A majority of overworking employees say the extra effort has a positive effect on their life.
Working effectively and in a satisfactory manner is certainly important in order to maintain a job and, ultimately, progress in it. You can be a great worker who does the job well and still maintain a healthy work-life balance. But when does striving for success go too far and start contributing to a more toxic culture at work?
Hustling, in a workplace setting, is best described as going to greater lengths beyond the norm to succeed and overextending yourself in your job. In today’s world, a culture that glorifies overworking puts unfair pressure on people to commit themselves to a job beyond what’s reasonable.
If one or two employees regularly work overtime to get ahead, it can put pressure and guilt on co-workers to keep up. If leadership doesn’t keep those habits in check (or if they themselves require or encourage it), employees can lose sight of the importance of a healthy work-life balance.
We surveyed 1,001 employees who work closely with others to get a sense of the climate at their job; whether they feel they have overworking co-workers or bosses who create an unfair culture; and how common it is for employees to work overtime. Read on to learn more.
- Nearly 3 in 4 (71%) full-time employees overwork at least once every week, and nearly half (48%) overwork several times per week.
- More than half (52%) of full-time employees said overworking increased their overall life satisfaction.
- Nearly 2 in 3 supervisors have downplayed or dismissed an employee’s concern about being overworked.
- More than 2 in 5 (42%) full-time employees want after-hours work banned by their employer.
The Pressure of a Demanding Workplace
There’s a difference between feeling motivated to do your best work and overextending yourself because you feel pressured to keep up with employees who are intentionally trying to overwork themselves.
The more that happens, the easier it is for strenuous work culture to become the norm. There has been a pretty seismic shift in the thinking around hustling and even a more common acceptance that terms like “work family” are toxic and contribute to this unhealthy culture where you are expected to become wrapped up in your job.
In the first part of our study, we wanted to get a sense of how often employees worked too hard or too often each week, and how many of them experienced pressure, high expectations, excessive workloads, and more.
Encouragingly, the majority of respondents said they only overworked two to three days per week (29%), and the same amount said they overworked less than weekly. Just 5% said they overworked six to seven days a week. In a time where young people especially are leaving behind less-than-ideal jobs and realizing that their life doesn’t have to revolve around their job, it’s encouraging to see people hustling less than some might expect.
That said, 56% of respondents said they were regularly experiencing intensity and high pressure at work, while 53% said they regularly worked early or late. This, in many ways, emphasizes much of the underlying cause of a movement like the Great Resignation and the overall shift in thinking on workplace culture.
The “Why” of Workplace Hustling
The pressure to be perceived as “productive” at work can be pretty intense, especially when there are co-workers who create a precedent for that sort of climate in the workplace. The idea of your job consuming your life isn’t new, but it’s something that is finally being seen through a different lens thanks in part to the pandemic and people’s shifting priorities.
Each person has their own motivations for working in the way they do. However, the next part of our study showed that there are some common factors that contribute to a toxic culture of overworking.
Women were more likely than men, according to our findings, to feel pressure to overwork from coworkers and superiors, while men were more likely to feel pressure from society and culture in general. That said, 65% of respondents overall said they felt pressure to overwork from work superiors.
Seventy-seven percent said that job requirements were largely what caused them to feel the need to overwork, with employer expectations being the top reason for excessive rwork (43%) among respondents. There are ways for both employers and employees to combat these factors while maintaining a high level of output, such as budgeting time effectively and remaining flexible when facing delays, pivots, and other inevitable workplace challenges.
The Good and the Bad
Of course, not every employee perceives excessive dedication to work negatively. In fact, many even believe there can be benefits to extra effort. It almost goes without saying that working too much makes you more productive and may ultimately put you on a faster track to success.
But the downsides, like limiting personal and family time in favor of working and negative impacts to mental health, may outweigh the positives for most people.
While hustling may not be easy, a majority of respondents said it actually increased their overall life satisfaction. Additionally, a majority of respondents noted a positive impact on various aspects of their job, including productivity (64%), quality of work (58%), and even their loyalty to their employer (55%).
That said, more than three in four (77%) admitted that hustling harmed their work-life balance. A healthy work-life balance is a key component of mental health, but it’s also an important factor in workplace performance. By taking steps to avoid burnout, you can accomplish more in the long run.
What Should Be Done
One of the most extreme consequences of overworking culture is burnout, which is something that happens from a number of combined factors—not the least of which might be the mental, emotional, and financial fallout from the pandemic.
Burnout is a dangerous thing, and some workplaces encourage it. So what are employers doing, if anything, to ensure that people have a better work-life balance and feel less pressure to work themselves to the point of burning out?
Sixty-six percent of respondents in our study said they brought a concern about being overworked to their supervisor, and among them, roughly 1 in 3 said their supervisor either downplayed, ignored, or denied their concern.
However, 39% said their supervisor attempted to address it. While addressing this problem may look different for every company and every employer, there has been plenty written about ways employers can combat overworking and ultimately create a much healthier work environment.
While many companies are making attempts to address the issues that come with overworking, we decided to ask employees what they’d like to see. Among our respondents, the top ways that they want their companies to address overworking included setting clear boundaries for hours (60%), banning tasks outside of work hours (43%), and providing more breaks (41%).
The Future of Working
Our study emphasizes just how common overworking is, and shows that employees have felt real pressure to overachieve and commit themselves unnecessarily to a job in order to meet a perceived level of success.
The real-world ramifications of excessive commitment to work are unfortunately common. That said, there does seem to be a profound shift happening where people are finally taking charge of their professional lives and finding better situations for themselves.
One of the best ways to do that is to start your own business, and Inc and Go can help you do it. Our mission is to help everyday Americans start successful businesses by providing resources and services that will guide them through the process and make it even easier to get off the ground. If you’re looking to make a change and be your own boss, stick around and learn more.
Methodology and Limitations
For this analysis, we surveyed 1,001 full-time employees using the Amazon MTurk platform. Our margin of error for this study is +/-3% with a 95% confidence level. These data rely on self-reporting, and potential issues with self-reported data include telescoping, selective memory, and exaggeration.
Fair Use Statement
We all know someone who works too much (or several of them), and you’re welcome to share this study with whomever you’d like. We just ask that you link back to this page, and that you not reproduce these data for commercial purposes.