4 signs your team is suffering from a busy culture


Hustle culture is the glorification of all work and no play. Not only regular work, but also overtime. Crowd-culture adherents see hustling as a way to achieve their financial and professional goals. And they’re not necessarily wrong, at least in the short term. The more hours you work, the more money you can potentially earn and the more recognition you can get.

Over time, however, performance can turn into fatigue and fatigue can take away the urge to achieve. Spending all day, every day at work, takes its toll on your body, mind and performance. Even if you alternate it by having a regular job and then a little “side business,” you may still find yourself working all the time. That is not good for one’s physical or mental health.

According to World Health Organization researchWorking more than 55 hours a week increases your risk of stroke by 35% and heart disease by 17%. Ironically, it’s not hard for a crowd pleaser to cross that 55-hour threshold. Real scammers would see that as a bare minimum.

While you may be sitting here thinking it could never be you, it’s easier than you might imagine to fall victim to the hustle and bustle of the culture. During the pandemic, many people who started working from home found it difficult to set healthy boundaries. As a result, they were “on call” 24/7 and accidentally joined the crowds.

As a leader, you are undoubtedly concerned about the well-being of your employees. One way to make sure they don’t burn the candle on both sides is to look for the signs of busyness within your organization. Below are some of the key indicators to look out for and what to do if you see them.

1. PTO remains untouched.

The busy culture frowns on taking a night off, let alone consuming the PTO. A quick way to evaluate how busy your organization is is to view your team’s PTO stats. Are days used? Holidays are included? If not, it may be time to intervene. Jane Huston, senior vice president of human resources at OneSource Virtual, explains that working overtime is “kind of dehydration — by the time you feel it, it’s too late.”

She continues, “Taking time off should be encouraged, not just when you feel like you need a break, but well before that to avoid burnout.” So, what can you do as a boss? Spending time on your next face-to-face meetings with employees to plan their upcoming vacations Set a PTO goal for your organization, just like you would for any other goal.

2. Everyone is constantly multitasking.

It may be easy to think that “multitasking” is more productive, but the science says otherwise. A study quoted by Brain World Magazine suggesting that the brain is set up with natural ‘bottlenecks’. These bottlenecks cause delays between the transfer of information from one part of our brain to another. In multitasking, items are really just moving through a “queued” list in the brain – each item lacks the attention it deserves.

Getting off the multitasking train can be as easy as getting organized. Instead of encouraging your employees to do everything at once, give them tools to prioritize their to-do lists and check one box at a time.

3. You haven’t heard ‘no’ from anyone for a long time.

If you ask someone to do something, are you 99% sure you’ll hear “yes” no matter what? Maybe that’s not a good thing. Employees who load their plates run the risk of not completing tasks properly or on time. They may also become overwhelmed and embarrassed to admit that they bit off more than they could chew.

Train your team members in the art of saying “no” every now and then. For example, if you know that a direct report will accept any project and come in on the weekends, talk about it. Explain that you are satisfied with the contributions, but are concerned that your employee may overextend themselves. Teaching someone how and when to say no can have a surprisingly positive effect on their overall well-being. Sometimes people just need permission.

4. Team members consistently arrive early, stay late, and work weekends.

It may sound like a dream come true to have a team of workaholics. Still, these go-getters are probably not as effective or efficient as you might think. At some point, everyone needs a break. As noted in a recent academic study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, both post-work recovery and periodic breaks at work are needed to keep production levels and output higher.

How do you ensure that your employees turn the switch? Make it mandatory – and do it yourself. When you turn off your laptop at 5:30 PM and don’t answer Slack messages until the next morning, except in emergencies, your coworkers get the picture. Plus, they’ll be less concerned that you expect them to. Often overtime stems from the fear that the boss will retaliate if employees take enough time to freshen up and recharge. By showing your team that you follow the rules, you give them the right to do the same.

Hustle culture may sound exciting and energetic, but it’s all an illusion. The better way to keep your employees on track and meeting their goals is to avoid the crowds and strive for a better work-life balance.


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