80-hour weeks are all too normal in the world of management consultancy, and with it comes employee burnout – with prized staff often deciding to jump ship. How can it be tackled without compromising client service and productivity?
BCG is one of the world’s leading management consultancies, with 12,000 employees and $5.6bn worldwide revenues. Back in 2005, BCG gave Harvard Business School professor Leslie Perlow the opportunity to study burnout and stress amongst their staff, and recommend ways to tackle it.
She found that the key issue was unpredictability. Most consultants were unable to forecast when their work would spill over into evenings and weekends, so found it hard to plan their time out.
Leslie partnered with BCG partner Debbie Lovich on designing, piloting and then rolling out a programme that became known as PTO – Predictability, Teaming and Open Communications. Here’s a film of Leslie talking about PTO at TED.
With PTO, consulting teams openly communicate their individual scheduling expectations prior to the project’s onset, as well as check in with each other regularly. It’s not about reducing hours worked per se – it’s more about collaborating openly to ensure that each team member is able to achieve a more sustainable work-life balance.
The benefits go beyond a reduction in burnout, according to BCG. Staff ‘report exceptional improvements in both personal satisfaction and project performance after adopting PTO, including an average 35% increase in teamwork and collaboration, a 35% increase in value delivered to clients, and a 100% increase in team effectiveness.’ BCG ranks #3 in Fortune 100 Best Places to Work 2017.
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