good recruitment of addicts. The housewife is a special type of this risk profile. Home is a toxic medium that they never part with.

As with other addictions, dedication to work serves as a defense mechanism. It is a pathological attachment to devotion to work to avoid internal conflicts or to compensate for other external conflicts. The person at work is motivated and relaxed, escaping situations they cannot control and taking refuge in their addiction. Although he will deny it.

at the top of Europe

Although it is not yet as severe in Spain as it is in Japan, damage is increasing. Between the ages of 30 and 50 there is the highest peak of addiction, vaguely between men and women and with greater abundance in the middle classes. From middle management to senior management.

However, the situation is about to reverse. According to a study, Spain is the country in the European Union with the highest rate of workaholics and, paradoxically, at the same time the least productive.

The regions where they best understand the balance between leisure and work are Aragón and La Rioja, while Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Galicia, Extremadura and the two Castiles host the most workaholics.

And it is that our country tends to be disorderly. Rest and leisure are examples that transform Spain into a mini laboratory of bad habits that can be exported to other destinations where Spanish companies are present.

Prevent instead of cure

One-offs are the most common. Above all, stress prevention techniques and specific training. They deliver good results workshops or emotional competence workshops. They improve social skills, teach how to reduce work pressure and pace, show how to balance work and private life and at the same time promote confidence in one’s own abilities. From a personal point of view, career planning after a self-analysis of strengths, weaknesses and interests – according to the degree of addiction achieved – achieves similar results.

support in the company. Through targeted audits, the company recognizes the problem as legitimate and can support the addict. Eliminate excessive working hours, guarantee flexible working hours, pay attention to time distribution, do not reinforce heroic behavior (such as 50 or 60 hours a week or more), increase part-time work and schedule sporting activities. That means creating anti-addiction measures from day one of working life.

In Spain, the Employee Assistance Programs (PAE), which prioritize the shared responsibility of workers and employers for health, safety and social issues and are designed for workers with alcohol problems, are used to combat stress and workaholism. In addition, a peer support group would include the employee.

society and family. Parents of workaholics often create a family environment that increases the likelihood of future dependencies. Therefore, group therapy is recommended. It is the dysfunctional family that provides the best information about the addict. Experts also recommend campaigns that warn against the increasing presence of this addiction in companies and make its consequences clear.

Are you a “workaholic”?

Answer the following questions honestly with YES or NO:

a. I feel guilty when I have nothing to do at work.

two. I am unable to refuse the demands of superiors and colleagues.

3. I have trouble prioritizing my work.

Four. I am continuously accelerated.

5. When I’m interrupted, I get impatient and irritable.

6. I have too many things at once.

7. I usually think about work when I’m not at the company.

8th. I’m one of the last to leave.

9. I feel guilty or depressed when I leave.

10 I’m scared when the holidays come.

eleven. I usually bring work home at weekends or during vacations.

12. I postpone my vacation or do without it without any problems.

13. I don’t mind working more hours than I should.

14 My family insists that I don’t work that hard.

fifteen. I usually compete with myself to get everything done in record time.

16 I find it impossible to relax when I’m working.

17 I can’t switch off during leisure activities.

18 I think I neglected family and friends because I worked so hard.

19 I think I have health problems because I work so much.

twenty. In my work, I commit to doing more things than I can.

twenty-one. I always strive to do everything perfectly in my work. My house is my second office.

22 I fight to be number one or the best at everything.

23 I fight to be number one or the best at everything.

24 My house is my second office.

25 I dedicate all my time and energy to work success.

By number of positive answers:

Less than 4: low probability. Between 4 and 7: slightly addictive. Between 8 and 15: Danger to your health. More than 16: high risk for your health.

Source: Neomanagement: Toxic Bosses and Their Victims. Inaki Pinuel. Grijalbo. Madrid, 2006

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