Shows on hoarding are one of the constants of reality TV. Through these shows hoarding, which is a mental health disorder, has become a part of the general public’s lexicon. On the shows people hoard a variety of items in their homes and on their property. However, hoarding behavior isn’t limited to personal spaces. There’s a group of people, much larger than the average person would imagine, who hoard at work too.
Hoarders have an on-going difficulty discarding tangible and intangible possessions. This is because of a perceived need to save things since they made be needed, be of use or have value in the future. A person with the disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of or sharing the items. This results in the excessive accumulation of “stuff”, regardless of its actual value or usefulness.
Hoarding isn’t limited by geography. It isn’t specific to a person’s home environment. It’s behavior which also can be observed in a work setting. Almost everyone has worked with or heard stories about someone who shows signs of hoarding behavior in the work place. There are 4 main ways it manifests.
Equipment/tools – Small businesses have been bankrupted due to the hoarding of the owner. This is particularly true when it comes to machinery, vehicles and tools. They’re unable to get rid of old or unusable equipment. Some have been known to leave obsolete machinery on the shop floor, taking up space needed for income producing machines.
Tool hoarding has lead to spending too much money (profit) on unneeded and unused tools. Or it may cause the owner to be unable to throw away broken, outdated or miscalibrated tools, resulting in lost time, poor quality control and noncompetitive manufacturing practices.
Supplies – Almost everyone knows or has heard of “the supply lady”. This is the person who’s in charge of the supplies. She has more Post-Its, pens and coffee creamer than the company will ever need, behaves as if they’re her personal property, and doles them out grudgingly.
Inventory – Some business owners become emotionally invested in their inventory, both raw materials and finished goods. This is one of the hallmarks of hoarding – objects create feelings of well being and security. They carry too much product in the misguided belief that they may need it someday. The business becomes insolvent when it’s unable to turn or support the expense of its inventory.
Information – Household paper items (i.e. mail, newspapers, and magazines) are commonly hoarded. This is, also, true in the work place. The depiction of an office worker unable to find anything among his over flowing stacks of paper is a cliché. However, the stacks of paper are being replaced by information hoarding via electronics.
Electronic devices allow a hoarder to accumulate information faster and from more places. In addition, they make it easier to hide the behavior for longer periods of time. It’s an emerging business problem that’ll continue to grow. Some companies are dealing with information being inaccessible or lost when an employee has too much irrelevant and extraneous information on their business devices to find it.
The symptoms and consequences of hoarding range from mild to severe. In some cases it may not have much impact on a person’s personal life and job, while in other cases it seriously affects their thoughts, emotions and behaviors on a daily basis. It’s just a matter of time before there’s a workplace segment of Hoarders.