Workaholism Leads to Mental and Physical Health Problems: Work Addiction Risk Depends on Occupation
Workaholism or work addiction risk is a growing public health concern that can lead to many negative mental and physical health outcomes such as depression, anxiety or sleep disorder. Perception of work (job demands and job control) may become a major cause of employees’ work addiction. The international group of researchers including the HSE University scientist explored the link between work addiction risk and health-related outcomes using the framework of Job Demand Control Model. The results were published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Workaholics are people who usually work seven and more hours more than others per week. There are potential reasons for that: financial problems, poor marriage or pressure by their organization or supervisor. What can differentiate a workaholic behaviour from similar behaviour like work engagement? Workaholism is also known as a behavioural disorder, which means the excessive involvement of the individual in work when an employer doesn’t require or expect it.
The scientists aimed to demonstrate the extent to which the work addiction risk is associated with the perception of work (job demands and job control), and mental health in four job categories suggested by Karasek’s model or Job Demand-Control-Support model (JDCS). The JDCS model assumes four various work environments (four quadrants) in which workers may experience a different level of job demands and job control: passive, low-strain, active, and tense/job-strain. Job control is the extent to which an employee feels control over doing work.
- Passive” jobs (low job control, low job demands) might be satisfying to a worker as long as the workers reach the set goal.
- Low strain” jobs have high job control and low job demands. Individuals in this category are not particularly at risk of mental health problems, and it corresponds typically to creative jobs such as architects.
- Active” workers have high job demands and high job control. They are highly skilled professionals with responsibilities, such as heads or directors of companies. Those highly skilled workers have very demanding tasks but they have high levels of decision latitude to solve problems.
- Finally, workers at risk of stress-related disorders are those within the “job strain” group (high demand and low control). For example, healthcare workers from emergency departments are typically in job strain because they cannot control the huge workload.
The study was conducted in France because it is one of the industrial countries with growing numbers of occupations. The authors of the research collected data from 187 out of 1580 (11.8%) French workers who agreed to participate in a cross-sectional study using the WittyFit software online platform. The self-administered questionnaires were the Job Content Questionnaire by Karasek, the Work Addiction Risk Test, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale and socio-demographics. The authors of this study divided all the participants based on their occupational groups and investigated the link between work addiction risk and mental and physical health outcomes.
Assistant Professor at the HSE Institute of Education
‘One of the novelties of this research was to introduce vulnerable occupational groups to organizations or job holders. For example, if we find that work addiction risk can be found more in some occupations and may result in negative outcomes for the health situation then we can give this information to decision makers in this organization or, for example, to the ministry of health. And they could intervene to prevent this problem.’
The results show that high job demands at work are strongly associated with work addiction risk but the job control level does not play the same role. The prevalence of work addiction risk is higher for active and high-strain workers than for passive and low-strain workers. These two groups of workers appeared to be more vulnerable and therefore can suffer more from the negative outcomes of work addiction risk, in terms of depression, sleep disorder, stress and other health issues.
‘We found that job demands could be the most important factor that can develop work addiction risk. So this factor should be controlled or should be investigated by the organization's manager, for example, HR staff, psychologists. Also another conclusion could be the job climate like job demands of each job category can influence the rate of work addiction risk. Thus in this study we actually focused on external factors like job demands not internal factors like the personal characteristics,’ adds Morteza Charkhabi.
The researchers found that people with higher work addiction risk compared to people with low work addiction risk have twice the risk of developing depression. Sleep quality was lower to workers with high risk of work addiction compared to workers with low risk of work addiction. Also women had almost twice the work addiction risk than men.
Sociology today distinguishes more developmental stages of growing up than just childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, as commemorated in Leo Tolstoy’s trilogy Childhood, Boyhood, Youth. For the past two decades, sociologists have been exploring the concept of emerging adulthood, a transitional stage that occurs between adolescence and early adulthood. Researchers at the HSE Institute of Education have discovered that in Russia, one out of every two young respondents, with females more frequently than males, falls within the emerging adult category. The study findings have been published in Emerging Adulthood.
News avoidance is a global phenomenon that affects millions of people around the world. Despite their conscious refusal to consume media content, many argue that the most important news still finds them. Researchers at the HSE Laboratory for Studies in Economic Sociology have studied how people perceive the ‘news-finds-me’ effect. The results of the study were published in the Bulletin of Moscow University.
Researchers from HSE University have analysed why people feel happier when they help others. It turns out that joy is caused by different reasons, depending on who we help — relatives or strangers. In both cases, happiness brings moral satisfaction from doing a good deed, but helping loved ones is also associated with satisfying the need for belonging and acceptance, while helping strangers provides a sense of autonomy. The results of the research were published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.
Although there is a larger percentage of drinkers among high-status professionals and executives compared to low-status workers, the former consume less alcohol. This is one of the findings of a study carried out by researchers of the HSE Faculty of Economic Sciences and published in Voprosy Statistiki.
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On August 4, 2023, a pre-defence of the thesis on ‘Refugee-Host Community Conflict over Assimilation, Integration, and State Legitimacy: The Case of Rohingyas in Bangladesh’ by Md. Reza Habib will be held at HSE University. The preliminary defence will take place at a joint meeting of the HSE School of Sociology and the International Laboratory for Social Integration Research. Md. Reza Habib shared his experience of studying and preparing his PhD with the HSE News Service.
Economists and sociologists who study alcohol consumption patterns often link them to people's living conditions and human capital such as education, work experience, and knowledge. Researchers of the HSE Laboratory for Labour Market Studies and the HSE Laboratory for Studies in Economic Sociology have found that non-cognitive skills developed in childhood and adolescence can have a major effect on the likelihood of alcohol abuse later in life and can diminish the role of education in this respect. The paper has been published in the Journal of Comparative Economics.
Using a multidimensional approach, sociologists from HSE University have identified some vulnerable categories of the population that have rarely been the focus of research on poverty. According to their calculations, pensioners and people with disabilities also fall into the ‘poor’ category. The study was published in the Russian Journal of Economics.
An international team including HSE researchers has conducted the largest ever cross-cultural study of appearance-enhancing behaviours. They have found that people worldwide spend an average of four hours a day on enhancing their beauty. Caring for one's appearance does not depend on gender, and older people worry as much about looking their best as the young do. The strongest predictor of attractiveness-enhancing behaviours appears to be social media usage. The study findings have been published in Evolution and Human Behaviour.
Sociologist Valeria Kondratenko used data from the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey-HSE (RLMS-HSE) to demonstrate that the percentage of young Russians aged 14 to 22 who consume alcohol decreased by 2.3 times from 62.1% to 26.9% between 2006 and 2019. This paper also explores the correlation between the alcohol consumption habits of children and those of their parents. A paper with the findings of this study has been published in the Bulletin of RLMS–HSE.
Researchers of the HSE Laboratory for Comparative Social Research (LCSR), jointly with colleagues from research centres in Germany, Australia and China, examined the relationship between national variations in obesity rates and cultural dimensions. The associations they found were tested empirically through analyses conducted across 51 countries worldwide. Individualism appears to be associated with a higher prevalence of obesity, but only in the male population. The study findings have been published in Social Science & Medicine.