What is 'busy bragging'? Why your colleagues might not enjoy working with you


Imagine being so busy, that all you have time to do is complain about being busy.

This phenomenon is known as "busy bragging," the act of boasting about how busy you are, to appear more professional. 

A study by the Personnel Psychology Journal found that employees who talk about how much work they have to do, are likely to be perceived as less likable, and less competent. 

Unlike "quiet quitting," and doing the bare minimum, these busy bees always have a running to-do list. 

These workers, also known as "loud laborers," make their work known to those around them, which can sometimes be off-putting to coworkers. 


Gallup: More than half of U.S. workers are ‘quiet quitting’

A poll shows that the workplace has gotten worse for younger employees, particularly those under 35 years old.

Why these employees are less likable 

The first part of the study found that "stress bragging" had negative implications for braggarts as they were perceived as less competent by coworkers.

In the second part of the study, researchers found that coworkers of stress braggers suffer higher levels of burnout due to enhanced stress crossover effects.

To determine the effects of stress bragging, 360 participants were asked to analyze statements from imaginary colleagues who had come back from a conference.

Some coworkers talked about how they enjoyed the conference while others went on about how it was just another thing on their plate.

How to spot a "busy bragger"

  • They continuously talk about how much work they have to do.
  • Not much work gets done (especially tasks assigned specifically to them).
  • They tout their successes, whether big or small.
  • They constantly seek recognition.

Essentially, these employees put more emphasis on talking about what they have to do. 

The idea of appearing more busy than you actually are is nothing new to the workforce. 

A 2023 State of Work report by Salesforce, found that nearly 32% of employees spend their time on performative work that gives the appearance of productivity. 


'Bare Minimum Mondays' are the new workplace trend

First came "quiet quitting;" now comes "bare minimum Monday" – the latest workplace trend receiving more and more support from the U.S. labor force.

Busy braggers seem to be more driven by recognition and rewards rather than the satisfaction of getting work done. 

In some cases, these employees could very well be stellar performers as well as distractions for others.

These busy beavers brag about everything on their to-do list and often toot their own horns.