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City executives head for burnout

An increasing number of cash-rich, time-poor executives are facing up to the depressing reality that their work is fast becoming their life, reports Naomi Canton.

business Updated: Aug 05, 2007 02:50 IST
Naomi Canton Naomi Canton

The downside to globalisation is taking its toll on Mumbaikars, who say their personal lives are falling apart as they struggle to meet the demands of the workplace.

An increasing number of cash-rich, time-poor executives are facing up to the depressing reality that their work is fast becoming their life.

Many are so exhausted, they have no time for hobbies, family or a personal life and stress-related illnesses are beginning to emerge as the city’s new hidden epidemic.

An HT-C fore survey of corporate executives and professionals in Mumbai earning more than Rs 15,000 found that many of them are so overworked they are heading for burnout.

Nearly three quarters, or 72 per cent, of the 307 executives interviewed, said they felt stressed by their work, while a surprising 21 per cent admitted they had even seen a doctor because of it.

A staggering 61 per cent said they could imagine themselves having burnout in the next five years. More than three quarters, or 76 per cent, said they did not have a good work-life balance. More than half (55 per cent) admitted their work was having a negative effect on their family and personal life.

One of the reasons for the stress was the long hours at work. While 51 per cent put in 50 to 70 hours per week, 15 per cent slogged for over 70 hours.

This is far more than Europe. In the UK, workers work an average of 39.6 hours per week, while in Norway employees put in a mere 34.9 hours per week, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Japan, famed for its culture of long work hours, where there is even a word karoshi that means death from overwork, workers put in an average of 42 hours per week. In Pakistan, the law states workers should not put in more than 48 hours, but according to the ILO, 44 per cent of workers there put in excess of that.

Ironically, despite a raised standard of living, most Mumbaikars (65 per cent) thought their work-life balance was worse now than it was 10 years ago. And a surprising number (64 per cent) said they were prepared to give up fat paychecks for a less demanding job. The question is, will this ‘all work and no play’ culture lead to an influx in stress and life management professionals from the West?