Which Type of Worker Are You?

It’s no secret: We don’t all approach work the same way. Some of us throw ourselves into our jobs. We love what we do. Others of us are less enthusiastic. We show up to work and give it some effort. Maybe we’ve learned the hard way about what Sarah Jaffe writes about in her book Work Won’t Love You Back.   

Recently I read an article about some early research on workaholism. Janet T. Spence and Ann S. Robins believe that workaholism revolves around three characteristics: Work Involvement, Drivenness, and Work Enjoyment. Here’s a brief synopsis of each.

  • Work Involvement – A high commitment to work evidenced by spending a lot of time on it
  • Drivenness – An inner compulsion or pressure to work
  • Work Enjoyment – Liking work, getting lost in it, or feeling a sense of flow in it

Initially, Spence and Robbins thought about two categories of people: workaholics and work enthusiasts. In their words, “the workaholic is highly work involved, feels compelled or driven to work because of inner pressures, and is low in enjoyment of work.” The work enthusiast, on the other hand, is “highly work involved, but unlike the latter, is high in enjoyment and is not driven.”

Six Types of Workers

When they looked at the Work Involvement, Drivenness, and Work Enjoyment of a large group of social workers, they discovered is that there weren’t just two types of workers. There were six:

  1. Workaholics
  2. Enthusiastic workaholics
  3. Work enthusiasts
  4. Unengaged workers
  5. Relaxed workers
  6. Disenchanted workers

The chart below shows how they compare on Work Involvement, Drivenness, and Work Enjoyment. 

Table showing different types of work

Reflecting on the Type of Worker You Are

The only way to know which category you fit is to take Spence and Robbin’s Workaholism Battery. There are also some newer surveys and questionnaires that can help us understand where we fall on the workaholism spectrum. And while what we come up with here won’t actually diagnose workaholism, we can still use the six work types as a point of reflection on our own dispositions toward work. 

When I consider the six types, I probably land somewhere between the enthusiastic workaholic and the work enthusiast–just depends on how driven I am. What about you?

But who cares? Why does it matter if I’m an enthusiastic workaholic or a work enthusiast? Well, I think God cares about the type of workers we are. In my next post, I’ll offer some Biblical frameworks for helping us think about the type of workers God created us to be. 


Spence, J. T., & Robbins, A. S. (1992). Workaholism: Definition, measurement, and preliminary results. Journal of Personality Assessment, 58(1), 160–178.