I’ve been trying to catch up on some of my business reading, and in the process of doing so I just finished a Harvard Business Review article by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Luce entitled “Extreme Jobs The Dangerous Allure of the 70-Hour Workweek.” It seems that we are developing a workforce that thrives on working these long hours. The article did point out that these individuals are well compensated for the hours they work, but what concerned me was more on the price they paid for such a commitment. A commitment is not necessarily asked of them by their management. Consider the following:
The forty hour work week viewed as passé – a thing of the past. It’s hard to believe and accept this because so much was a sacrifice to get to a forty hour work week. Just check your history around labor unions and the elimination of child labor, and you will find many died to get us to a forty hour work week. Now, we are reverting back to working 50, 60 even 70 hours.
Why the change, what is happening in the workplace asking many to work longer? According to the article, people are working longer for the:
- Intellectual challenge
- The thrill of achieving something big
- Oversized compensation packages
- Working with brilliant colleagues
- Power status
As admirable as this reason may be, one has to ask but at what price? What time does one have for activities outside the workplace, what about having a balance work life?
Also, who really benefits from all this hard work, what is it doing to a person physically, and mentally? At some point, one will burn out then, what use are they to the company. Yes, we are living in the day of the knowledge worker, but one has to ask, does becoming a knowledge worker mean we have to work such extreme hours to be on top of our profession?
© Timothy A. Wilson 2018