Toxic productivity and the dangers of hustle culture – Breaktime Breakthroughs

Hustle culture is defined as the lifestyle of someone who continues to work and only rests for a short amount of time in pursuit of their professional goals. It is a culture where long working hours and little rest are glorified. However, it is also important for employees to take breaks, as working all the time can lead to burnout. 

According to CEO, global keynote speaker, HR consultant, and coach Daisy Callanta, the role of HR practitioners is to be on the lookout and protect their employees from hustle culture. However, those who have started their own businesses and have been in high-pressure roles know that this is easier said than done. Most often, organizations are so focused on having the best materials, the latest technology, the most awesome product, the newest innovations, and the coolest working spaces. But all these things are quite meaningless without the core of our business – the employees. 

In an episode of Breaktime Breakthroughs on Plus Network, Callanta shares more about hustle culture and the importance of work-life balance. It is critical for HR to know how to look for signs when hustle culture at work becomes a norm. Understanding what helps and what hinders productivity is of paramount importance. As the saying goes, “Your business is only as good as your employees.” It makes total sense that poorly motivated and uninspired people directly affect the overall performance of any company. 

Here are some of the reasons why organizations should move away from the mindset of overworking their employees: 

1. Hustle culture breeds a toxic sense of competition among employees – The idea that the longer we work, the more successful we’ll be is unrealistic. While healthy competition can motivate employees to do better, if they are taught that hustling is the way to earn promotions and get better opportunities, competition can turn into rivalries as workers attempt to hustle harder than each other. This culture can even hamper the company’s overall productivity.

2. Hustle Culture leads to burnout – Increased stress levels lead to reduced professional productivity. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as  resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” If people are calm and less stressed, they experience improved productivity. So when workers are in a constant state of stress because of hustle culture, they are paradoxically impairing their productivity. 

3. The “Hustle” puts value on people who work non-stop – This mindset is not sustainable. Insinuating that someone who rests is less than someone who burns the midnight oil at work is toxic. This culture creates the assumptions that the only value we have as human beings is our productivity, capability, and ability to make money. We must not measure our self-worth by the amount of time we spend working. Being productive does not equate to long hours. On the contrary, to be productive in the business, we must know when to stop. Knowing when to stop to take rest without feeling guilty is essential to mental health. This gift is rarely experienced by someone with toxic productivity.

4. People need work-life balance – In order to keep a balanced work-life schedule, work can’t overrule our downtime and homelife. There needs to be a separation of when you work and when you relax. Workers are stressed from internal and external pressures such as deadlines, work demands, and pleasing colleagues, family and friends. Employers should take into consideration their mental and physical limits. Set boundaries and put their well-being as a priority.

So to recap, hustle culture sets up unsustainable expectations, encourages an unhealthy lifestyle, and promotes unhealthy competition. Working ourselves to death should not be the trend, the norm, or the goal.

How do we balance work and life? 

Balancing work and life gives us a mental image of a see-saw, with work on one side and the rest of our lives on the other. Some might think that we’re supposed to equalize both sides by focusing on the amount of time spent on each side of the see-saw. We often hear about tips about managing our time or strategic productivity hacks to be more productive with our time and be able to create a flexible work schedule so that we can spend more time at home even if we’re working. Time isn’t the problem. We can’t balance our life in the way the see-saw image suggests. There are so many work-life balance seekers that never managed to find it. 

1. Choose work-life balance over hustle culture – It’s a choice. It doesn’t mean that most people are doing it, we have to do it. Hustle Culture is not your only option. God has given us free will to choose to make a bigger impact at work and in the world by striving  for significance over success but without sacrificing our personal health or happiness for it.

2. Know what is more important in your life – Prioritizing what’s important to you, including self-care without guilt, shame, or apology. Being present  in the moment with actual space to think. 

3. Have courage to make tough choices – It will not be easy but we have to set strong boundaries and non-negotiables that you feel good about enforcing. 

4. The willingness to simplify life – The first step is in letting go of trying and having it all. This means that work-life balance is all about feeling content with who we are and the decisions that we’re making. It begins with our mindset. Real balance brings happiness and fulfilment.  Balance is about feeling good about ourselves and being able to freely choose our career path. Both are keys in creating happiness for ourselves and bringing purpose in our lives. Take the time to think about the reasons why work-life balance is important for you.

There is a misconception that balance doesn’t work for those who want to be successful. That’s not entirely true. This misconception is based on the idea that work-life balance is settling for less. Work-life balance is a choice to create a life of success on our own terms, prioritizing and focusing on what’s important to us, ensuring our own well-being. Thereby, enabling us to serve others to the best of our abilities. Isn’t that what true success is besides a balanced lifestyle that makes you more well-rounded, creative, and productive. This means that we’ll have more ability for success and significance in both our personal and professional life

For more tips for professionals in the workplace, watch more episodes of Breaktime Breakthroughs on PLUS Network or follow WorkWise Asia on Facebook, Instagram, or visit our website. 

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