Last summer, Goldman Sachs made headlines when the investment banking firm announced it would no longer allow its interns to pull all-nighters during the week, dictating that they must be out of the office from midnight to 7 a.m. It also recommended its junior employees take at least four weekend days off a month. Certainly the countless young people vying for entrance into the firm understand that working insane hours is part of the Wall Street gig. But still, a 17-hour workday?
It can be much the same in Silicon Valley.
"If you are working for tech companies, the expectation is you are going to work really hard," Megan Slabinski, district president of IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology, told Computerworld. "This is bleeding-edge technology, and the tradeoff is there's less work-life balance. The people who thrive in this industry thrive on being on the bleeding edge. If you can't take it, you go into another industry."
Located in San Mateo, California, sales and marketing analytics company Full Circle Insights operates within this aggressive culture. Yet its CEO, Bonnie Crater, has taken an entirely different tack when it comes to her employees: She requires each and every member of her 30-plus work force to have a hobby and spend time enjoying it. Here's why:
1. An 80-hour workweek doesn't equate with more or better output.
The ethos stems from Crater's personal experience working too hard and watching her productivity plummet. She believes in balance so much, in fact, that it's one of the company's five-pronged set of values, and anyone interviewing for a position must fend an inquiry about his or her hobbies. And at least one of them must be what Crater calls "consuming."
"We want people to work really hard, but when they're not working, we want them to really not work," she says.
2. It helps Millennials stick around.
It's a concept that resonates especially with the younger people working for the company.
"A lot of our employees are Millennials, and the whole concept of balance is actually quite popular with them," she says. "They want to do well at their work, but they also want to do things outside of their work. And so the value of balance is very attractive."
3. Work-life balance and high growth aren't mutually exclusive.
The focus on work-life balance appears to be working for Crater's company. Full Circle Insights recently closed a $4.7 million series B round of funding, bringing its total raised to $8.5 million. Also, last year the company tripled in size and expects to double in 2016.
"It's hard for the business to meet its goals if people are not putting the full time in," she says. "But we're different than a lot of other Silicon Valley companies, where working really, really long hours is considered essential, if not glamorous."