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Workaholism to rise in healthcare

Work-life balance still elusive in health fields

A recent study of more than 400 employees in professional and administrative occupations found that there is an optimum level of workaholism for achieving job effectiveness and positive health but extremes are dangerous.

“We discovered that workaholics really struggle when they feel that they are alone or swimming upstream without a paddle,” said Wayne Hochwarter, a professor of business administration at Florida State University and co-author of the study.

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While healthcare professionals are not necessarily more susceptible to being workaholics than other professionals, reimbursement cuts and changing requirements due to the Affordable Care Act have forced the industry to do more with less said Eric Dickerson, managing director of executive search firm Kaye/Bassman International.

“This type of environment pushes those potential ‘workaholics’ over the edge many times and others begin to see that extra work keeps you employed longer. This issue spans the executive offices and clinical spaces as well,” he said. “If you are considered an exempt employee, odds are you are pushing the envelope from either an internal ‘workaholic’ perspective or an external push from the board, executive team or investors."

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And the triggers for workaholism in the healthcare field are not slowing down, noted Abhay Padgaonkar, president of Innovative Solutions Consulting.

[See also: 8 significant healthcare workforce trends ]

“Unfortunately, with an expected influx of millions more patients into the healthcare system, things may get worse before they get better,” Padgaonkar said. “I’m also seeing a more recent and dangerous trend where hospitals and medical groups believe that they can cut costs by employing fewer doctors and making them see more patients." 

“Given the volatility in today’s work environment, the ability to work hard, contribute long hours and demonstrate value is at a premium," added Daniel Herrera, the study’s research associate. "Thus, workaholism will likely remain alive and well for years to come.”


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