Characteristics of a Workaholic

Characteristics of a Workaholic

Workaholics are often characterized by working excessively long hours, being obsessed with work, and sacrificing other important areas of life for the sake of work. While a strong work ethic can be admirable, workaholism can take an unhealthy toll. Recognizing some key characteristics of workaholics can help determine if it has crossed into detrimental territory.

Working Excessively Long Hours

One of the most telling signs of a workaholic is working well beyond a typical 40 hour work week, putting in 50-60+ hours consistently. Even vacation time or days off are filled with work-related tasks rather than true rest and leisure. There is a compulsion to always be working.

Perfectionism and Micromanaging

Workaholics often set unrealistically high standards paired with perfectionism that causes them to micromanage their own and others’ work. There is difficulty delegating tasks because of a lack of trust that things will be done “correctly.” Perfectionism can lead to completion anxiety, burnout, and lack of work-life balance.

Obsessed with Work

Rather than work being one important area of life, work becomes life itself. All other responsibilities and interests fall by the wayside. Vacations bring anxiety rather than relaxation as they count down the minutes until they can get back to the demands of work.

Guilt Around Not Working

Attempts to take breaks from work, whether for a vacation, a weekend, or even just an evening, are met with overwhelming feelings of anxiety and guilt. There is a persistent feeling that they need to be working and an inability to relax and enjoy non-work activities.

Ignoring Health, Relationships, Responsibilities

In the relentless pursuit of work, other aspects of a healthy, balanced life are neglected – exercise, nutrition, social connections, family relationships, and even hygiene can begin to suffer. Work becomes all-consuming while other fundamental human needs get brushed aside.


What are some key characteristics of a workaholic?

Some key characteristics include: working excessively long hours, perfectionism/micromanaging, being obsessed with work, feeling guilty when not working, and ignoring health, relationships, and other responsibilities.

Is being a workaholic healthy?

No, workaholism is generally not healthy. It can lead to burnout, strained relationships, poor self-care, and a lack of work-life balance. It stems from an unhealthy need to validate self-worth through work.

Can workaholics change?

Yes, with professional help, self-awareness, setting healthy boundaries, adopting new thought patterns, taking up hobbies and interests outside of work, and making a conscious effort to create more balance, workaholics can change.

What causes someone to become a workaholic?

There are many potential root causes, including perfectionism, past trauma, using work to fill emotional voids, underlying mental health issues, and work environments that promote or even glorify overwork.

How can you support a workaholic to develop healthier habits?

Ways to support workaholics include: expressing concern and care, encouraging counseling or therapy, setting boundaries, planning non-work activities, reminding them of the importance of self-care and work-life balance, and offering praise for steps taken towards positive change.