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Workaholics: Understanding
and Changing Work-Addicted
Behavior 1
Americans are among the most work-obsessed people in the world.
American workers use 2 days less of annual vacation time than they are
given, often feeling, with considerable evidence, that taking a vacation
gives a negative message to employers. American workers have less vaca-
tion time and far less maternity leave and sick leave than their European
counterparts. They also work a longer week than Europeans, where the
average is 35 hours per week compared with 40 in the US. The pressure
on workers to produce, to put in an increasing number of hours, and to
stay late in a pressure cooker atmosphere of produce or be downsized,
has resulted in an increasing number of workaholics, often not by their
own choice.
Linn (2009) reports that a combination of good health, inability to
deal with spare time, continued interest in their jobs, economic necessity,
and the other rewards of work are pushing some Americans to stay in the
workforce long past traditional retirement age. Approximately 7% of peo-
ple age 75 or older were in the labor force as of June, 2009—up from 5%
a decade ago. That translates into more than 1.1 million people working
past age 74—up from 750,000 a decade ago.
Griffiths (2005) writes that “the most obvious sign that someone is a
workaholic is when work and work-related concerns preoccupy a person's
life to the neglect of everything else in it. What starts out as love of work
Portions of this chapter first appeared in the senior author's book on workaholics in retirement
( Glicken, 2010 ).
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