A work-obsessed employee:  Do you have employees who are very involved in the work? Who would like to dedicate themselves with heart and soul to the organization?

If someone is involved, he is very loyal to the organization. He sympathizes, thinks along, feels involved, makes proposals and takes initiatives to improve. An obsessed employee is willing to do more than requested and is willing to help others. He likes to put energy into his work. You would like all employees to be involved. But what if an employee is too involved?

It may seem useful for an employee to go out of his way because that will save you work. But you also run the risk of losing this hard-working employee if the amount of work becomes too much for him.

work-obsessed employee

From committed to obsessed

There is nothing wrong with an employee who is committed and ambitious. On the contrary, such employees are a great added value for an organization. But it is very important to keep an eye on these very committed employees so that they don’t become obsessed. As soon as the word ‘too’ comes up, the employee can experience more and more stress. In addition, a burnout occurs primarily among employees who are over-involved.

All managers naturally want to get the best out of their employees. Who doesn’t want an employee who does his best on his own initiative, sees where there are problems and wants to help the company in a constructive way? These are obsessed employees.

It may, however, be the case that this fails. Some employees have difficulty releasing or putting their work into perspective. They feel personally responsible and solely responsible for disappointing results for which an entire team is responsible. If you recognize this in an employee, then you are dealing with an employee who has been or is obsessed. How wonderfully ambitious they seem at first is how destructive it is later for their personal lives and therefore for the functioning of the company.

Recognize a committed employee

As a supervisor, you recognize that an employee is obsessed when, for example, he is easily irritated with work in which he is involved, produces different results than expected. He finds it difficult to put things into perspective and makes work-related things heavier or more important than they are. Because he has become emotionally connected to his work, he often reacts more emotionally in situations related to the work. He can get upset if something goes wrong in the workplace or gets angry if someone doesn’t do his job well.

It happens all too often that you have noticed an employee who has become obsessed too late. People who are no longer able to let go of their work sometimes make up the largest group of long-term sickness due to burnout.

Also read: learning objectives to reduce absenteeism


Six important characteristics indicate that an employee has been or is obsessed.

An obsessed employee:

  • Is also busy with his work outside working hours
  • Interferes with matters that do not concern the employee
  • Is often over cautious
  • Can not stand criticism
  • Can dose and relieve poorly
  • Interferes with the work of the manager

Always busy with work

A very clear sign that your employee may or will get overworked is that he or she is always busy with work outside of working hours. It is, of course, no harm if an employee sometimes works longer on his own initiative, but if that becomes more frequent, it can be very harmful. Everyone needs time to recharge the batteries. If you are always busy with your work, recharging your batteries won’t happen.

Read also about, Break the pressure of the CC culture

always working

Interferes with matters that are not of their concern

Employees thrive best when they have a clearly defined set of duties. It doesn’t hurt if an employee already thinks along constructively about a solution from a colleague. However, it is problematic if the employee pays unsolicited and disruptive tasks that do not concern him. This indicates that there is too much (emotional) involvement in aspects of the company that the employee would not be able to influence if he or she carries out his or her duties properly.

Also read: increasing personal effectiveness

Is often over cautious

You cannot solve everything on your own. An obsessed employee will sometimes be convinced of the opposite. The employee takes too much hay on his fork and wants to perform everything to perfection. In this way, the employee creates an unrealistic pattern of expectations for himself. The fact that they cannot fulfil these expectations often leads to a feeling of failure.

Also read: approaching an employee

Can’t handle criticism well

Because over-engaged employees invest too much in their work and attract the outcomes and processes personally and often emotionally, criticism is all the more serious for them. Even the most constructive criticism can feel like a personal attack that they cannot put into perspective.

Read also: conflicts between colleagues

Has difficulty delegating and giving up work

The fact that an employee has difficulty relinquishing tasks and dosing his own duties is an important cause of burnout for the employee involved. Precisely because he himself is no longer able to estimate how much hay he can take on his fork, he will no longer be able to finish his work on time and will, therefore, take it home with him. If an employee no longer wants to hand over work, this often also creates an unbalanced working atmosphere. The employee may look down on colleagues who can maintain a healthy private working relationship.

Also read: an employee with fear of failure

Too involved in the work of a manager

You can also notice that an employee is involved in how he behaves towards you (manager). Usually, over-involved people also feel responsible for the end result. It is possible that he will interfere too much with your work for that reason. This will then irritate you or you experience it as oppressive or experience little freedom of movement. It may also be that the employee wants to follow you throughout your life. To prevent rising tensions, it is good to communicate openly with this employee. You can explain what the other person’s behaviour does to you without hurting him. Help him see that he cannot have complete control over everything and that it is important that he learns to let go.

Also read: increasing assertiveness in work

Employee involved

The correct balance between work and private life for employees

An employee becomes over-involved because he really likes doing his job or feels responsible that the work is successful. It is therefore important that employees know how to find a balance between being involved with and keeping their distance from work. Do you need your employees to be reachable after working hours and do they have to answer their work emails in the evenings?

Assure your employees that they can switch off their telephone after 6 pm and that when they leave the office they actually close the door behind them. An employee can only be productive if he is occasionally not busy with work. If employees keep the right balance between work and private life and are not involved, they can enjoy their work and are valuable employees for your organization.

You can, therefore, help an employee who is involved by:

  • Approving the work
  • Specify limits within which he/she may move
  • To set a good example yourself
  • Realize that less is often more
  • Build a safe atmosphere in which employees can have their say

Also read:  Helping employees increase their personal effectiveness

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How to manage a work-obsessed employee?

If you have recognized someone with the above characteristics, you should provide a good framework. After all, there is a good chance that the pressure on the emotional housekeeping of your employee will become so great that it will end in burnout.

Do you notice that the employee is trying to take up too much of your personal workspace, in other words, that he or she feels responsible for the end result at your level? Then it is very important that you set clear boundaries without compromising the value of his or her work. In addition, after a while, you can become self-irritated by that infringement in your freedom of movement.

Often an over-engaged employee also has a poor balance between work and private life. An employee who is almost always busy with work has no time to recharge his batteries in order to be able to fully get going again.

You can certainly do something about this. For example, make it clear to your employees that they no longer have to pick up their phone in the evening or that they should no longer expect mail. Set clear limits that the employee must respect if you also create a safe environment in which all employees can express themselves. You also have to set a good example yourself. For example, make it clear to your employees on certain days that you will not send any mail back that evening.

Above all, know that an employee who is involved is someone who is actually very valuable and invested in the company. Involved employees are people who – if you have the right framework – can be your best employees.

Also read: common problems companies

Conquer burnout and stress

Reducing stress and recovering from burnout can be quite the challenge. With the help of our professional coaches, we are convinced that a full recovery is within reach. Our years of experience has taught us what stepping stones will help you reach your goal more effectively and how to make sure the changes you make will be of help to you for the rest of your life. Let’s turn your burnout or stress into your best life ever.

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