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Am I a perfectionist at work?

Am I a perfectionist at work?


Perfectionism in the workplace

Perfectionism is a behaviour that is characterised as setting excessively high standards and making overly critical evaluations of one’s performance and behaviour.1 Yet, when we think of perfectionism, we often forgo the negative aspects and view perfectionism as something positive.


In a work setting, perfectionistic tendencies are associated with positive attributes such as being reliable, efficient, and organised.1 These perceptions have led to the relentless pursuit of perfectionism in the workplace.1,2 While all these attributes may be desirable on paper, setting excessively high expectations for one’s self may be the biggest obstacle that employees face when pursuing their goals.


Perfectionism Cycle & Employee Wellbeing

The perfectionism cycle is often called the "perfectionism paradox".2 Setting such excessively high standards results in disengagement and burnout from work, which paradoxically hinders one from achieving their expectations.3


Recent studies have found that because perfectionists worry more about work than non-perfectionists, they find it difficult to "switch off" and relax after work.4 This increases the likelihood of employee burnout as perfectionistic behaviours can negatively affect employee work-life balance, physical health, and general well-being.4


Figure 1. Perfectionism Paradox

To break out of the perfectionism cycle, adjusting your excessively high standards is not enough - it is important to question them instead. By truly understanding what influences these standards, you can get a clearer idea if these goals are a healthy and helpful quest of excellence or an unhealthy and unhelpful pursuit for perfection.

Download the Intellect App to learn more about Perfectionism:

1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/job.2400

2. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2017-57603-001

3. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.0963-7214.2005.00326.x

4. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327957pspr1004_2

5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17201590/