A cursory glance over LinkedIn or Twitter will yield any number of generic ‘motivational’ posts, designed to inspire and encourage workers to perform at their best; however, do these posts actually spread positivity, or are they actively encouraging workers to push themselves too hard?
An op-ed published by Journalist Matt Chittock on the Metro this morning stated that although such quotes may be intended to simply inspire, constantly pressuring workers into dedicating all their time and energy into their work is in fact only promoting a culture of burnout and poor work-life balance.
“I remember exactly when I realised how much I hated burnout culture – it was when the vegetables told me to ‘hustle harder’. Those were the words carved into cucumber at a WeWork water cooler, shared on Twitter. It was followed by photo evidence of ‘Don’t stop when you’re tired, stop when you’re done’, again on a cucumber at another shared workspace,” Chittock wrote.
“Each word validates and amplifies that guy on LinkedIn who ‘only talks to winners’ or the woman on Instagram who gets up at 4am to smash some Deepak Chopra-inspired meditation before work. I’m not shaming these people. I understand the urge to style yourself as the hardest-working mutt in a dog-eat-dog world – after all, today most of us have faff-all job security,” he added.
So what effect is this having on workers?
Whilst the damaging effects of such posts is hard to quantify, the issue of burnout is one that’s actively growing in the workplace. One in five employees worldwide are currently ‘highly engaged and close to burnout,’ according to Harvard Business Review research, whilst 41% of workers who clock in for 50+ hours per week say that their companies don’t make an effort to address the issue, according to Clockify.
Whilst ‘inspirational’ quotes don’t actively promote working until you damage your physical and mental health, they do bury their ‘always-on’ message through terminology seen to replicate start-up culture such as Chittock’s ‘hustle harder’ banana.
In an age in which workers are constantly in fear of being made redundant due to automation, the ever-fluctuating jobs market or turbulent financial forecasts, encouraging them to ‘hustle harder’ when they may well already be operating at their peak level for their own health isn’t just irresponsible, it’s actively dangerous.