Unravelling Work Drive: A Comparison between Workaholism and Overcommitment

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Aug 9;17(16):5755. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17165755.


Workaholism and overcommitment are often used as interchangeable constructs describing an individual's over-involvement toward their own job. Employees with high levels in both constructs are characterized by an excessive effort and attachment to their job, with the incapability to detach from it and negative consequences in terms of poor health and job burnout. However, few studies have simultaneously measured both constructs, and their relationships are still not clear. In this study, we try to disentangle workaholism and overcommitment by comparing them with theoretically related contextual and personal antecedents, as well as their health consequences. We conducted a nonprobability mixed mode research design on 133 employees from different organizations in Italy using both self- and other-reported measures. To test our hypothesis that workaholism and overcommitment are related yet different constructs, we used partial correlations and regression analyses. The results confirm that these two constructs are related to each other, but also outline that overcommitment (and not workaholism) is uniquely related to job burnout, so that overcommitment rather than workaholism could represent the true negative aspect of work drive. Additionally, workaholism is more related to conscientiousness than overcommitment, while overcommitment shows a stronger relationship with neuroticism than workaholism. The theoretical implications are discussed.

Keywords: burnout; other-report; overcommitment; personality; workaholism.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Burnout, Professional*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Personality