Perfectionism in Employees: Work Engagement, Workaholism, and Burnout



Perfectionism is a prevalent personality disposition that may affect all domains of life. Work is an important domain of life for many people. Yet, research on perfectionism at work and how perfectionism affects employees’ health and well-being is still limited. Research, however, has investigated perfectionism’s relationships with three key aspects of peoples’ working lives that are closely associated with employees’ health and well-being: work engagement, workaholism, and job burnout. Differentiating between perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns (Stoeber & Otto, Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 295–319, 2006), the present chapter presents an overview of the relevant research findings. Taken together, the findings suggest that (a) perfectionistic strivings show positive relationships with work engagement, whereas perfectionistic concerns show no relationships or negative relationships, (b) perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns both show positive relationships with workaholism, and (c) perfectionistic strivings show negative relationships with burnout, whereas perfectionistic concerns show positive relationships. To explain the opposite relationships that perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns show with burnout, two hypothetical models are presented. In Model 1, autonomous versus controlled motivation explains the opposite relationships between perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns with burnout. In Model 2, adaptive versus maladaptive coping explains the relationships. The chapter concludes with directions for future research on perfectionism, work engagement, workaholism, and job burnout, pointing out the importance of longitudinal studies and intervention studies.


Work engagement Workaholism Job burnout Employee health and well-being Productivity Depersonalization Coping styles 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of KentCanterburyUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyBabeş-Bolyai UniversityCluj-NapocaRomania

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