Consultants are often seen as the go-to professionals for complex projects and difficult tasks. But how many hours do consultants work? According to research by Consultancy, United Kingdom, consultants usually work 50 to 80 hours a week to meet the demands of their role. This is a significant amount of time, and it can take a toll on their health and well-being. Previous studies conducted with millennials consultants revealed a high degree of satisfaction with policies established to protect their work-life balance.
However, this doesn't mean that consultants are immune to the effects of long working hours. In fact, their health and intellectual abilities can continue to decline if they don't take steps to manage their workload. In intensive strategic consulting firms, the health and well-being of employees is usually monitored weekly, while this is less common in other consulting firms. Boutique firms tend to fare slightly better, with only 67% working beyond their contractual consulting hours.
The Human Resources department may try to reinforce and improve work-life balance, but managers can undermine it due to unrealistic expectations about workload and availability, as well as standardization practices that make consultants feel unable to back down. One of the possible explanations for this situation is the considerably higher (sometimes exponentially higher) daily rates charged by MBB compared to other consulting firms, which requires the project team to meet high standards in short terms on very complex issues. However, these policies are not necessarily effective in addressing the problem of excess consulting hours, which means that consultants continue to run the risk of burning out. As a result, consulting firms have started implementing measures that are more willing and able to accept compromises between work and personal life.
In consulting firms, these efforts often go further, since they recognize the high prevalence of working-life challenges in the sector. In addition, more and more consultants are supporting the incorporation of an extended period of unpaid leave or taking a sabbatical year, although often after several years of hard work or due to significant changes or challenges in consultants' private lives. From my point of view as an expert in the field, in the consulting field that means working from 9:00 to 20:00, on Fridays ending from 17:00 to 18:00, and feeling that every hour spent working is directly related to the impact of the project. It also helps to find the consultants on the projects that are the best fit, where their unique skills generate the best return on investment.
This results in lower professional effectiveness, greater voluntary employee turnover, and the cost of replacing staff (and potential customers) when a consultant leaves the company. As a result, most management consultants have to work between 50 and 80 hours a week to get their jobs done, which gives consulting a name because of its difficult work-life balance. For example, banking tends to be the most intense when it comes to working hours, while mining - where working hours are regulated for safety reasons - tends to be at the opposite extreme.