What is This About the Canceling of Hustle Culture?
I have a confession to make. As an entrepreneur, terms such as “the great resignation,” “quiet quitting,” and “the canceling of hustle culture” really made me angry, at least initially. They are the opposite of everything I have ever known to be the recipe for success. Everything I have ever done in my life to overachieve and to get to where I am at today. Everything I have ever preached to my sons: Show up early, do more than anyone else, give more in every situation, don’t keep score, be loyal, and always play the long game.
I didn’t want to be judgmental and jump on the “younger generations are entitled and lazy” bandwagon. I wanted to figure out what the logic was behind all of this, especially the mindset of the younger generations (Millennials and Gen Zs). I am by nature an optimist, an idealist. So I started to research, which included a lot of reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos, and asking a lot of questions. And as with anything explored with an open mind, I started seeing how and why the younger employees think and feel the way they do.
Maybe the Younger Generations Get It, and We Were Wrong
The younger generations got a front-row seat watching their parents and grandparents work their tails off as they put in extra hours, all in the hopes of building a better life for their children. They didn’t like what they saw. For many of their older family members, all that hard work didn’t end up paying off financially. It sometimes included getting laid off or working way past retirement–often up until the day they died. As for the ones for whom it did pay off financially, that too came at a cost. The greatest cost, other than regret, was a lack of solid relationships with their spouses, children, and friends. In high achievers, it is not uncommon to see patterns of high divorce rates as well as potential substance abuse and mental health struggles.
Younger Generations Say: Take Your Hustle Culture and Shove It
Elon Musk once tweeted, “Nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.” However, the Millennials and Gen Zs are unwilling to trade the hope for advancement in their professional careers at the cost of their personal lives and happiness. Hustle culture—today known as grind culture, burnout culture, or even toxic culture—refers to the mentality that one must work all day, every day in pursuit of one’s professional goals. For many, hustle culture becomes a lifestyle, an obsessive drive fueled by toxic productivity, which appears as a motivational movement with a pot of gold waiting for you at the end.
Workaholism: Which Employees Put in the Most Hours?
Society has conditioned us to believe that anyone can achieve anything if they work hard enough. The term “workaholism” refers to a go-getter who is celebrated for the 12-plus hour workday and wears it like a badge of honor, shaming those who do not do the same. What isn’t explained is, at what cost?
Today, people want more meaning in their lives. They also want lower stress levels and a balanced life, including a reasonable number of work hours per week. The pandemic was a professional awakening, prompting employees to take a pause and reflect on this hustle lifestyle. The realization was that hustle culture can be disruptive to mental and physical well-being. Consequently, many have chosen to opt out.
Live to Work, or Work to Live
All of this has led many American employees to join the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting movements. The NY Post reported that 42% of Gen Zs would rather be at a company that gives them a sense of purpose than one that pays more, compared to 40% of Millennials and 32% of Gen Xers who said the same.
It can seem easy to lump the post-Boomer generations together, but Gen Z has one very significant difference. The first of these employees born in 1997-2012 joined the workforce during the Covid-19 pandemic, with some working from home at least part of the time. A significant number of them have never experienced a traditional, 100% on-site workplace! It’s really no wonder they have such a firm, holistic vision, expecting as much fulfillment from their professional lives as from their personal ones. And they’re not afraid to demand it. Now, more than ever, the best-in-class customer experience begins with a superior employee experience.
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