Almost ten percent affected
According to the study, “addictive” work is widespread
05/25/2022, 12:12 p.m
Longer than contractually agreed, faster than others and busy with several tasks at the same time: According to a study by the Hans Böckler Foundation, one in ten Germans is “addicted”. This also includes being unable to switch off and only going on vacation with a bad feeling.
Long working hours, many tasks at the same time, a bad conscience on vacation: almost every tenth employee in Germany shows according to a study addictive behavior at work. Managers and the self-employed are particularly affected, according to the Hans Böckler Foundation, which is close to the trade union. The size of the company and co-determination also have an influence on the relationship between employees and their work.
For the study, the research team from the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB) and the TU Braunschweig conducted interviews with a total of 8,000 employees in 2017 and 2018. The researchers defined addictive work along two dimensions: those affected worked excessively, i.e. long, fast and on several tasks simultaneously. The second factor was the busyness of the workforce, meaning a guilty conscience on days off, or the inability to relax after work.
Every second person works “relaxed”
According to the study, at that time 9.8 percent of the employed in Germany worked addictively, another 33 percent worked excessively but not compulsively. On the other hand, every second employee worked “calmly”. Accordingly, those employed in the areas of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and horticulture tended most frequently to addictive work – the proportion here was 19 percent. The proportion of workaholics was lowest in the fields of computer science, natural sciences and geography at only six percent.
“Overall, the study situation indicates that the prevalence of addictive work among employees shows only slight differences – if at all – in terms of sociodemographic characteristics,” the researchers explained. For example, school qualifications or marital status had no significant influence on the relationship to work.
The self-employed are particularly prone to addictive behavior
Overall, at 10.8 percent, women were slightly more likely to be addicted to work than men at 9 percent. There were clearer differences between the age groups: 12.6 percent of the 15 to 24 year olds were addicted to work, while the figure for the 55 to 64 year olds was only 7.9 percent.
According to the study by the Böckler Foundation, the position in the company was also relevant. The researchers explained that there is “a statistically highly significant connection” between addictive work and managerial responsibility. The rate for executives was 12.4 percent, for other employees only 8.7 percent. For managers in particularly high positions, the rate rose to 16.6 percent. With a rate of 13.9 percent, the self-employed also showed particularly high levels of addictive behavior at work.
“Works councils help to set boundaries
According to the study, the size of the company and the opportunities for co-determination were also decisive for the work behavior of employees. The rate in companies with fewer than ten employees was 12.3 percent, while in those with more than 250 employees only 8.3 percent of the workforce were affected by addictive work behavior.
The difference between companies with and without a works council was similar: According to the study, if there was a works council, an average of 8.7 percent of employees worked addictively. Without the works council, the rate of those affected rose to 11.9 percent. “Works councils help to set boundaries and could thus protect employees from self-exploitation,” the Hans Böckler Foundation explained the study results.