Management consultants often have to manage fluctuating workloads, depending on the number of projects they are working on. Projects can range from a few weeks to several years, and it is possible to plan ahead for the busiest weeks, allowing for some control over the balance between work and life. Although it may not be possible to achieve a daily or weekly work-life balance in the consulting environment due to deadlines, striving for a broader balance can be beneficial. People who gain experience in an industry, get an MBA, and then are recruited to a consulting firm usually have a more balanced lifestyle than those in banking.
This leads to higher professional effectiveness, lower voluntary employee turnover, and reduced costs of replacing staff and potential customers when a consultant leaves the company. It is also possible for consultants to stay with their firm for many years and progress up the ladder. Given the complex matrix of factors that contribute to work-life conflicts in consulting firms, it seems that employees will continue to circumvent work-life balance in all but the most demanding companies. The impact of long consulting hours on employees' physical and mental health is detrimental to both individuals and companies.
At its core, a consultant is an expert in something who helps other people or organizations. In the 'big four' companies - Deloitte, Ernst and Young, KPMG and PwC - 88% of people work overtime, with an average of 10.3 hours. When I joined as an associate consultant - the initial level of my company - I wanted to reach the consultant level. Consulting firms often go further than other organizations in terms of work-life balance interventions due to the high prevalence of such challenges in the sector. According to a study published in the Journal of Human Resource Management, these interventions are more common in high-intensity strategy consulting firms. In consulting firms, multiple organizational backgrounds predispose staff to working longer hours, increasing conflicts between work and personal life, and increasing the risk of burnout.
This is especially true for longer projects which are common for strategy consultants and create particularly intense work periods. To improve the quality of time spent at home, some consultants receive domestic help with cleaning and laundry which can make it easier to work longer hours. The key to achieving a good work-life balance as a consultant is understanding your own needs and limitations. It is important to set boundaries between your professional and personal life so that you can make time for yourself and your family. It is also important to take regular breaks throughout the day so that you can recharge your batteries and stay focused on your tasks.
Additionally, it is important to communicate with your team about your workload so that you can manage expectations and ensure that you are not taking on too much. Overall, consultants have the potential to achieve a good work-life balance if they are willing to put in the effort. By understanding their own needs and limitations, setting boundaries between their professional and personal life, taking regular breaks throughout the day, and communicating with their team about their workloads, consultants can ensure that they are able to maintain a healthy balance between their work and personal lives.