Campus News

Psychologist describes increase in ‘workaholics’

Malissa Clark

Malissa Clark, associate professor and industrial/organizational psychologist in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ psychology department, discussed the new work/life balance among remote workers in an article from the Human Resources Director.

Clark’s research was used to officially define “workaholic,” a term first used by psychologist Wayne Oats in 1971. Being a workaholic includes:

  • Feeling compelled to work because of internal pressures.
  • Having persistent thoughts about work when not working.
  • Working beyond what is reasonably expected despite the potential of negative consequences.

Clark emphasized that being a workaholic is not the same as being highly motivated.

“One key difference between workaholism and work engagement is the motivations underlying these behaviors,” Clark said. “Whereas engaged workers are driven to work because they find it intrinsically pleasurable, workaholics are driven to work because they feel an inner compulsion to work – feelings that they ‘should’ be working.”

Workaholics are more common today than before with many employees pushed by the pandemic to become over-workers. The work-life balance became increasingly unattainable once work took place at home through remote meetings, constant emails and conference calls from your dining room.

Clark hopes that by educating employers, they can help their employees stay motivated without slipping into work obsession.