Long-hours junkies neglect home and family life as work addiction takes them to new extremes

A new breed of ‘extreme’ workers is proudly letting their jobs ruin the rest of their lives, according to research.

The Harvard Business Review surveyed top executives in US and multinational companies and found 45% had ‘extreme’ jobs.

These roles entail 60 hours or more per week, a high salary and half of the 10 identified characteristics such as large amounts of travel, tight deadlines and unsociable hours.

Extreme workers put their jobs before everything else in their lives, often having little or no sex lives, holidays or time to spend with their families.

However, 76% of global extreme workers love their jobs and don’t begrudge the amount of energy they devote to work, according to the report.

“Far from seeing themselves as workaholics in need of rescuing, extreme workers wear their commitments lie a badge of honour,” it said.

Examples of extreme behaviour identified by the report include a man who rescheduled his grandmother in-law’s funeral to go to a meeting, and another who had lived in a London flat for two years but had only got round to buying a mattress and a sleeping bag.

Definition of an extreme worker

If you work more than 60 hours per week, earn a good salary and recognise five of the 10 characteristics below, then you are an extreme worker:

  1. Permanent availability to clients
  2. Large amounts of travel
  3. Physical presence at the office at least 10 hours per day  
  4. Tight deadlines
  5. Responsibility for profit and loss
  6. Large number of people reporting directly to you
  7. Responsibility for mentoring and recruiting
  8. Inordinate scope of responsibility
  9. Work-related events outside work hours
  10. Unpredictable flow of work

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