Monday, January 07, 2008

Working in Your Sleep

When companies can’t find enough accountants, those already on the payroll have to pick up the slack and that can lead to some very lengthy hours.

Almost every accounting candidate coming to see Kent Burns, an account executive with MRINetwork (MRI), Indianapolis, is asking about work-life balance. “They’re asking, 'How many hours are they really working people over there?'” he reports adding that candidates in their 20s and 30s are more sensitive to that than candidates in their 40s.

That anecdote is backed up by an MRI survey of 500 people that found people working in the evening, on weekends and during their commute – leading me to wonder if really great multi-taskers will now be able to shave their faces, read a report and drive themselves to work at the same time.

The poll revealed 65 percent of the participants frequently work after hours, 19 percent sometimes do, 9 percent occasionally stay late and 5 percent never do.

A whopping 70 percent said their company doesn’t do a good job of allowing them to balance their work life with their personal life.

So how does that play out in the real world? And what does Burns tell people who worry their next job will require even more hours than the one they’re leaving because it required too many hours?

In some cases he says: “This is an industry leading company, and they didn’t get this way by sending everyone home at 5 p.m. Do you want to work at that level, learn a lot, advance and make a lot of money?”

In other cases, he can honestly say a company is sensitive to work/life issues and you can expect to work 40 to 50 hours a week.

In the big scheme of things, it could be worse. We haven’t heard of any accounting firms asking employees to work in their sleep -- something the 2nd Annual Staples National Small-Business Survey says small-business owners are doing.

“More small-business owners and managers are working harder than ever to make their business dream come true…even while they sleep,” proclaims a press release sent out by the company over Business Wire last week.

Half of small-business professionals surveyed said they dream about work and nearly 70 percent of those dreamers wake up and put their work dream ideas into action. Sounds good to me. I think I’ll go sew some pockets in my pajamas to hold all the money I’m going to be making while I’m sleeping.

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