When Did Performative Workaholism Become A Lifestyle and Why Isn’t It Sustainable?

For most of us, Monday morning–and every other weekday morning–starts with moans and groans, rolling out of bed, and a lot of coffee. Others start their day with a workout, an ice mask to reduce that morning puffiness, or a long shower. If you do a little searching, you can even find how the most successful people start their day–spoiler alert, just like the rest of us, but with more money and more time on their hands. Whatever it is, we all have a morning routine to help us power through the work week. But that doesn’t mean we’re itching the get the week started.

That is, unless you’re part of #hustle culture.

#Hustle culture, essentially, is the term “rise and grind” in human form. They are obsessed with the hustle and showing off how hard they work to their friends on Instagram. Their morning, afternoon, and evening routine is always the same: work.

Hustle culture is all about working until you physically can’t anymore. Places such as WeWork and other startups use this type of culture to push their employees to always be focused on work and to not stop working until everything is done. Though this doesn’t sound like a bad idea, it can sometimes lead to negative outcomes.

This is what is now referred to as performative workaholism.

You’ve more than likely seen it all over Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn; friends fusing their social identities with their work identities. As I see more and more of my friends moving up in the workforce, I see more work-related posts on their socials, because society has determined if you aren’t constantly working, then you’re lazy, and to appear ambitious you have to plaster it all over social media.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with promoting your company’s brand, or your own personal brand online. It not only helps attract more talent and interest in you and your organization, it also shows your dedication to the brand.

But companies promoting don’t-stop-when-you’re-tired-stop-when-you’re-done culture are in danger of steering their organization directly into burnout. Burnout culture is the consequence of performative workaholism.

According to David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried, authors of “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work,” data shows that although long hours don’t enhance creativity or productivity, fallacies about overwork continue on because of those that profit from the obsessive work done by lower-level employees.

So how can workplaces promote creativity and productivity without taking their employees to the point of burnout?

Well, let me leave you with 3 easy ways to start:

  1. Don’t make employees think they have to break their backs to live up to extremely high, unattainable standards. Encourage your team to strive to be their best but do it in a manner that lets them know it’s okay to make mistakes. Set mutually agreed upon goals and standards so your team knows exactly what is expected. Not to mention letting your team get in on the goalsetting process inspires them take more pride and ownership in their work.
  2. Show your team that their ability to work isn’t the only value they have as a human. Your employees aren’t just people that work for you, they are people first and foremost. Let them know that their hard work is appreciated, but also show your appreciation for them as humans. This is as easy as taking the time to ask your team if they have any good news to share or what interests they’ve been spending time on outside of your company walls.
  3. Encourage more autonomy. Without you watching your employees’ every move and micromanaging them, they will feel less stressed while at work and perform better at their jobs. They will also feel more comfortable bringing their own ideas to the table that could give processes a much-needed shakeup.

Pushing your team to their breaking point isn’t good for anyone involved. However, promoting hard work and providing a purpose will make your team more willing to perform and more likely to return to work refreshed every day.

Don’t burnout your talent before they’ve had the chance to really show you what they’ve got.

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