Hustle Culture is Out and That's a Win for Your Health

Hustle Culture is Out and That's a Win for Your Health


 What does the word hustle mean to you? Does it stand for riches, fame, and designer buys? Or is it synonymous with being too exhausted to do anything for yourself, living paycheck to paycheck, and having no free time? 


Some think hustle culture is on the way out, seeing it as nothing more than Burnout Culture, Toxic Productivity, or Workaholism. And let us be frank, for older millennials and Gen X professionals, it's physically demanding to work the week away. Our bodies need rest. 


Plus, generation Z seems to be less interested in millennials' hustle culture, instead, they're reaching for a work-life balance with fair pay and value alignment. Articles say Gen Z wants it all— and we believe the rest of the generations should too. If hustle culture is indeed on its way out, it's a win for our collective health.



Gen z and gen y work habits



Hustle culture was a cultural and economic response to the Great Recession of 2008. But the word and the concept have been around longer than that. The modern usage originates from rapper Rick Ross and his 2006 song, Hustlin. In the song, he raps about his determination to attain money and power. The concept, however, is as old as the American Dream itself. 


Hustle culture took off after the recession because it was hard to make ends meet with a single job, especially if it paid minimum wage— forget about it. Two jobs became the bare minimum. 


During those early years of the 21st century, we understandably needed to hustle our backends off. And yeah, some of us came out of the other end better for it, but the rest came out tired. 


black woman working remotely


But whether or not it worked out for a small percentage of hardworking individuals is irrelevant. The question remains whether we should continue supporting hustle culture. The Trades Union Congress in Britain recently backed a startup app called WorkSmart. (Feel free to check it out even if the company is based in the UK, they give great advice.) Their blog argues that long working hours destroy our quality of life and health.


WorkSmart says long hours are detrimental for three reasons…


  1. Reduced Physical Activity
  2. They Support Poor Diets 
  3. They are Mentally and Physically Taxing


The accumulation of those three manifests as poor circulation, weight gain, poor sleep hygiene, lower concentration, high cholesterol, nervous system conditions, depression, and more


So is Working Less The Single Answer To Better Health?

One might argue that if we worked less, we would be happier, but that isn't entirely true. 


NBC News reported that “in 2009, the German government introduced a program that allowed companies to cut work weeks for employees, as opposed to firing them, in exchange for the government's pledge to cover remaining wages.” This resulted in Germany being listed as one of the countries whose citizens work the least but had the least motivation to work. Approximately 1 in 4 employees in the country lack the motivation to go to work


We don’t think it’s necessary to explain how torturous it is to clock into a shift already wanting to leave no matter if it’s a shorter working day. Going into a job that stresses you out takes a huge toll on your health. 


Our point is, that work/life satisfaction is important. We should at least find some sense of accomplishment during our time spent working. 


Generation Z is probably onto something: if it isn’t serving you then quit and start again. Of course, this statement can be privileged, not everyone can survive a stretch of job searching and low bank account alerts for an extended period. So in a sense, we still have to hustle, but perhaps differently. Instead of working two jobs, our second job becomes improving our competitiveness, learning, or applying for at least two to three jobs per day to accelerate the hiring process. All of this is done before we put in our resignation. Yes before. In the meantime to hold you over pay special care to your mental and physical wellbeing. 


If your manager asks you to stay over, say no. 


But if you must absolutely quit and factoring out the cost it took to commute, each lunch out, and buy work clothes comes out covering the basics — do so. Quit your job.


Additionally, you can take the Benefits Finder questionnaire if you would like to see what types of benefits you may be eligible for from the government during your time of unemployment.


How Work Satisfaction Enriches Your Life

Obliviously overworking is bad for your health but what impact does meaningful work have on your sense of wellbeing? Well, a lot. A good job can boost your feelings of life satisfaction and stave off depression and other mental health issues. As you look for your ideal job position consider your wants. Do you need a job that allows you to express skill variety, autonomy, and receive feedback? Most of us do.


Working to Meet Your Needs

When a work environment feels “positive, empathic, rewarding, and incorporates movement,” employees feel more productive. Feelings of accomplishment lead to self-esteem and self-actualization: the very top of Maslows Hierarchy of Needs. 


a graph describing maslows hierarchy of needs


Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed the Maslows pyramid to explain human motivation. To meet the high-arching tiers the base needs must be met. The model begins with the most basic needs: 


  • Meeting physiological essentials such as access to food, water, warmth, and quality sleep.  
  • Basic, safety, and social needs are called deficiency needs (esteem is also considered a deficiency need) altogether the three make up the bottom of the pyramid.
  • There are expanded versions of Maslows pyramid. The most basic model is physiological needs, safety, and social, topped by esteem and self-actualization. 


All of this to say, a good job can help fulfill those top-level needs. For example, the 'esteem level' includes feeling confident, a sense of achievement, and respect for others and from others. A career that fits can offer life satisfaction to a hardworking individual. The tier 'self-actualization' includes morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem-solving, and a lack of prejudice. Again, in the right job environment, these needs can be met and you can save your good health.


Burning the stick at both ends won't meet your needs like you think it will. So instead of a life motto such as "work hard, play hard" how about "work well, live well?"