Hustle Culture is Out — Here are 5 Principles to Embrace Instead
Once a pillar of motivational narratives about what it takes to succeed, hustle culture is out. “Hustle culture refers to a celebration of ‘the grind,’ and a lifestyle in which one’s career becomes their sole focus above all else. This involves putting your hobbies, family, and self-care aside, all in the name of reaching lofty professional goals,” says Max Wesman, COO of GoodHire.
“During the pandemic, people started to feel the challenges of a collective decline in mental health. With that came burnout, and a realization that unreasonable workplace policies could no longer be tolerated. This shift sparked what is now known as The Great Resignation.”
So if we’re no longer okay with grinding and sacrificing our wellbeing, what is the new “work hard, sleep less?” Healthy self-worth and work-life balance are at the core of it. “Many people are realizing that their self-worth and self-esteem shouldn’t stem from the work they do. Or how much of it they do. We are not designed to ‘do’ all the time. We can take time for rest, prioritize sustainability, and still remain productive,” says Shalayna Janelle, author, speaker, and creator of the productivity course “Goal with the Flow.”
Here are a few principles to embrace if you’re interested in ditching the hustle in favor of sustainable performance.
1. Redefine productivity
Hustle culture seems to spread the idea of doing more to feel better about yourself – that doing more makes you more worthy, according to Janelle. When you care about team productivity, moving away from hustle culture means redefining what being productive means and untying it from individual self-worth. “For teams that care about their performance and productivity, there’s no need to create a toxic, competitive culture,” says Wesman.
Set stretch but achievable goals. Lead by example by having a good work-life balance as a leader. Reward outcomes over hours of work.
2. Celebrate progress and wins
It’s also important to celebrate progress and wins. “This could mean going out as a team to mark the end of a big project, or recognizing an employee for their outstanding work. Creating a ‘celebration culture’ leaves no room for hustle culture to proliferate; employees are validated for their work at regular intervals, and not only during a lofty exit event such as retirement,” says Wesman.
“The main objective is to show employees that they’re meeting their professional goals, earning respect, and being successful without giving their entire life to their work. The difference it makes to your company culture and team wellness is night and day.”
3. Work well instead of overworking
In old-school cultures, putting in long hours and leaving the office after your boss is viewed as a good thing. In progressive ones, leaving at a reasonable time because you efficiently crushed your deliverables and have a life outside of the office is more respectable.
“It seems to be an unspoken rule that to get better results we need to work, work, and overwork. However, working well can yield a better outcome. This consists of streamlining your projects for efficiency,” says Janelle.
Focus on needle-moving activities instead of busy work. “The most effective ‘needle movers’ should become your core focus. This should be specific to you and your project needs,” she adds, recommending that you avoid falling into the trap of comparing your priorities to what others are doing. “What may be necessary for another may not be right for what you are moving towards. So think about how you can put in place systems that hone in on the most effective tasks [for you and your team’s goals.]”
4. Set clear boundaries
You’d be hard-pressed to say goodbye to hustle culture without saying hello to boundaries. But before setting boundaries, you need to get clear on what balance looks like for you, while also acknowledging that this can shift and evolve depending on what is going on in your personal life and at work.
“One thing to note is that balance may not always look the same in every season. So it’s not necessarily about moving half of our time to one thing and the other half to another. It’s about being clear and intentional with what we prioritize. When we don’t have that level of awareness of our own boundaries, we are almost bound to surpass our limit,” says Janelle.
For example, you may realize that you need to shift your work hours to accommodate child care needs. Or that a hybrid working model might benefit your team during a busy quarter.
“While setting a clear work-life balance and boundaries, try not to forget about any people you lead. How can you put in place principles that serve them well?” adds Janelle. “If we operate from a place of balance, that’s a win. When we are mindful of implementing strategies that allow those we work with to have balance too, it’s an even greater win.”
This sets an atmosphere where everyone can operate from a “full cup,” which leads to better work results.
Resist external pressure
When you set boundaries for the first time, you might experience push-back. It’s crucial to avoid the urge to give into demands that trample over your new guiding principles. If you feel guilty or aren’t used to protecting your time and energy in that way, Janelle recommends remembering the following factors: How these boundaries are helpful for you, as well as the reasons you’ve had to implement them and what negative outcomes they are preventing. “This can help keep you grounded when faced with the pressure to re-enter hustle culture,” she says.
Plus, by leading the way, you may just create a more positive work atmosphere for those around you – one that does not lead to burnout yet is conducive to long-term growth.