Stress, Workaholism and Job Demands: A study of executives in Mumbai


The changing nature of the economy and increased competition has put a great demand on professionals today. As a result, workaholism is emerging as a behavior pattern among professionals. The main objective of the study is an exploration towards identifying the relationship between workaholism, job demands, work values and perceived stress and anxiety among working professionals in Mumbai, India. The study was done under exploratory framework and the sampling procedure was purposive. Results reveal the dimensions of workaholism, work values and job demands that emerged as predictors of stress and anxiety. Some of the dimensions of job demands showing the extreme nature of the job came out as the negative predictor of stress, which reflects an entirely different perspective of people in the society. Professionals in the service sector suffer from more stress and anxiety compared to those in the manufacturing sector. Overall, the unmarried and a younger age group of professionals are perceived to have a higher level of anxiety and stress than married and the senior age group. Knowledge of these results may be utilized by academia and professionals in understanding the workaholic behavior of the current Indian professionals driven by globalization and economic boom.


During the great depression of the 1930s, in Great Britain, philosopher Bertrand Russell predicted that the “road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work” (Leggiere, 2002:42). With a growing trend of technology and increasing affluence among the masses, Bertrand’s ecoutopian philosophy asserts that in the near future, masses would have the leisure to peruse themselves for intellectual growth, which was solely confined to the “leisured elite”. Such visions were popular largely among the visionaries and radicals till the st post-war era. However, during the early 21 century, the moot issue that emerged among business scholars and leaders was how to keep business ethics of work hours in the era of increasing leisure and comfort through aggressive consumerism.

The debate and the concern among business experts was to probe how quickly productivity enhancing technology would overthrow the “less work hours” trend with the “more work hours” culture. Further, with the open era economy and fast pace of technology innovation and competitiveness, a new 24/7 economy has unleashed the traditionally puritan garb of centuries old industrial paradigm, and has freed the business environment as never before. As a consequence, a shift in work culture and working pattern of executives is apparently visible. The new economy organizations became highly demanding. Globalization, rapid technological advancement and the un-satiated need for growth led to increased incidence of poor mental health among working executives.

In a study reported in New Zealand Management (Anonymous, 2007), research done by Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health & Development at the University of Otago has indicated that work-related stress has been found to be a cause of clinical depression and anxiety among young adults. A study of almost 900 people who were 32-year-olds, found that 14 percent of women and 10 percent of men experience stress at work – and with no prior mental health problems – had a first episode of depression or anxiety at age 32.

More people are being exposed to stress at work, and stress rates have increased in the past decade. We now know that work-related stress is associated with psychiatric health problems that increase health-care and societal costs, and reduce workproductivity.

Henceforth, the topics of stress and health have attracted a great deal of attention in recent years, not only among psychologists but also with the popular press. In the West, the important role of occupational health has long been highlighted by the World Health Organization (WHO1950; WHO1985), and is also an important dimension in the Community Charter (CEC, 1989) and the related Action Programme (CEC, 1989). There have been numerous reports in literature that high levels of perceived work stress are associated with low levels of job satisfaction and poor mental health (Saini, P., 2010; Sharma, R. 2010; Kanwar, Singh and Kodwani, 2009). Caplan et al, (1975), for example, found evidence that work stress was associated with high levels of both anxiety and depression. Other studies have reported significant relationships between levels of occupational stress and reactions of anger (Hodapp, 1988), high levels of work-family conflict (Greenhause, et al. 1987), low levels of life and marital adjustment (Greenhause, et al. 1987) and reports of physical symptomatology (Innes & Kitto, 1989).

Not only in the western part of the world, but also in the east, the once rarely discussed subject on stress and anxiety, has now become widespread and is often discussed in daily conversations. The word “stress” has become almost a household word. Indian culture, which is known for its values of tolerance, resilience, peacefulness, karma (the virtue of belief in work without expectation) and dharma (religion) are losing some of their cultural capacity to absorb stress. Work stress has found its milieu in Indian business organizations and many other MNCs working from India and spreading like cancer across various levels and hierarchies of employees (Sinha, A.K. and Jain, A., 2010; Srivastava, M., 2011, Sharma, R.R., 2010; Bhaskar & Rao, 2010).

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