More Engagement is the Answer to Workaholism

Are you chained to your desk?“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  ~Confucius


More Engagement is the Answer to Workaholism

Conventional wisdom suggests that being a workaholic is bad for you and also bad for your company.  And for many, that is the case.

But not for all.  New research, reported in the LA Times has found that some workaholics not only don’t perish, but flourish.

Are you a “good” or “bad” workaholic?

Are you chained to your desk?

Are you chained to your desk?

Classic workaholics, (that is the “bad” one, in case you are wondering) have an inner compulsion to work hard, self-identify with its outcome — positive or negative — and their self-esteem depends on it.  (See the Infographic below for more info about the classic workaholic and what to do about it.)

Whereas the “engaged” workaholic, is driven to keep working at intensely high energy levels out of a love of the job.  So why does that make it OK?  The difference seems to be the engaged workaholic doesn’t experience the high level of stress that the classic workaholic does.  Engagement serves as a healthy buffer to the stress that typically accompanies workaholism.

“Put differently,” the researchers write, “classic workaholics are ‘pushed’ to their work, whereas engaged workaholics are ‘pulled’ to their work.”

The Gallup Poll has been studying worker engagement for the last 10 years.  They have found that only a quarter of workers are engaged, 55% are not engaged (just putting in time) and 19% are actively disengaged (unhappy and spreading discontent).

The bottom line:  Whether you are a workaholic or not, increasing your engagement is worth the effort, increasing your productivity and protecting you from the stress of the job.  The Gallup poll’s research has found that a key to work engagement is the extent that you use your strengths on the job.  In fact, people who operate from their strengths are six times more likely to be engaged in their role.

Would you like to know what your strengths are and how you can use them to be more engaged and productive?  Email to get a free Strengthsfinder assessment and coaching session to learn how you can leverage your strengths.

Coaching Questions to Ask Yourself:  Do you feel like work is a grind and that it is an uphill push?  What would you need to do to relieve your stress at work?  What would you need to do to feel that more of your time at work was spent in engaging and stimulating activities?  What price are you paying for not being fully engaged?

P.S.  Thanks in advance to anyone who chooses to add their comments to the discussion or wishes to forward the blog link!


Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach, BCC




Your Mojo Maven

Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Board Certified Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US.   Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry.  She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves.  Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, BCC, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment and Leadership at the USC School of Social Work Virtual Academic Center.

BCC Board Certified Coach #1487


Workaholism may be killing you









(click for a larger version)




  1. Sharon Sayler on March 13, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Dear Lynn
    Thank you for offering Finding Your Strengths, once we find our strengths our passions become evident. I’ve found those that are engaged workaholics are often ‘mission-driven.’

    Because I’m so passionate, irrationally passionate as friends might say about connecting with others through respect-fill communication both verbal and nonverbal; I have made the in-depth understanding of communication and relationships my lifelong commitment.

    This passion, this internal drive is not work to me. It is my own private journey of service, personal mastery, happiness … and beyond … that I have been fortunate enough to make a career of.

    Enjoying the adventure

    • Executive Coach on March 14, 2012 at 11:53 am

      Sharon, I think you are right, that when you are engaged you truly are working from your mission and your purpose. You describe so well how someone that is engaged is able to work hard (ahem, be a workaholic) and not feel anything but joy from the effort. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful personal experience!

  2. Christina M. Weber, MS on March 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    This is so true. I have gone from working part-time to full-time plus with the addition of my business the Catholic Woman’s Guide. However, it doesn’t fell like “work” because I enjoy it much. Now if I could apply what Lynn is saying to getting my housework done, I would be in business!
    -Christina M. Weber, MS

  3. Neha on March 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Hello Dr Jones,

    That is such an interesting topic. I always desired to be workaholic (which to me meant having a full time job, FINALLY!!) But I have also noticed that I can never work a job that I am being pushed to do. I always try to find something exciting to do no matter what job it is. As a tutor,it was the joy of hearing from students crediting me for their good grade in a test and as an after school program part-time assistant, it is about finished up my projects prior to deadline (considering we started with the program being months past deadline and totally unorganized). That I guess is my Engaged working habits. Overtime, I have been risking to say “yes” to job that do not appeal to me but I usually push myself to do it stating there’s always some good in no matter what you do professionally. You just have to find it. I always look forward nervously to a new job and trying to fit in while meeting my goals and own self-satisfied excitement of coming back the next day.

    • Executive Coach on March 14, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Neha, You make an excellent point. We may be in a job that we are “pushed” to rather than “pulled” to, but we can still potentially discover things about that job where we can find engagement and use our strengths. That is the beauty of the StrengthsFinder assessment. When we are able to discover our strenghs and apply them, research shows that the push job is not as stressful. All the best to you in your job! I know that it has been a long search and I applaud your willingness to say “yes” and find how you can make a contribution that is meaningful to you!
      Dr. Jones

  4. Calla Gold on March 14, 2012 at 7:30 am

    I’ve been called a workaholic, but I get great pleasure from my achievements. I really liked reading this new research. It is very intuitive to how I’ve felt.
    Sure sometimes I feel it’s too much and I back off and do something else and come back to my work.
    Thanks for this Dr. Jones!
    Workaholic Jeweler and Proud!
    Calla Gold

    • Executive Coach on March 14, 2012 at 11:59 am

      Hi Workaholic Jeweler and Proud,
      We’re all coming out of the closet now that we know that their is an upside to workaholism! 🙂 I know that you are doing what you love and that so many people benefit from your expertise and ability to leverage your strengths as a personal jeweler!

  5. Tasha Morton on March 14, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Very interesting…I’d like to see more research which include the effects on interpersonal relationships. As with any addiction (and I include “healthy” addictions), I think it’s pertinent to examine the unconscious motivation that drives the fixation. Simply, what is the person avoiding?

    Love the Confucius quote you added….it reminds me of one of my favorite songs “Love the life you live, live the life you love”. One’s work should be meaningful and engaging….it’s an integral aspect of caring for one’s soul. Also, I really like the “push/pull” way of framing the attraction. I’m going to try it out with some of my clients.

    Thanks, Mojo Maven!!!

    • Executive Coach on March 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      Hi Tasha,
      That is an interesting question. It would make sense that the engaged workaholic would still experience some consequences in their interpersonal relationship even though they are not suffering the stress of the job that accompanies the classic workaholic. That made me think about “Workaholic Jeweler and Proud” commenter above. I’d be curious if she had some thoughts about that, but my hunch is that she would say that her interpersonal relationships haven’t been impacted.

      Love to know how your clients respond to thinking about their jobs from the push/pull perspective!

      Mojo Maven

  6. corporate bureaucrat on March 14, 2012 at 10:43 am

    The accompanying info graphic shows Greece as one of the hardest working nations, but we read that it is failing because the Greeks take life too easy. Curious.

    • Executive Coach on March 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      I noticed that too. My guess is that it is part of the culture that Greeks take life to easy but isn’t true anymore, if it ever was.

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