The actual problem of a modern working person is a hard-working, excessive professional loads, nervous strain. As a result – professional and emotional burnout, chronic depression, fatigue, apathy, indifference to life. Technological advances in the work environment have dynamically changed the tools with which work is done and the methods applied to do it. Much of today’s work is fast and sedentary in nature, that is, being done sitting in front of a computer screen. In their study, Engelbrecht et al. looked at the relationship between work intensity, workaholism, burnout, and musculoskeletal complaints (MSC).
Every organization is focused on making a profit, which directly depends on how productive employees can work for the organization. As such, employees are expected to contribute to their maximum potential without sufficient emphasis on the fact that strenuous work tasks and hours are detrimental to the health and well-being of employees. The authors argue that the propensity of organizations to constantly expand the responsibilities of employees, caused by technological progress, can lead to detrimental consequences for both the employee and the organization (Engelbrecht et al., 2019). For an employee, this can cause emotional burnout and diseases of the musculoskeletal system, and a decrease in productivity will affect the organization.
The seriousness of this problem is further underlined by the fact that the most technologically advanced countries face this problem much more frequently. Primarily the US and Japan found that 21.3% of Japanese and 10–15% of American government employees work 49 hours or more per week (Engelbrecht et al., 2019). This high percentage has detrimental health consequences for employees in the form of strokes, heart attacks, and suicides due to excessive work demands. This pandemic has been dubbed karoshi, which translates to ‘death from overwork,’ and killed 2,159 people by suicide in 2015 (Engelbrecht et al., 2019). Thus, workaholism is a widespread problem throughout the world and has consequences for the individual and society as a whole.
Engelbrecht et al. conducted their study because they considered it important to prove that the importance of employee health and well-being is undeniable and directly affects the efficiency and productivity of an organization. Therefore, the results of this study can help organizations gain a clearer understanding of the organization of the work environment by understanding how each of these structures affects the other. It will contribute to a healthier and ultimately more productive workforce. The workload is an aspect of work intensity and can be characterized as having more work than is realistically possible over a given period of time (Engelbrecht et al., 2019). The authors note that regardless of the position of the employee in the organization, a disproportionate workload can cause MSC.
The study was carried out at the South African Engineering Service; data collection was random and quantitative (a total of 398 participants). The authors explain the choice of the group by the fact that office workers spend more time in front of the computer screen, and due to the intense work industry, increased work intensity is expected (Engelbrecht et al., 2019). Since the authors worked with the same group of employees, design, and research can be called cross-sectional. A crossover study is a controlled trial in which each participant alternates in several groups of subjects.
Work intensity was measured as a latent variable, denoted by the combined mean score of perceived role overload and time, burnout, and physical health status. The organization had seven departments, each of which received questionnaires so that employees could take part in the study. After collecting all the data that made up the responses of approximately 69% of workers, the researchers conducted a statistical analysis (Engelbrecht et al., 2019). The authors also used the simulation method to demonstrate the research hypotheses’ confirmation visually.
As a result of the analysis, the researchers proved the relationship between work intensity, workaholism, burnout, and MSC. Workaholism had a significant positive association with MSC, indicating that employees with high workaholic behavior scores have a higher propensity to report MSC. It is also consistent with the theoretical block presented in the article, which the authors reviewed. Since workaholism is directly related to the intensity of a person’s work, due to the mental characteristics of a person, the likelihood of burnout, both in professional and in everyday life, increases. Professional burnout is becoming the main disease of workaholics today and is caused by a reassessment of one’s strengths.
The value of the study lies in the fact that awareness of the negative impact of the high intensity of work required of employees by organizations can help the sustainable development of companies. It will happen if measures are not taken to protect workers from workaholism, burnout, and MSC. Instead of encouraging long and hard-working hours as part of the organizational culture, the focus should be on a climate of growth and performance (Engelbrecht et al., 2019). That means using resources efficiently to get the best results with the least amount of effort.
Due to the increase in work intensity and job insecurity in recent years, many employees have to deal with high work rates, fixed deadlines, and insufficient time to complete their tasks. It may also be necessary to work hard, including evenings and weekends. However, some work beyond measure, not only for external needs or economic necessity but also because they feel obligated. Workaholism is considered one of many developed countries’ most common modern addictions. Some cultures value success and achievement and view work as a central aspect of life, necessary to be accepted in society, feel integrated, and gain freedom and personal independence. One way to speed up recovery is to separate work life from non-work life as much as possible, as recovery from work outside of work hours is critical to protecting people’s well-being.
Moreover, the longer a person accumulates internal stress, the brighter the burnout manifests itself. It is almost impossible for a person to cope with the syndrome that has manifested itself in full force alone. The pace of change today is so fast that situations of heightened stress and rapidly changing work environments have become the norm in every industry. The main danger of burnout syndrome is that it develops gradually and is imperceptible to many people. If one misses its first signs, then the feeling of job satisfaction will also gradually decrease, and the desire to quit everything will increase. That is why the studies that raise the topic of processing employees are important. In the article by Engelbrecht et al., the authors also give some recommendations for improving the working atmosphere, which will positively affect the fight against workaholism, which causes negative consequences, both psychological and physical.
Engelbrecht, G. J., Beer, L. T., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2019). The relationships between work intensity, workaholism, Burnout, and self‐reported musculoskeletal complaints. Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing & Service Industries, 30(1), 59–70. Web.