Meso level: Organizational solutions
Employers who are able to provide healthy work environments meeting psychological needs of their employees and caring about their balanced development may reduce work-related risks, including work addiction, occupational depression and burnout, substantially.
The main challenge for the employers and managers is to promote healthy engagement and reduce work addiction. Potential solutions focus on norms and values that encourage work engagement rather than workaholism, and provide:
- fulfillment of employees’ basic needs at work,
- proper management behavior such as transformational leadership style; it means that leaders should influence by example, use inspirational motivation, show individual consideration, and stimulate others intellectually,
- career counseling,
- work-life balance programs focusing on training employees in skills related to time management,
stress reduction, and relaxation techniques.
Recommendations also include:
- the usage of Employee Assistance Programs,
- enforced vacations,
- development opportunities for better engagement,
- flexible roles.
THE ROLE OF MANAGERS
One of the crucial points on WHO’s agenda for the next years is tackling burnout. There is a rich and still growing literature on solutions for a healthy workplace, and at the same time burnout, and work-related depression and anxiety are growing rather than diminishing problems across countries and professions. It shows a clear disproportion between rapidly appearing new studies expanding scientific literature on a healthy workplace and increasing work-related ill-health.
One of the likely causes for the poor translation of knowledge into practice is that individuals who should be responsible for introducing and managing healthy work-place behaviors, that is, leaders and managers, are the ones who show high risk for compulsive overworking.
Leaders and managers:
- have a direct and indirect effect on employee well-being,
- influence the organizational culture and climate, which are recognized factors contributing to work addiction,
- who are addicted to work contribute to the harm of employees in terms of chronic stress, mental and physical illness, and
loss of productivity due to ineffective supervision.
In such situation, a considerable challenge emerges: how can we develop frameworks for effectively implementing healthy work environment interventions taking into account that leaders are at high risk of work addiction and addiction is, in most cases, related to denial?
Foremostly, it is a matter of reducing human suffering. At the same time it is also a crucial economic problem because occupational stress generates enormous costs for society and industry.
For this reason, governments, social institutions, and organizations should be vitally interested in systematically investigating this issue with an aim of developing feasible and effective counteractions, including solutions that take into account the nature of compulsive overworking and the scope of its consequences.
The first step to change this situation is to acknowledge the problem of work addiction and its meaning for leadership, management and overall functioning of organizations and individuals.