Friday, December 23, 2005


Este artículo lo traigo a propósito de un amigo Abogado Marcelo Montero I , que tiene especiales opiniones al respecto . Lo voy a invitar a opinar sobre este especial tema, porque el conoce la realidad Chilena y la de los Estados Unidos muy bien. Esperamos que sus compromisos académicos y profesionales se lo permita, pero aprovecharemos el verano para preocuparnos de ver la realidad Chilena en particular James Waldroop, who codeveloped CareerLeader, the interactive career-assessment program used by more than 240 MBA programs and corporations, says work-hours inflation is growing, not just in the United States but globally. Last summer, he says, the newspapers in Madrid were ablaze with reports of the demise of the siesta, as Spanish workers scrambled to keep up with their E.U. counterparts. In Germany, workers at Siemens grudgingly agreed to an extension of their workweek to 40 hours. The French government is contemplating lengthening the 35-hour workweek established in 1998. In Japan, there were 160 official cases of "karoshi," or "death from overwork," in fiscal 2002, and another 43 people committed suicide because of overwork. Extreme jobs are a problem when they're staffed by workers who aren't necessarily stoked by the spine-tingling thrill of a shift in interest rates, or jazzed by the chance to restructure a call center in Omaha. In the United States, both consulting firms and investment banks lose a significant number of their young associates -- particularly women -- to the unrelenting toil of the job. The career Web site Vault.com says that 55% of consultants and 30% of investment bankers quit after five years. "The sheer demands of the job burn people out," Bishop says. "Or they leave when there's been a shock to the system -- a new baby comes along, or they want to devote time to a relationship." While there are still reports that long hours are part of a hazing ritual (one young analyst at Merrill Lynch recalls a supervisor saying, "When we ask you to work on Christmas Day, it's not that we're being mean. It's just building character"), most firms deny an attempt to wash out the less committed. "Sure, there's a natural selection process," says Melanie Karbe, a partner at the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton in San Francisco. "But I don't think it's a Darwinistic approach to see who survives. People will understand whether they really enjoy this and want to do this. We do not say, 'Let's be as brutal as we can, especially at the associate level.' " Still, some experts think business-service firms in particular are caught in a predicament of their own creation. "When you're charging huge amounts of money, companies want you to dance to their tune, not yours," says Waldroop, whose own firm, Peregrine Partners, works with Fortune 50 corporations. "Frankly, consulting firms and I-banks have built up these expectations. In the 1950s, they didn't operate like this." Stewart Friedman, who runs the Work/ Life Integration Project at the Wharton School, says he's seeing more students and workers who are looking for career tracks that don't require such sacrifices. "The problem is that there are certain unquestioned assumptions about what's required to be successful," he says. "And for every one of those people telling you 'I gotta do the 24-7-365-BlackBerry-travel-around-the-world deal,' I'm willing to bet a lot of money I could help them figure out ways of creating boundaries that could reduce some of that demand." But even Friedman concedes that among the folks who live to work -- the ones he calls "happy workaholics" -- such strategies are irrelevant. And don't try telling them that long hours and high stress will ultimately make them sick. "There are studies that look at the impact of weekly work hours on health, and two that link it to heart disease," says Paul Spector, professor of industrial and organizational psychology at the University of South Florida. "But here's the kicker: In order to pay the price, it has to be a job where you're forced to work hours that you don't want to." In other words, if you like what you're doing, there's no physical risk. "The data suggest that people who are doing it because they want to are perfectly fine," says Spector. David Clark, 35, has one of those glamour jobs that make people say, "Where do I sign up?" As VP of global marketing partnerships for MTV, he travels constantly, following the music scene around the planet. In late January in his Times Square office, he was frenetically working to turn the MTV Asia Awards in Bangkok into a tsunami relief event and mapping the launch of the network's 100th channel, in Africa, in the spring. Clark knows he's lucky. He also knows how easily his job can suck the hours out of his week, a realization that's become more acute since the birth of his baby, Nicholas, 18 months ago. "Since our son's been born, it's become more difficult," he says. "I'm still figuring it out." Because Clark is "the global guy" at MTV, there are few hours in his day when some part of the world is not clamoring for attention. He wakes up at 6:30 a.m. to the alarm on his BlackBerry and spends half an hour answering the 30 to 40 messages that have piled up, before he even gets out of bed. His little son can already mimic Daddy's BlackBerry thumb dance. After a few calls to clients in far-flung time zones, he heads to the office where the barrage doesn't die down until late afternoon, when there's a brief pause as Asia goes to bed and Europe goes home to dinner. Still, by 4 p.m. one day, he had 578 unread messages clogging his inbox, and Latin America was desperately trying to get his attention by phone. In the evenings, he says, he tries to get home for an hour with his son, and then it's back on the phone and email until he collapses into bed at midnight. That's when he's not in Singapore or Rio. Curiously, instead of reducing the need for travel, all this connectivity has actually increased it, he says: "My theory is that there comes a time in any project where you just need to be face-to-face." Clark logs about 200,000 miles a year. But while he loves the travel and the challenge of doing global deals, he worries about the effect it will have on his nonwork life. "Some of the older managers have warned me that if you're not careful, these all-consuming jobs can ruin your family," he says. Still, "there are plenty of people who would love to have this job. They're knocking on the door all the time. So that's motivating." At least Clark has a family. Until recently, John Bishop -- tall, smart, good-looking, and making an enviable salary -- had trouble finding time for even a date. "I had a huge network of friends at Wharton. That's shrunk," he says, ruefully. "My friends say I'm much more difficult to reach now. I pull out of things at the last minute; I've canceled vacations, family time, dates. When you're single and trying to start a relationship, nobody understands that." Bishop tries to lay the groundwork upfront, warning women that his job is unpredictable and unlikely to get better. "Somebody with a 9-to-5 job and a needy personality would never work for me," he says. Fortunately, he has recently reconnected with a former girlfriend who's now a medical resident in Boston with equally ridiculous hours. But it's the next step -- having a family -- that seems to be the point at which extreme jobs often become unsustainable. "I don't have any concept of how I could do this if I were a parent," says Avery Baker, the Hilfiger exec. "That's why it's enjoyable for us to have such an extreme life now, because we both know it won't always be this way." Even workers who think they can handle the demands often find the trade-offs not worth the price. After trying to handle her job at consulting firm DiamondCluster International for two years following the birth of her son, Andrea Kampine, 35, recently left for a company that required less travel. "In the end, I decided I needed to see my family every day," she says. "Life doesn't get easier the more senior you get in consulting. I looked out on the horizon and didn't see a point where constant travel would be okay for me." Some organizations are taking steps to keep workers like Kampine. Karbe says Booz Allen has put a lot of effort into retention and making jobs less onerous. "The industry has begun to evolve," she says. "There's a recognition that you're not necessarily just losing the underperformers; you're losing your good people." Now, she says, managers are evaluated based partially on their ability to create work-life balance on their teams. "You cannot burn teams," Karbe says. "We do not tolerate it. That didn't exist 10 years ago." The Human Capital Institute's Schweyer thinks more companies will have to find a way to reconcile draconian work demands with real-life needs. "The unsustainability is what companies have to prepare for," he says. "They've been able to put it off because the economy and the labor market have been weak for the past five years. But what happens if we get back to the point like in the late '90s, when the job seeker was in control? There will be a retention crisis." But Bishop, who recruits for Citigroup at Wharton, isn't convinced. "Even if people leave, there's so much demand for people wanting to get into the system, it doesn't really matter. They can always find more." And Tse says the question is beside the point. Periodically, she says, she toys with the idea of giving it all up to study music at a conservatory in Florence. But she can't quite bring herself to step away. "If you're doing something you love, and you're great at it, life can't be better." Linda Tischler is a Fast Company senior writer. Ver más en Consultajuridica.blogspot.com Saludos Rodrigo González fernández