Workaholism and health

Lynley H.W. McMillan (Department of Psychology, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)
Michael P. O'Driscoll (Department of Psychology, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Publication date: 1 October 2004


It is generally believed that workaholics tend to deny the existence of fatigue and push themselves beyond reason before physical complaints stop them working and lead them to seek help. However, while self‐neglect is believed to be a hallmark of workaholism, empirical data are both scant and contradictory. This study explores whether workaholics experience poorer health status than other (non‐workaholic) employees. Two groups of respondents (46 workaholics, 42 non‐workaholics) completed the workaholism battery‐revised and the rand SF‐36 at two measurement points across six months. While workaholics reported slightly poorer social functioning, role functioning and more frequent pain, they reported similar vitality, general health and psychological health to non‐workaholics. Importantly, differences between groups were small and failed to reach statistical significance. Given the substantial body of data supporting the SF‐36 and the present six‐month replication, it appears that workaholism may be less toxic to personal health and well‐being than at first thought. Implications for organisational and human resource management, including equal employment opportunities for workaholics, are discussed.



McMillan, L. and O'Driscoll, M. (2004), "Workaholism and health", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 17 No. 5, pp. 509-519.

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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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