LONDON — Life is all about balance, and one of the most important balancing acts of any adult’s day-to day existence is separating work life and home life. Unfortunately, many modern workers just don’t know when to take a break — even if they’re home and the workday, for all intents and purposes, is over. That’s the main finding from a new survey of 2,000 British employees that found a staggering 40% just cannot stop working.
The survey, commissioned by SPANA, also found that many current employees (one in six) spend more than 11 hours a week focusing on their job while outside the office — typically by checking their emails or making calls.
Overall, almost half of those surveyed said they enjoy their work, but 65% said they hate their habit of constantly focusing on their job. Only three percent said they actually leave their office each day when their shift is supposed to end.
Other workaholic symptoms included never taking a lunch break, working on weekends, and consistently being the last employee to leave the office every day. Workaholics also often ignore their families, feel anxious when not focusing on work, and actually end up talking to their bosses more than their spouse!
“It’s clear workers in Britain have a strong work ethic and often put in long hours, going beyond the call of duty for their employers,” says SPANA chief executive Geoffrey Dennis in a statement.
According to the research, a third of British workers think they would be considered a workaholic by others, and a quarter of those polled have woken up in the middle of the night thinking anxiously about their job. It probably doesn’t help that one in five routinely check work emails in bed. Conversely, a third said they regularly check their emails first thing in the morning, 57% look at work projects/emails over the weekend, and 30% check work emails all throughout dinner time and the evening.
Incredibly, 10% even admitted that they had taken a work call at a wildly inappropriate time, including during a wedding, a funeral, or while having sex! One in five admitted they have no problem taking a work call or answering an email while they’re with their family.
Another 16% said they can’t eat a meal without checking their emails, and about 20% have suffered a health problem due to working too much. Overall, a third of those surveyed said they work beyond their contracted daily hours four to five days per week.
The reasons behind this puzzling behavior vary, according to respondent responses. Many workers said that they work beyond their contracted hours because of last-minute demands by their bosses, others cited seeking some peace of mind by finishing a particular task, and some said their employers routinely hand out unreasonable workloads.
Almost a quarter said they work overtime simply to avoid problems or confrontations with their boss, and 20% said that they prioritize their working life over their personal life.
Surprisingly, over 30% think the work they do is worth the personal sacrifices they make, while 25% said they would put their own health at risk to complete a work task. However, 66% said that when their health is impacted by a job, it’s gone too far.
Perhaps the most sobering statistic of all: In spite of all that extra effort, almost half of the respondents said they don’t think their extra work is going to benefit their career in any meaningful way.
Overall, the top five signs of a workaholic, according to respondents’ responses, were: never taking a lunch break, working over the weekend, always being the last to leave the office, working at night, and constantly checking work emails while watching TV.
The survey was conducted by OnePoll.