Does Hustle Culture Do More Harm Than Good?

Category: Business

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve probably come across the term ‘hustle culture’. Often admired by many, the notion of working hard is seen as a no-brainer, especially when you want to get ahead. But when does this idea become a problem? 

What exactly is hustle culture?

According to Monster, also known as burnout culture and grind culture, hustle culture refers to the mentality that you must work all day every day in pursuit of your professional goals.

Thanks in part to the Great Recession of 2008, overworking became popular among the younger generations who felt like they had to work long hours and start a side business to accomplish success in a harsh economic climate. Optimistic portrayals of this ‘rise-and-grind culture’ – especially on social media – soon normalised working harder, faster, and longer.

What is the problem with hustle culture?

Respondents to the GOBankingRates survey paint a grim picture of grind culture. About 28% of the participants said that their side hustles negatively affected their mental and physical health, raised their stress, challenged their work-life balance, and even tested their intimate relationships.

In Season 1, Episode 7 of the podcast, Sabrina got chatting to Milena Regos, Founder of Unhustle – ​​a media and training brand and a movement that inspires real living and smarter working in a culture addicted to doing. (So you can probably guess her stance on hustle culture!). 

Milena has a huge passion for getting entrepreneurs to work smarter, not harder. She shared; 

‘This cultural programming that we have – you have to work hard in order to be successful – means we end up working all the time. Tons of studies show that overwork doesn’t lead to more productivity. There is a fine line between how many hours you work and how productive you are. I want to say it’s over 65 hours a week. Your productivity takes a nosedive. So we think we’re busy, we think we’re working, we think we’re checking off emails but in reality, we’re stuck in some busy work that’s not necessarily contributing to our business success.’

‘We can’t just have work being 100% of our lives. You’re a workaholic? It’s an addiction. A lot of people are dealing with the fear of their financial security if they don’t work as much. But again, it’s scientifically proven by taking care of your well-being, making time for hobbies and for more time outside of work, you’re more creative and more productive and a higher performing individual. But it’s a habit, right? And ultimately it’s not sustainable.’

Also, certain research suggests that overworking is also detrimental to companies: employees who work long hours tend to sleep less, make more mistakes, and end up costing businesses more in health insurance, high turnover, and sick days.

How to do better than hustle culture

Hustling until you burn out doesn’t have to be the only way to get ahead in business. In fact, as we’ve learnt above, it’s basically the way to do the opposite. So, how can you work hard to achieve success without grinding like crazy? 

Milena shares her advice; 

‘Figure out a life where you’re in line with your own values and define what success means to you, rather than falling for what success means based on someone else’s definition. Your parents, what school taught you, what society says success means – it doesn’t matter. 

I see this repeatedly. People think they are career driven and financially driven and they think that once they have a certain level of material success they will be happy, but it’s the other way around.

Start first with who you are, what makes you happy, what’s the life and experience you want to have, and then what’s the work that will fulfil you, instead of overtime end up draining you.’

Ultimately, strive towards reaching a good work-life balance

Staying fresh is a good way to stay focused (and creative). So if you’re constantly working, you’re at risk of crafting monotony which can be a big hindrance to creativity – as well as your well-being. So make sure to take an adequate amount of time off, and do good things with those days. Spend time with family, travel, volunteer, and try out a new hobby. Doing so will give your mind time off to rest and recuperate.  

Another good way to achieve a good work-life balance is to work smarter, not harder. Overworking isn’t the stepping stone to success… efficiency is. And think about how much a business could save if people worked more efficiently, instead of just ‘harder’.

And don’t forget…

If there’s one thing to be learnt as a hustler, it’s that results depend on the efforts you put in. But that should never be at the expense of your health, happiness and well-being. We shouldn’t glorify overwork. Instead, we should advocate for quality work and a healthy work-life balance.