How workaholics can maintain a better work-life balance

Old habits die hard. Workaholics, who are always restless and have a big ability to forget their wives and families, do have very strained relationships at home. Sometimes, their frustration at home is effectively converted into even more work. Yes! There is often a passion involved in their work. However, a need for far better work-life balance is very much real. This article discusses certain aspects of this in detail.


There is always a need for workaholics to change their behavior. Sometimes, they are ignorant about what they are doing. At other times, they are aware but seem helpless. However, the "how" of such change is largely related to a) Better time management b) Understanding how delegation helps in minimizing tensions c) Making subordinates take on more responsibilities d) Reserving week-ends for total family attention and e) Having very strict office timings on specific days.

Nothing works without any effort. The need to put in a large amount of effort does mean more attention to detail.

Better time management

One of the main problems with workaholics is that such men ( and very rarely women too) are "I will only do it" characters. They would tend to discuss everything so thoroughly and not trust subordinates. The "repeat-what-I-have-told-you" phrase is so common. Irritating to the maximum, the next phrase is even more damaging to the self-esteem of the other human being.

"I-want-to-be-convinced-that-you-have-understood-me-well" is repeated so many times. This makes it even more complicated as the poor fellow has to literally repeat what the boss had said. Clarifications come fast, though. Yet, the workaholic is always like that.

In one auto-ancillary organization, the workaholic would spend as many as eight hours only on e-mails. He would demand tonnes of data and comment on each minute detail. Since the final result would be increased production, the bosses were happy. It so happened that all weaknesses were brushed under the carpet and the workaholic became a sort of hero. For instance, seven meetings were held over 45 days, and each meeting would start at exactly 5.15 AM. The bosses were supposed to rush home at 6 AM and get ready to report for duty at 7.30 AM. Not many wives of managers liked this. One of them had to guts to call up someone in the Corporate office to complain. Finally, the boss was asked to stop the atrocious practice.

The key is better time management. Even Management by walking around can fetch far better results than endless e-mails. Though e-mail can be a very useful tool in communication, it also eats up so much time. The workaholics should also remember that it is far better to devise a method to cut down on all unwanted time wasters like lengthy conversations with suppliers.

"I will only do it" attitude never works. It will lead to frustration of subordinates. It will lead to very poor inter-personal relations and will simply ruin the atmosphere. Many subordinates would like to assume more responsibilities. However, when pushed too hard, the subordinates tend to hang up and never ever exert themselves. Better time management is essential and this can often come about only through Management intervention. The workaholic should also remember that his own wife and children are very often frustrated too. At least thirty minutes on each day should be spent on laughter and fun. This should be done after the cell phones are switched off.

Understanding how delegation helps in minimizing tensions

Workaholics can also have a far better work-life balance if they get to delegate part of their responsibilities. However, such delegation should also result in a better mingling of responsibility with authority as well.

In other words, the other peers and even subordinates in the particular department should be made clear of the limits of such responsibility and authority, so that there is no politics or attempts to spoil the initiatives of the empowered subordinate. This often happens when the peers are already very jealous of a particular person to whom several tasks are delegated. Tensions often dimish in office when effective delegation happens. For instance, if a subordinate is good in human relations, he can be entrusted with the crucial task of engaging the key trade union leaders in some aspect of negotiations related to a particular settlement. Though some aspects would have been negotiated, the subtle implications of certain aspects such as a commitment to reduce absenteeism require several rounds of convincing the concerned personnel.

It should also be noted that once the delegation is complete, the workaholic would have enough time on his hands to make a call to his wife or son or to the school teacher. Even such small gestures can go a long way in making the work-life balance far better. In fact, in the most sophisticated HR driven organizations, this becomes the key task of HR managers who often spend time with such workaholics. The HR Managers fully understand the need for change and do the initiatives with full management support.

The Management will also notice more than mere subtle changes in the behavior of the workaholics. This is a welcome development under any situation. When the situation is somewhat conducive, the Management should pack off the workaholic and make him possibly enjoy a movie in a good multiplex with his family. Some organizations do this rather religiously. Of course, the HR portfolio is very strong in such cases.

Making subordinates take on more responsibilities

This is allied to step two. The wisest of workaholics who do work long hours often do so without any tension. Only major and strategic decisions are taken by them. Very often, the subordinates make mistakes. They learn from such mistakes.

However, once the learning is effective, the mistakes do not happen again. For example, in the most boring job of maintaining records pertaining to some Quality audit or the other, the workaholics engage the lower level subordinates, with clear instructions to help the higher level managers tie up all the loose ends and then supervise the work done. If this is not done, the managers get to do this work, and frustration results in the process. Workaholics should also be made to understand the source of frustration of their own subordinates.

Exposing them to the classic Johari Window, where there are four quadrants of self-awareness, is a super initiative in many organizations. The four quadrants are what I know others don't know, what others know but I don't know, what others don't know and I also don't know, and what I know and others know.

Since the emphasis is always on "what I know and others know" the emphasis is always on more transparency and free communication, piloted by HR professionals.

Making subordinates take on more responsibilities works well when they are praised for their efforts. Constant encouragement and positive feedback have the power to work wonders in any situation.

This is very important in any situation.

Reserving weekends for total family attention

This is important too. The family always needs to be treated as one unit of vital importance and central to the overall performance of the workaholic. Any modern management should be aware of how much demotivation and demoralization the workaholics bring to the table in any situation. The rather important task of any HR Manager is to ensure that the weekends are only for the family. If there two continuous holidays, the HR Managers should take all effort to pack off the workaholic to any exotic hill station. This is very important too.

Such regular attention to the family can, over a period of time, help a great deal in this regard. The workaholics will gradually see reason and change quite a bit.

Having very strict office timings on specific days

This is one aspect that also needs a good deal of attention. At at least two days in a week, the workaholic should endeavor to pack off home when the clock strikes the close of official hours. This is absolutely essential.

Once this happens, the workaholic can see a good shift in family attitudes and the entire scenario will change. The workaholic should understand this on his or her own. If he or she does not do so, the organization's HR department should do so and ensure that the workaholic does change.

In fact, this author knows of at least two senior managers in a pharma organization, who were made to change in this fashion.


At least some attempt should be made to change the workaholics. It should be ensured that when the workaholics do change a bit, the HR managers do their bit do to ensure that the change is durable and is a long lasting one.

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Author: Neeru Bhatt26 Feb 2019 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 1

Workaholics have their priority for the workplace as compared to home. These many times bring a setback on the personal life and in developed countries it can even lead to separation.

So a balance between office and home is imperative. Those who cannot manage it will suffer in their life.

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