Workaholism vs. Work Engagement: the Two Different Predictors of Future Well-being and Performance

Abstract

Purpose

This study investigated the distinctiveness of two types of heavy work investment (i.e., workaholism and work engagement) by examining their 2-year longitudinal relationships with employee well-being and job performance. Based on a previous cross-sectional study by Shimazu and Schaufeli (Ind Health 47:495–502, 2009) and a shorter term longitudinal study by Shimazu et al. (Ind Health 50:316–21, 2012; measurement interval = 7 months), we predicted that workaholism predicts long-term future unwell-being (i.e., high ill-health and low life satisfaction) and poor job performance, whereas work engagement predicts future well-being (i.e., low ill-health and high life satisfaction) and superior job performance.

Method

A two-wave survey was conducted among employees from one Japanese company, and valid data from 1,196 employees was analyzed using structural equation modeling. T1–T2 changes in ill-health, life satisfaction, and job performance were measured as residual scores, which were included in the structural equation model.

Results

Workaholism and work engagement were weakly and positively related to each other. In addition, and as expected, workaholism was related to an increase in ill-health and to a decrease in life satisfaction. In contrast, and also as expected, work engagement was related to increases in both life satisfaction and job performance and to a decrease in ill-health.

Conclusion

Although workaholism and work engagement are weakly positively related, they constitute two different concepts. More specifically, workaholism has negative consequences across an extended period of 2 years, whereas work engagement has positive consequences in terms of well-being and performance. Hence, workaholism should be prevented and work engagement should be stimulated.

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Correspondence to Akihito Shimazu.

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We state that we conformed to the Helsinki Declaration concerning human rights and informed consent, and that we followed correct procedures concerning treatment of humans in research.

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Shimazu, A., Schaufeli, W.B., Kamiyama, K. et al. Workaholism vs. Work Engagement: the Two Different Predictors of Future Well-being and Performance. Int.J. Behav. Med. 22, 18–23 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12529-014-9410-x

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Keywords

  • Hard work investment
  • Job performance
  • Physical complaints
  • Psychological distress
  • Workaholism
  • Work engagement