Share this story...
Latest News

Work-life balance needed to avoid hazards of ‘workaholism’

What is the worth of family time? The former CEO of PIMCO, a trillion-dollar investment management firm, suggests that family time is priceless.

Mohamed El-Erian reportedly earned $100 million a year and in January resigned from his position, according to The Independent.

While news reports of the departure highlighted internal problems at PIMCO, El-Erian said in a recent interview with Worth magazine that family matters were also a factor.

“About a year ago, I asked my daughter several times to do something — brush her teeth I think it was — with no success. She asked me to wait a minute, went to her room and came back with a piece of paper,” he recalled. “It was a list that she had compiled of her important events and activities that I had missed due to work commitments. Talk about a wake-up call.”

Shortly after this eye-opening experience with his daughter, El-Erian decided to step down from his position in order to turn his focus to something a little more important this time — his family.

El-Erian pointed out in the Worth interview that his circumstance is a luxury, and that not all parents have the ability to cut down on work.

It is an ongoing struggle for parents to find the perfect balance between providing a stable income for family and spending the appropriate time outside the office for family activities.

As of August, about 59 percent of the United States' population was employed, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Dr. Gabi Cora, a psychiatrist and co-founder of the Executive Health and Wealth Institute, explained there is not a single universal definition for workaholism. “I wouldn't call workaholism a disease because there are so many different grades and degrees of being one,” she told KSPR.

In writing for KSPR, Jeanne Sahadi pointed out that there is some overlap in how therapists, social scientists, and sufferers describe workaholics. “They feel compelled to work, are always preoccupied with work and can't relax when they're not working,” she wrote. “And often their compulsion to work has a destructive effect on their health and their relationships.”

According to BIT, workaholism may start with being consistently busy with work, progress to loss of productivity, and transition into relationship breakdowns. Finally, in very severe cases, the workers may even need hospitalization from the severe stress and aggravated medical problems.

Another dimension to workaholism is technology, noted Amy Morin, writing for Forbes. Employees can leave the workplace, but their laptops, tablets and smartphones allow them to work from anywhere and at anytime. This provides a new obstacle for workers.

“The ‘time is money’ attitude makes people think twice about spending a relaxing evening with family or enjoying leisure time with friends,” wrote Morin.

She suggests if a person needs some intervention to prioritize family time there are self-help groups that can teach them how to disengage from work, plan for family, and manage their time more effectively.

Employers can also play a role, El-Erian told the The Independent. “Hopefully, as companies give more attention to the importance of work-life balance, more and more people will be in a better position to act holistically on what’s important to them.”

Email: kclark@deseretnews.com