Crunch culture – you hear and see it time and time again on business news sites and channels. The phenomenon refers to staff working extended hours in a day to meet a strict deadline. It’s a particularly common occurrence in large video game and software development companies, with more than 5 percent of these businesses doing it.
According to certain reputable reports, employees are expected to work at least 50 hours a week (sometimes even more) for months on end by their managers and shareholders. A report by Business Insider even found that some workers that develop content for a free-to-play shooter game work an average of 70 hours a week. Others even pull 100-hour workweeks just to keep up.
These tight deadlines are brought on by promises that companies give their customers and clients, like game releases and downloadable content dates that will drop just in time for potentially high-profit seasons, like Christmas and Black Friday.
The Effects of Crunch
Crunch culture is a complicated phenomenon. A lot of workers would jump ship when they get a whiff of such toxic work conditions. However, the young and impressionable developers and designers in the software industry push themselves because they don’t want to lose the job of their dreams. After all, not everyone can pass the strict criteria of large game and software companies. It’s a necessary evil for a lot of employees. In the end, they’re the ones who suffer the effects of crunch.
Some employees report negative changes in their behavior because of the lack of sleep. They make more mistakes, because of the toll extended hours take on their mental and physical health. Unhappy and unhealthy employees are 1 percent less effective than workers who have a comfortable balance between their work and personal life. It’s a vicious cycle that just degrades a worker’s overall health. Employees who work extended hours and constantly do overtime have higher risks of stroke, heart disease, and anxiety and depression levels.
Every company may struggle in keeping up with the demands of its customers. However, meeting those demands shouldn’t have to come at the expense of employees’ mental and physical health. So how can your business break the mold and avoid crunch?
Hire, Hire, Hire
While you want to make the most out of your workers, you don’t want them to get burnt out because of too many tasks. Everyone needs a good break from work to rest their minds, so they can come back refreshed and productive. It’s best to spread out a job throughout multiple employees so that each of them has ample time to take mid-day breaks or even vacation leaves for their sanity. If you feel like your workforce has too much on their plate, it’s a telltale sign that your company needs more workers.
Trust Your Employees
Setting deadlines is a great way to stay organized and meet your goals. However, they tend to be too restrictive, especially when your employees feel like they’re being rushed. Whenever possible, have your workers set the deadlines for their jobs. This way, they can finish it with confidence.
It keeps them accountable for their work. And it also shows that you trust them to get their tasks done properly. Remember the phrase “respect is earned, not given?” the same goes for trust. Set these expectations with your clients, too. If they think it’s taking too long, reassure them that your new pace is for the sake of quality. After all, happy and satisfied employees will always turn in good work.
Whichever way you look at it, crunch culture is toxic. It burns out even the most talented and persevering employees. As such, you should do your best to avoid it as much as possible. When you know when you need to hire more employees and trust them to be accountable for the quality of their work, you’ll be able to minimize, and even eliminate, crunch.