Why hustling too hard isn’t good for business


We know you’re passionate about your business, pouring your heart and soul into making it succeed. We’re a small business ourselves, so we understand the drive to hustle, to work tirelessly towards your goals. But hustling is good until it isn’t and can lead to Toxic Hustle Culture. And, trust us, it could be costing your business.

What is toxic hustle culture?

Toxic Hustle Culture is that relentless push to work harder, longer, and faster without giving yourself a chance to rest. In fact, research by Barclaycard Payments has revealed that 80% of SMEs have continued to work when sick. It’s the belief that success is only achieved through constant hustle, regardless of the stress it creates and the toll it takes on your wellbeing and physical health. But we do understand that many of you like to ‘hustle’ (73%) and that’s not a bad thing. However, hustling too hard can have very real side effects:

You may be less creative

If you’re always on the grind you’ll have little room for creative thinking and innovation. According to a study by McKinsey, burnout can lead to a 68% decrease in creativity and problem-solving abilities. Of course, as small business owners, we know that creativity and innovation are essential for staying ahead.

You may be less productive

Contrary to popular belief, working longer hours doesn’t necessarily equate to increased productivity. In fact, research from Stanford University found that productivity declines sharply after working more than 50 hours a week. In reality, burnout leads to fatigue, lack of focus, and decreased efficiency.

You may make poor decisions

When you’re exhausted and burnt out, your decision-making abilities suffer. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to make risky and irrational decisions. As a small business owner, every decision matters, and you can’t afford to let burnout cloud your judgement.

Your relationships may suffer

Toxic Hustle Culture doesn’t just affect you; it impacts those around you too. You may neglect time with family and friends or be short-tempered with employees and clients. Healthy relationships are the foundation of a successful business.

Toxic Hustle Culture can cost your business

The consequences of Toxic Hustle Culture are very real – almost three quarters (71%) of investors confirm that they wouldn’t invest in a company that had problematic workplace culture. Research by WPI Economics also found that unhappy staff cost the economy £11 billion a year in lost productivity, while AXA research highlighted that sick days due to burnout cost the economy £28 billion.

So how can you protect yourself from Toxic Hustle Culture? We’ve partnered with Barclaycard Payments to create content, tools, and events to help you stay on the right side of hustle. So why not make a Healthy Hustle Plan today?

Sources: 1. “What is burnout?” 2023, McKinsey. 2. “The Productivity of Working Hours”, John Pencavel, 2019. 3) “Paying the price for problematic behaviour”, Culture Shift, 2023. 4) “Health, Happiness, Productivity”, WPI Economics study commissioned by Unum UK, 2023. 5) “The true cost of running on empty”, AXA UK and Centre of Economic and Business Research, 2023.

Barclaycard Payments research conducted with BVA-BDRC including a survey with a sample of 500 UK SMEs, between 22/04/24-05/04/24. Questions focused on the ‘hustle’/ normal working habits of small business owners/ key decision makers. 

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