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Opting for Work-Life Imbalance

Many employees view long hours as a necessary evil.

September 18, 2003
Related Topics: Work/Life Balance, Compensation, Benefits
Why do some employees consistently put in 60-hour workweeks and ignore employer-sponsored programs to enhance work/life balance? "Somepeople simply don’t want balance," says FutureWork Institute consultantJoseph Gibbons. "We have to stop saying that everyone should have work/lifebalance."

At Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Michael Scheidemann, assistant director ofrecruiting, says that "some employees charge forward as fast and furious asthey can, and others have decided that they don’t need to be a partner in thepractice." Ambitious fast-trackers set their own pace and "know what theyare getting into," he notes.

At the New York Times, where daily deadlines create enormous pressures formany of the newspaper’s 4,500 employees, "people complain, especially in thenews department, but they love their jobs," says Dennis L. Stern, vicepresident for human resources. "They came here knowing what the hours wouldbe. There is self-selection."

Still, there is some indication that employees view long hours as aprerequisite for advancement on the job. In a recent FutureWork Institute surveyof almost 6,000 people, "only 9 percent identifiedthemselves as fast-trackers," Gibbons says, "but 29percent of senior managers identified themselves as fast-trackers, and thattells the whole story. These people are setting the cultural standard."

Catalyst studies have identified professionals and managers who would like totake the fast track for a while and then plateau for a period. "Once youplateau, however, you are no longer seen as being on the advancement track,"says Marcia Brumit Kropf, vice president for research and information services."In many companies, re-entering the fast track is very hard and not acceptablebecause you are written off in certain ways."

Workforce, December 2002, p. 37 -- Subscribe Now!

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