Leave Toxic Hustle Culture Behind

By Carrie Dagenhard (Tech Writer)

Why is hustle culture a bad thing for IT pros? Here’s what makes “the hustle” so dangerous and how IT leaders can help end this toxic culture for good.

IT Leaders: Let's Leave Toxic Hustle Culture Behind

IT professionals have heard about toxic hustle culture ad nauseam. Maybe you even ascribe to the #RiseAndGrind mentality yourself.

But if you haven’t delved into the world of “the hustle,” let me provide a quick summary. In the context of the tech world, the hustle is the relentless pursuit of a single professional goal — like climbing the career ladder, launching a company, or achieving a certain level of income. It usually evokes ideas of strong willpower, hard work, and a willingness to sacrifice.

At first, “hustling” seems like a positive thing, especially to those who are naturally ambitious and success-driven. But this amped-up version of the age-old “work now, play later” mentality can quickly become toxic and exploitative. And this is especially true when it comes to tech leaders evangelizing the hustle in the workplace.

Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of the hustle and why IT leaders should do their part to leave hustle culture behind. 

Why is Hustle Culture A Bad Thing? 

The hustle encourages goal-setting, hard work, and prioritizing long-term payoff over short-term gratification. All-in-all, that seems harmless — and precisely the sort of mentality tech leaders strive to cultivate in their team members.

Hustle Culture body 1But there’s a difference between being a highly motivated employee and being a workaholic — it all comes down to boundaries.

Hustle culture tells us that if we want something bad enough, we’ll work around-the-clock to get it. It tells us that sacrifice and exhaustion are necessary for success. This not only sends the wrong message to IT pros but can also backfire.

Here’s Why Toxic Hustle Culture Is Dangerous:


It Leads To Burnout

“All work and no play,” as the proverb goes, “makes Jack a dull boy.” Hustle culture pushes people to their breaking point by making it OK for IT leaders to put unrealistic demands on their team — like asking or even expecting them to regularly work outside of work hours. And it’s a growing issue. According to ISACA’s Tech Workforce 2020 report, 64% of tech pros reported experiencing burnout — and we’re willing to bet this number has only grown amidst the pandemic as reliance on IT knowledge multiplied.

It Hampers Productivity 

Work-induced anxiety, chronic work stress, and exhaustion aren’t a recipe for productivity. Instead, hustle culture-induced workaholism leads to brain fog, forgetfulness, fatigue, depression, and can even negatively impact the immune system. The result? Less productivity, an increase in mistakes, and more sick days.

It’s Not Inclusive

Hustle culture celebrates performative productivity and tells IT managers to award raises and promotions to those who grind the most. But parents and others in caregiving positions, those battling chronic health issues, and those who have second jobs, for example, can’t pull all-nighters for you or stay glued to their inbox lest your organization experience an after-hours issue.


How to Reject Toxic Hustle Culture

So what can you do? As an IT leader, it’s up to you to set a healthier example. Here’s how:

Encourage Rest

Remind your employees to take regular breaks throughout the workday. If you notice someone hasn’t taken any time off in several months, suggest they take a few days to rejuvenate. Not only are breaks good for morale, but countless studies show that rest boost productivity too. And with the increased stress of worsening cybercrime and managing work-from-home IT environments, we’re willing to bet you and your employees could all use a little relaxation.            Hustle Culture body 2

Focus On Outcomes Rather Than Input

Rather than evaluating someone by how much they work, focus on what they achieve and how well they help your team meet organizational goals. For example, consider an employee’s average time to close tickets, user satisfaction ratings, or their ability to think critically, cooperate, and share new ideas.

Support Productivity With The Right Tech

Help your team work smarter, not harder. Invest in tools and solutions that help them get more done in less time and alleviate unnecessary burdens from their shoulders. Like, for example, help desk ticketing software that provides complete visibility of support issues all in one place, or an easy-to-navigate knowledgebase so technicians can spend less time hunting down information and more time solving problems.

Ambition and dedication to your work are worthy attributes, but promoting a toxic hustle culture can slash productivity, tank morale, and irreparably damage your relationship with your employees. Instead of fostering a workaholic mentality, let’s make 2021 the year we help IT pros feel supported and encouraged to do their best.

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Carrie Dagenhard
By Carrie Dagenhard

Carrie specializes in technology storytelling while residing in the "Silicon Hills" of Austin, TX.