Is it worth it?
At the beginning of this Special Report we asked, is it worth it? Is the dominant ‘always-on’ culture in professional services worth the cost to both the firm and its people?
We would suggest the answer has to be ‘No’.
Despite all of the negative impacts on individuals and their firms, there is no empirical evidence that suggests any benefits of an ‘always-on’ culture.
Research regularly shows that working long hours, with little time off, under high levels of stress with a lack of sleep actually leads to more mistakes, inefficiency, lower productivity and lower quality of work.
This excellent article by Sarah Green Carmichael has a neat summary of the evidence to back this up and categorically states:
“The story of overwork is literally a story of diminishing returns: keep overworking, and you’ll progressively work more stupidly on tasks that are increasingly meaningless.”
There are options available to firms to mitigate the effects of the ‘always-on’ culture but, ultimately, to challenge the prevailing overwork culture will require Partners and Directors to change the way they behave, set the example and mandate the desired behaviours and new ways of working.
We are well aware that this may be difficult but we challenge leaders of firms to accept that being ‘always-on’ really isn’t worth it and to change their behaviours accordingly.
We believe that professional services firms who are able to adapt their culture will find that they have a more engaged, committed, productive and satisfied workforce. They will have more freedom to undertake crucial professional development and business development. They will have the pick of top talent in the industry and critically, rather than disappointing clients, they will produce better work of greater value.
Recommended Further Reading: Reverence or Regicide? Why ‘Client First’ should not mean ‘Client is King’ in professional services
Special Report: Is it worth it? Examining the ‘always-on’ culture in professional services: