Every employer would like their workers to be as motivated as possible to perform duties, to get involved in the processes carried out and to treat the company’s success as their own. Yet, sometimes, you have to deal with individuals whose level of commitment is even unhealthily high and manifests itself in working overtime without clear instructions, taking on tasks that are not part of their duties or failing to maintain a work-life balance (such as writing emails from home).

The term that perfectly describes such people is “workaholic.” What is important is that more and more attention is paid to the negative consequences of such functioning both for the person in question and for other team members. How then should one interact with a person displaying such attitudes in the workplace?

How to cooperate with a workaholic? – table of contents:

  1. What makes workaholism detrimental?
  2. Workaholic – cooperation tactics
  3. Strategies for working with a workaholic – summary

What makes workaholism detrimental?

Although there are usually positive reasons behind it (the desire to prove oneself, show commitment, prove one’s worth as an employee), workaholism can lead to exhaustion of the individual – both in the physical and mental areas. Over time, days off and excessive responsibilities result in a lack of rest, which translates into poor well-being and lower productivity, even when theoretically “doing more.”

It’s also a quick path to professional burnout or significant health consequences (e.g., in the form of an autoimmune reaction of the body). At the same time, by spreading their anxieties and requiring others to exhibit the same attitudes, workaholics can have a negative influence on teammates or the company. As a result, one can expect lower productivity and job satisfaction, as well as an unwillingness to work with this type of person.

Workaholic – cooperation tactics

If you have a person on your team who clearly shows workaholic tendencies, you should react to the situation as soon as possible and implement practices that make them more cooperative and friendly. The tactics that bring you the best results are outlined below.

  1. Give up praising for overworking
  2. Do you know that your employee has completed several tasks, but through overtime and weekend work? Give up praising him for devoting his free time to complete company duties. After all, if you show every time that you greatly appreciate his dedication and commitment, you will only reinforce this type of behavior. The point, of course, is not to immediately chastise for the way he does his work, but to make the workaholic aware, through a slow process, that the way he functions is not healthy and will not be glorified in the presence of other members of your team.

  3. Set a good example
  4. If you’re a manager or team leader, you’ve certainly had times when you’ve carried out responsibilities after hours, over the weekend or on vacation. Of course, the importance of these tasks and other topics may have been so high that you could not postpone their completion.

    However, don’t show your employees that you’re available on a shared instant messenger at night, don’t send emails on the weekend (you can schedule an 8:00 a.m. dispatch for Monday) and don’t give comments on shared tasks on vacation. This is because such behavior can result in the belief that employees should behave as they do, which will reinforce unhealthy emotional involvement in work. A good example from the top – a leader who is committed to work-life balance – is essential.

  5. Try to understand
  6. What makes a workaholic so anxious to do well at work? For what reasons does he perform his duties after hours, arriving first and leaving last? What drives him to make up work on the weekend? Getting to know the reasons behind such behavior is the first step on the road to significant change. Perhaps through a frank conversation, you will discover, for example, that work is an escape for the person in question, the only value in life, or a way to cope with an unworked trauma.

    Once you know the reasons, it will be easier for you to extend a helping hand and propose an appropriate strategy of action, which will consequently have a positive impact on both the employee in question and the entire team.

  7. Set boundaries
  8. Defining boundaries will be especially important if you see a workaholic transferring his behavior to other team members. For example, there may occur a situation when he or she requires a co-worker to complete a task in a short period, which would mean staying longer at work or completing duties over the weekend. You need to recognize that this type of incident has occurred and make the workaholic aware that such actions are not welcomed in your team. You may encounter resistance at first, but over time you can expect – eventually, they will accept the fact that workaholics cannot expect others to behave the same way.

Strategies for working with a workaholic – summary

Working with a workaholic in many cases can present difficulties for both the team leader and co-workers. Dealing with such a person requires implementing appropriate practices, examples of which we have discussed above. However, it is impossible to guarantee that they will provide the expected results, but they provide a good starting point for finding a solution to the problem. Still, keep in mind that the key is to convince the unhealthily engaged person that it’s not the number of hours but the quality of our work, final result and mental well-being that matter. That’s the only way to make real change and ease daily cooperation.

Read also: How to improve teamwork in your business in 2023?

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Author: Caroline Becker

As a Project Manager, Caroline is an expert in finding new methods to design the best workflows and optimize processes. Her organizational skills and ability to work under time pressure make her the best person to turn complicated projects into reality.