Bergen Work Addiction Scale Identifies ‘Workaholics’

Connie K. Ho for

Have you ever wondered if you´re a “workaholic?” In this world of advanced technology, people may be feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and overworked more than ever. A new study from researchers in Norway and the United Kingdom created a new tool to measure work addiction. The instrument, called the Bergen Work Addiction Scale, was developed based on the core factors of addiction and allows participants to identify particular weaknesses.

The study, done by Cecilie Schou Andreassen from the Psychology Department at the University of Bergen (UIB), analyzes influences of globalization, new technology, and the mixing of public and private life. Her study is highlighted in the upcoming issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. Much of the research was based off of her experience as a clinical psychologist specialist and a consultant in the private sector. Schou Andreassen believes that people are facing an increase in work addiction. In a prepared statement, she describes “work addicts” or “workaholics” as those who “work excessively and compulsively.”

Schou Andreassen also describes the Bergen Work Addiction Scale as the first of its kind in the world. The scale can help in the development and facilitation of treatments for patients. As well, it will help estimate the amount of work addiction in the general population.

“A number of studies show that work addiction has been associated with insomnia, health problems, burnout and stress as well as creating conflict between work and family life,” noted Schou Andreassen in the statement. “By testing themselves with the scale, people can find out their degree of work addiction: non-addicted, mildly addicted or workaholic.”

Research for the project included participation from 12,135 Norwegian employees from 25 different industries. The Bergen Work Addiction Scale was evaluated with two sample groups. The scale addressed issues such as conflict, mood modification, relapse, salience, tolerance, and withdrawal. Participants would mark how they felt (never, rarely, sometimes, often, and always) on various criteria like freeing more time to work, spending more time work than initially anticipated, feeling stressed if not allowed to work, reprioritizing hobbies and leisure time based on work, and working so much that it has negative influences on your health. Schou Andreassen stated that saying “often” or “always” to at least four of the provided questions signified that the person was a “workaholic.”

The scale was able to show the difference between those who were considered “workaholics” and those who were not considered “workaholics.” For those who find that they are “workaholics,” there are a number of tips that you can help you alleviate your workload. In an article by CNN Money, the first step to changing your “workaholic” habits is to acknowledge that you are a “workaholic.” The “workaholic” life style does not promote balance and can bring challenges to your personal life. Another tip is to take small steps to change the way you do things. For example, you can figure out how to unschedule things and prioritize what is most important.  Lastly, seek out a support group like Workaholics Anonymous that can assist you battle these demons. A support group helps people stay on track and recovery.