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Have a Workaholic on Your Team? Here's Why You Need to Address It.

By Maurie Backman – Mar 6, 2019 at 3:06AM

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It's one thing to work hard, but it's another thing to go overboard. And when one employee does it, others might feel the pressure to follow suit.

Some employees are more driven than others by nature. And while it's nice to have folks on your team who strive for results and constantly push themselves to do the best job possible, there's a danger in having a true workaholic in the mix. If you have an employee who never seems to manage to unplug, it pays to address the issue -- before it hurts your team's morale.

The problem with workaholism

You might think that having a workaholic on your team would be a positive thing. After all, if your other employees see how much of an effort that person is putting in, they might aim to follow suit, thereby improving your team's productivity and making you look good.

But it's not so simple. When you have one person on your team who never seems to call it quits, your other employees might feel pressured to work more for the sake of keeping up -- not necessarily because there's an actual need for it. And the last thing you want is for your team on a whole to start working long hours for the sake of face time. Doing so can quickly destroy any semblance of work-life balance they might've otherwise had, thereby creating a situation where they're all at risk of burning out.

Woman working at computer at night


A better solution, therefore, is to encourage your workaholic employee to take things down a notch. Sit that person down and explain that while you appreciate his or her effort, you don't want a burnout situation on your hands. You can also emphasize the fact that you value actual output more than time spent in a chair, and that you're not the kind of manager who expects workers to always be on.

Having that same conversation with your remaining employees is important, too. You don't want them to think that workaholism is the gold standard in your book. Rather, let them know that the effort they've historically made is not only appropriate, but much appreciated.

Finally, make a point of leading by example. Make an effort to leave the office on time several evenings a week, and when your employees email you after-hours about non-urgent matters, respond in the morning during regular work hours. This way, they'll hopefully get the message that logging on late at night isn't necessary as a matter of course, but rather, is a habit that should be reserved for emergencies only.

Your job as a manager is to do everything in your power to keep your team's morale at a healthy level, so don't let a lone employee with workaholic tendencies bring other people down or place undue pressure on them to work harder than necessary. If you make it clear that that behavior does not, in any way, align with your expectations, then you'll lower your chances of having your team fall victim to burnout. And who knows? You might even change your resident workaholic's life for the better.

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