Mini-Bars in Cubicles & Horse Racing in the Break Room?

We are not without dysfunction. In light of many variables involved in our nature/nurture make-up we lean toward destructive encounters. Some of these dysfunctions have become more formalized than others and are worked out in official 12-step groups, with Alcoholics Anonymous being the pioneer in this field. They have been joined by those who chronically abuse other substances (nicotine, narcotics, heroin, cocaine, etc.) as well as Clutterers, Food Addicts, Sexaholics, Debtors, Gamblers and most recently Online Gamers. For the most part society sits and views these groups with awareness of the daily struggle and a sense of support for those in recovery. Though there may be some cynism surrounding sexual addiction and curiosity as to how one can be addicted to online gaming, there is rarely overt support for “acting out” in these ways. Unfortunately, this is not the case when we turn to Workaholism. Many of us meet this issue at a disadvantage, having been reared with a healthy awareness of the value of a work ethic. And the aspect of that ethos was often expressed in terms of often and sacrificial. Thus, when we experience a team-member who exemplifies a work ethic aligned with “often” and “sacrificial” we are in awe of the pristine embodiment of the work ethic championed in our youth. How could we know that the obsession with being eternally-accessible and omni-crucial is the manifestation of an addiction? We need not delve into the psychology, but we should simply know that in the “community rooms” of local libraries and the campuses of our places of worship, individuals just like your colleague gather in metal folding chairs, holding styrofoam cups and seeking support for their desire to recover from this addiction. Meanwhile, organizations act tantamount to stocking cubicles with mini-bars or streaming horse-races in the break room when we applaud workaholism. When we don’t make mental/physical/emotional health a defined aspect of success for our staff we are part of the problem. When we are satisfied with an individual wrecking their soul simply so we can meet unreasonable deadlines we are enabling addiction. And when we forget that there was a time when we could vacation, sleep or simply lunch without being “connected” we promote dysfunction. We may experience some short term benefits. That is the nature of addiction. But we will ultimately ruin our colleagues in the pursuit of meeting objectives if the cost of human well-being is ignored. Perhaps it is the enablers which most need an intervention. Maybe we must work to be more aware of how we respect boundaries, promote rest, and affirm work which is done well as opposed to work which will do us in. Perhaps this will allow us to be advocates, rather than adversaries, of those struggling with this most celebrated addiction.

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