Article by Marylin Perioli - Viva:

Work addiction: a social phenomenon?

Surfing the Internet, being present on social networks, checking emails at any time of the day or night... can quickly become addictive, especially if the work is of paramount importance, or even if it is the sole source of pleasure. Interview with Olivier Brosseau, business coach for the firm Lact (Paris). 

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What is work addiction?

An addiction is a relationship of dependence that is more or less alienating for the individual and often rejected by the latter's environment. It can be linked to a product but also to a practice such as work. It is an addiction to action that pushes you to always do more and that leads to making work the only axis of your life and gives a feeling of omnipotence. You feel like you have everything under control. At the start, there is often a fear: fear of disappointing, of not being up to it, or desires such as those of being efficient, heroic... The economic context and work culture can push the individual to do more. Working a lot has rather positive connotations, unlike other addictions. I think work addiction has always existed but today everything is going faster with new technologies. The tension is everywhere.

What are the signs of work addiction?

It is often the entourage who rings the alarm bell and notices that the days start earlier and earlier and end later and later, that the person is always connected, on weekends, on vacation... the individual comes to neglect the extra-professional life, his family, his couple. This can lead to conflicts. At work, the employee can isolate himself, which can create tensions or even conflicts within the work team.

The consequences can be serious on health: sleep disorders, overwork, development of stress, anxiety disorders with a risk of evolution towards a syndrome of professional exhaustion (burn out).

How to get rid of it?

To free yourself from compulsive pleasure, it is necessary to add other little pleasures every day that can satisfy our senses. For example: playing music, sports...

At work, when the personnel manager is alerted (he can be alerted by the occupational physician), he can help the team to reorganize the work. And if the problem concerns only one employee: encourage him not to “do more” but to “do better”. The employee is then received in an individual interview.

If this concerns an entire department, action must be taken to reorganize the workload and rethink the jobs of each. But the best thing is to act preventively on better communication (between teams and between employees) and the quality of life at work.

The employee can also undertake personal work with a psychotherapist.