Thursday, February 01, 2007

Working harder than ever - and lovin' it

This is a slightly extended version of my piece which appeared in Businessworld magazine, issue dt 29 Jan 2007

The 'Extreme Job' Syndrome
by Rashmi Bansal

IT is the latest buzzword in yuppiesphere. ‘Extreme jobs’ are screwing up lives and yet, they are on the rise. A recent study published in Harvard Business Review (HBR) notes that 52 per cent of America’s top income earners is working more than 70 hours a week (sample: 1,564 respondents). Extreme hours, extreme demands and extreme pay packets form a heady cocktail — sleep, sex and serenity be damned.

The HBR study, ‘Extreme Jobs: The Dangerous Allure of the 70-Hour Workweek’, co-authored by Sylvia Ann Hewlett, president of the Center for Work-Life Policy in New York, drops scary statistics, but much of it along expected lines. Nearly 50 per cent of those who work these gruelling hours say it has affected their sex life; 46 per cent believe it is affecting their marriage as a whole.

So, what is new? Workaholism has long been recognised as an unhealthy way of life. “The nation’s best-dressed addiction,” says Bryan E. Robinson, author of a handbook on workaholism titled Chained To The Desk. In an interview to Forbes magazine, Robinson noted, “Workaholics often come from dysfunctional homes and have learnt that putting in crushing hours helps calm their anxiety about other aspects of life.” Like alcohol or drug addiction, it only masks the underlying problem, and creates more.

The ‘extreme jobs’ phenomenon, however, goes beyond. While some folks in extreme jobs would qualify as ‘workaholics’, most of them are otherwise happy, well-adjusted people. They don’t lack confidence or self-esteem. They are not bitter and crotchety. And they would be happy to ‘switch off’ from work. If it were not for that buzzing BlackBerry.

At least, that is what Hewlett’s study would have you believe. She classified a job as ‘extreme’ if it entailed working for 60 hours or more a week and at least five additional performance pressures including 24x7 client demands, profit and loss responsibility, and frequent travel. Technology, globalisation of work and leaner work forces are contributing factors. But let us scratch below the surface.

The single most revealing aspect of the HBR study is that the majority of these extreme workers love their jobs. What’s more, only 43 per cent of men and 28 per cent of women listed high financial compensation as the reason for being in an extreme job situation. Money is a definite ego boost but not the primary motivation. It is the adrenaline rush that the work provides — a kick that is much harder to come by in ‘life’.

Let’s face it. Once the honeymoon is over, marriage is something you have got to work at. Kids are lovable but as Hillary Clinton once said, it takes a village to raise a child. And we haven’t got any villages to depend on any more. Day-to-day, family life is like drifting along in a slow boat, and work is one non-stop transatlantic adventure. Unlike the workaholic of yore, extreme workers may not be using work as a refuge from life. But the new workaholic uses work as his primary trip — the part of life that provides challenge and stimulation, a sense of control, of tangible return.

So, what is wrong with that? Nothing, perhaps. But not too long ago, work was what you did so you could lead a life. Life, like work, was steady and routine. You ate, slept, spoke and sat around as a family. You did these things year after year and one day woke up to find your kids grown up and ready to start their own families. And so the cycle continued. Work wasn’t ‘who you are’, just what you did.

Now, it is quite the opposite. “Meet XYZ, working with ABC” is how introductions are made. Work is what provides a sense of identity. And so you embrace it. In the new, extreme economy, the more you love your work, the more it loves you back. You get more recognition, rewards, and a sense of satisfaction for a ‘job well done’.

And you get it instantly. Overachievers or “road warriors”, as Hewlett calls them, are addicted to doing stuff that takes them closer to some tangible goal. Timeframe? The next quarter.

On the other hand, there are no quick fixes in ‘life’. If your child eats beans, he will be healthy and is likely to do well in life. And one day, you will feel proud and he will be thankful for it. Meanwhile, you are engaged in a battle at the dinner table where logic and reason, bribes and threats have no effect. And you can’t even fire the person!

The bottom line is that technology and globalisation are to blame for ‘extreme jobs’. But so is ambition and greed; not just for money, but for constant stimulation and excitement. It is a choice we are making with our eyes open and hearts willing. We may say we want ‘balance’ in life, but are afraid it may bore us to death. Extreme jobs? Expect them to remain extremely alluring.

Except for women - they are simply opting out. The HBR study found that only 20% of extreme job workers are female. And of that small pool, 80% have ‘one foot out of the door’. They do not want to work this hard, under this kind of pressure, for more than 12 months. There are men who feel that way as well, but only 58%.

The truth is, extreme jobs are possible only when there is someone to manage the mundane and the domestic. And except for the rare instances where the man takes off the pants and puts on the apron, that someone is the woman. When life as a dual-career couple gets too complex, crazy or exhausting, she exercises the ‘choice’. Of leading a life more ordinary, but free. At least from that guilty feeling of not being a good mommy.

So what about that adrenalin rush? She gets it from her new role – bringing up perfect, all around accomplished kids. The kind who attend the best school, have the right friends, don’t eat junk food and watch only Animal Planet on television.

Long hours, constant demands, close-to-impossible goals to achieve. Sounds like yet another extreme job– minus the pay!

11 comments:

  1. The single most revealing aspect of the HBR study is that the majority of these extreme workers love their jobs.

    That may be one part of it - but it also may not necessarily be true for all extreme workers.

    A large number of fresh engineering and other graduates are recruited primarily for what is called gadha-mazdoori - donkey work. So they are the ones pushing paper till late at night, colecting or attempting to colect payments for the sales departments of various companies, meeting targets and deadlines, filling up Excel spreadsheets and figuring out SAP tools becaus "the month end is approaching"

    Companies know that these freshies will go away as soon as they get a better offer or admission to higher studies, and squeeze them for all its worth. It's a circle, and a self-defeating one.

    I'm lucky, I'm in technical research and work life is not remotely hellish. But enough of my friends are not as fortunate as I am.

    ReplyDelete
  2. unfortunately for extreme jobs this love does not ever last...one's role changes and the part of the jobs that we hate might become more and slowly the infatuation wears off.

    I posted about the same phenomenon in Dec and my readers were vehement in opposing it :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hindsight makes you realize that the extra hard work on a project doesn't make much of a difference. The idea is to learn from them. But the only advantage of that experience is that you recognise the mistake when you repeat them!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are screwed if your boss has this syndrome :D

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Rashmi! Just came across ur blogger profile.

    I think u hv summed it up pretty well here in this article... especially the last line... "Long hours, constant demands, close-to-impossible goals to achieve. Sounds like yet another extreme job– minus the pay!"

    Guess that truly is the REAL "adrenalin rush"... meeting these "close-to-impossible goals", which even technology n globalisation cannot help much in achieving!

    Call me a feminist if u will, I have no say in this as the scales are dipped way too low in favour of the females (80% F vs 58% M non-extreme workers!)... but isn't it like "taking-the-easy-way-out" when you work just for yourself - your thrill, your excitement, your fat wallet, your ambitions, your material possessions (blah blah)? Doesn't it appear to be a sort of cowardly approach to the other things in your life which you can't control so easily, viz. the tears of ur kids when life serves them disappointments, the emotional dramas of ur family, the first heartbreak of ur little girl.........

    It feels like u don't believe urself to be capable of keeping ur judgement intact under THESE real-time situations/problems... n so u simply dedicate urself completely to WORK, so tht every new milestone covered thr cud boost ur ego a little more n add another feather-on-ur-cap n help u bask in glory... while u urself know deep down somewhr tht this so-called SUCCESS is just a lie - a false, make-believe bed-time-story!

    And then... what happens when u finally wake up from this dream-world one day? When u realize u hv missed ur kids growing up, their first ball, their first hockey game, their first stage show in school...... or worse... u never even had the time to have kids!........

    ReplyDelete
  6. In today's world there is no work-life balance, but you do have work-life choices. Sometimes the work gets the first priority and there are times when life runs the show.

    If you are part of the Offshore Development in India, then the communication tips on my blog might help be assertive in achieving that choice.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Rashmi,
    You blog is great, especially the things you write related to today's women.I also write a lot about this.
    Visit my blog sarasid.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. 减速机 齿轮减速机 SEW减速机 摆线针轮减速机 蜗轮蜗杆减速机 interlining
    明星代言 明星经纪公司
    制动单元 铝壳电阻
    modern abstract art sofa manufacturer
    净水器 开水器 净水机 净水 软水机 软水 直饮机 家用净水 家用净水器 家用净水机 中央净水 中央净水器 水家装 水家电 水卫士 混合机
    过滤机 DHL快递 俄罗斯签证 回转支承 Laser marking
    保险箱 法兰 法兰标准
    polycarbonate sheet 回流焊 波峰焊
    压球机 注册上海公司 儿童摄影
    牛皮癣 皮肤病 制氮机
    食堂售餐机 校园一卡通
    学校一卡通 ic卡售饭机
    食堂售饭机 深圳一卡通
    广东售饭机 机电设备安装
    北京发票 代开发票
    餐饮发票 住宿发票
    广告发票
    网络电话 免费网络电话
    假发 补发
    织发 植发
    压滤机 板框压滤机
    蒸馏水机 纯蒸气发生器
    上海搬家公司 上海搬场公司
    大众搬家 大众搬场
    张家界旅游 香港旅游
    深圳旅行社 打包机
    收缩机 对讲机 电源模块
    血管栓塞剂
    售饭机 水控机 水控器
    萎缩性胃炎 neoprene laptop bags
    SEO优化
    SEO优化 计量泵
    胃炎 胃病
    冷水机 冰水机
    工业冷水机
    北京特价机票 北京打折计票 北京国际机票
    北京机票预定 北京飞机票
    北京订机票 北京机票查询 饮料机械
    银杏 水培花卉 企业宣传片 空分设备
    化工泵 离心机
    电话交换机 程控交换机 集团电话 集装袋
    混合机 混合机
    混合机捏合机 捏合机
    捏合机导热油炉 导热油炉
    导热油炉 反应釜 反应釜
    反应釜 spherical roller bearing
    搬运车 搬运车 电动搬运车 油桶搬运车 堆高车 电动堆高车 半电动堆高车 堆垛车
    高空作业平台车 电动叉车 平衡重叉车 前移叉车 电瓶叉车
    韩国饰品批发 模块电源
    X架 超薄灯箱> 易拉宝 展柜制作
    代理服务器 游戏加速器 网络加速器
    网通加速器 电信加速器 电信网通转换器
    电信网通加速器 网通电信互转
    网通电信互通 网络游戏加速器
    美国VPN代理 美国独享VPN 美国独享IP
    pvc ceiling panel Spherical roller bearings
    SEO优化
    安全鞋 劳保鞋 防砸鞋 电绝缘鞋 上海安全鞋 上海劳保鞋 江苏劳保鞋
    服装软件 服装管理软件 进销存软件
    进销存管理软件 服装管理系统 服装进销存软件
    进销存系统 进销存管理系统 免费进销存软件
    吉林中医 东北特产
    打包机
    阳痿 阴茎短小 阴茎增大
    早泄 前列腺炎 阴茎增粗 阴茎延长
    国际机票 上海国际机票
    国际特价机票 国际打折机票
    砂磨机 砂磨机
    砂磨机 卧式砂磨机
    卧式砂磨机 卧式砂磨机
    三辊研磨机 三辊研磨机
    三辊研磨机 混合机 混合机
    混合机 锥形混合机 锥形混合机 锥形混合机 行星动力混合机 行星动力混合机 行星动力混合机 无重力混合机 无重力混合机 无重力混合机
    干粉砂浆设备 干粉砂浆设备
    干粉砂浆设备 捏合机 捏合机 捏合机 导热油炉 导热油炉 导热油炉 反应釜 反应釜 反应釜 搪玻璃反应釜 搪玻璃反应釜 搪玻璃反应釜
    乳化机 涂料设备 干混砂浆设备 无重力混合机 胶体磨 涂料成套设备 双螺旋混合机
    北京婚庆 北京婚庆公司
    400电话
    办证 呼吸机 制氧机
    亚都 亚都加湿器 亚都净化器
    亚都装修卫士
    饰品批发 小饰品批发 韩国饰品 韩国饰品批发 premature ejaculation penis enlargement
    安利产品 马来西亚留学
    网站优化 网站推广
    衬布
    代写论文
    代写论文
    论文代写 代写论文
    磁力泵
    离心泵
    化工泵
    隔膜泵
    螺杆泵
    潜水泵
    油泵
    耐腐蚀泵
    水泵
    拖链 防护罩 排屑机 塑料拖链 钢铝拖链
    化工离心泵
    计量加油泵
    自吸式离心泵
    管道油泵
    自吸式排污泵
    潜水排污泵
    自吸式磁力泵
    耐高温磁力泵
    不锈钢多级离心泵
    多级离心泵
    耐腐蚀自吸泵
    自吸化工泵
    玻璃钢液下泵
    液下式排污泵
    卧式离心清水泵
    氟塑料磁力泵
    磁力驱动循环泵
    耐腐蚀污水泵
    卧式化工离心泵
    玻璃钢耐酸泵
    防爆管道油泵
    不锈钢多级泵
    立式多级离心泵
    塑料磁力泵
    水泵厂
    手摇油泵
    上海水泵厂
    上海水泵
    离心泵厂家
    热水泵
    清水泵
    气动隔膜泵
    深圳装饰 深圳装饰公司 深圳装修公司
    特价机票 打折机票 国际机票
    机票
    新风换气机 换气机 立式新风换气机 风机箱 新风系统 能量回收机
    搅拌机 混合机 乳化机
    分散机
    毛刷 毛刷辊 工业毛刷 刷子 钢丝刷
    涂层测厚仪 硬度计
    兆欧表 激光测距仪
    测振仪 转速表
    温湿度计 风速仪
    超声波测厚仪
    粗糙度仪
    噪音计 红外测温仪
    万用表
    硬度计 万用表
    美容院 美容加盟
    澳洲留学 澳大利亚留学
    什么是法兰
    电烤箱
    酒店预定 北京酒店预定 北京酒店
    离心机
    nail equipment nail products nail product nail uv lamp nail uv lamp nail uv lamps uv nail lamp nail brush
    nail file nail tool nail tip nail gel curing uv lamps lights
    万用表 风速仪
    红外测温仪 噪音计
    苗木价格 苗木信息 标牌制作 深圳标牌 北京儿童摄影 防静电鞋 淘宝刷信誉
    威海凤凰湖 威海海景房 大庆密封件
    打标机 淘宝刷信誉 TESOL/TEFL国际英语教师证书 英语教师进修及培训 北京快递公司 北京国际快递

    ReplyDelete
  9. 活得真累,有些时候我们会禁不住的这样感叹,那些不顺心的日子,我们也总感觉活 wow gold 得真烦。在寻找了千百种理由之后,当我蓦然回首曾经走过的那些岁月,我惊然的发现,其实生活赐予我的,并没 wow power leveling 有与别人有什么的不同,呈现在我视野里的生活,每个人其实都一样,不同的仅仅是我们的胸襟中缺少一份“坦然”。   当看见那些假日的钓鱼者,一大早的出门,在夕阳下却拎着空空的鱼篓回家时,一路上却留下欢声笑语。

      当看见那些早出晚归的农民,在晚霞的辉映下回家时,那张写满疲倦的脸上 wow gold 却洋溢着朝霞一样的笑容。

      当看见那些恋人在分手时,虽然脸上带着一份无奈的笑容,眼里带着一份淡淡的忧伤,但却依然潇洒的挥挥手,互道一声珍重时,不禁内心会这样的感叹,坦然真好!

      突然想起来这样的一句话“天空留不下我的痕迹,但我已飞过”其 wow power leveling 实,这不就是对坦然最好的诠释。

      如果失败是一种人生经历,那么这种经历却会使我们成熟,如果说一个人的成熟必须历尽沧桑的话,那么我想,沧桑就是一种美丽。

      我坦然,于是我心美丽!我心 replica rolex 美丽,于是人生跟着美丽。

      坦然,是一种失意后的乐观!坦然,是沮丧时自我的一种调整。

      坦然,其实就是平淡中的一份自信!坦然 wow power level 是一份快乐!是一种潇洒!

      在人生中,许多的成败与得失,并不是我们都能预料到的,很多的事情也并不是我们都能够承担得起的,但,只要我们努力去做,求得一份付出后的坦然,其实得到的也是一种快乐!

      生活里许多的人,我们是捉摸不定的,甚至 power leveling 防不胜防。但,我们不必去计较,更不必去埋怨,我们唯一做的是,当我们必须去面对他们的时候,同样的奉上我们的真心。以君子之心度小人之怀,那不正显示我们的博大的胸襟吗?

      我曾经爱过也哭过,曾经功成名就过,也 rolex replica 曾失败没落过。但,当我回首这一切的时候,我仍然感到骄傲,因为:我曾勇敢地面对了这一切,且光明而磊落!

      假如生活给我们的只是一次又 lotro gold 一次的挫折,一次又一次的失败,其实,这也没什么的,因为那只是命运剥夺了我们活的高贵的权利,但并没有夺走我们活的快乐和自由的权利。

      没有蓝天的蔚蓝,我们 rolex 可以有白云的飘逸。

      没有大海的壮阔,我们可以有小溪的悠然。

      没有草原的芬芳,我们可以 power leveling 有小草的青翠。

      因为生活里是没有旁观者的,每个人都有一个属于自己的位置,每个人也都能找到一种属于自己的精彩。

      坦然,会让我们的生 rs gold 活美丽而快乐!
      朋友,就让我们的胸襟中盈盈感情坦然吧!

    ReplyDelete

Disqus for Youth Curry - Insight on Indian Youth