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June 2019
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TD Magazine

Workism

In short, people work too much. Workism is the belief that work is not only necessary to economic production but also the centerpiece of one's identity and life's purpose; and the belief that any policy to promote human welfare must always encourage more work.

As far back as 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted a 15-hour workweek in the 21st century. Although the average work year has shrunk by more than 200 hours, the decrease in time hasn't been nearly that exaggerated. In fact, many groups—such as men in the upper 10 percent financially—are working more than before.

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There is a belief that workism is essentially a religion. Rich men are choosing to work the same way religious people go to church—it's simply where they feel most at peace. Millennials are the same way. They are encouraged to never stop hustling, which may also be due to pressure to showcase their best selves on social media.

In some sense, it seems like many workers view extreme work success similarly to a higher being, when in reality it is, as Derek Thompson of The Atlantic states, "a falsifiable god, which rejects the vast majority of its worshippers." The goal of working should be to be efficient and buy yourself free time, not more work. Enjoy some of your time, and stop hustling so hard.

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About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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