Are You a High Tech Workaholic? New Accenture Research Says...

By Tony Rizzo March 01, 2013

That yes, you likely are.

Just last week Yahoo's CEO Marissa Meyer was in the news for two reasons. First she decided that no Yahoo (that is, no Yahoo employee, but they're called Yahoos internally) would be able to work remotely any longer. And second it became public that she had a nursery built next to her office for her own kid to romp around in. Now that is a fine piece of luxury to help make one's workaholic nature a bit more palatable. I once worked for a company that made providing a day care for all employees a priority, but a custom nursery takes the cake for certain.

In any case, Meyer is a self-professed workaholic, but it turns out that most of us in the tech and electronics industries are also likely workaholic to some degree, more so than our colleagues in other industries. Go figure - we thought we were unusual!

New 2013 global research just released from Accenture - titled “Defining Success” - and based on an extensive global survey, has uncovered that at least 66 percent of both female and male professionals around the world say they can “have it all.” It's an interesting way to actually frame the difference being a workaholic and striking a successful work-life balance.

But it’s a lot more interesting that - having both a successful career and a "full life outside work" is what is actually important to respondents - it is so important in fact that the Accenture research finds that respondents most often look to choose a job based on its potential impact on work-life balance. Further, more than half of respondents - 52 percent - say they have turned down a job due to concerns about its impact on work-life balance.

In fact, work-life balance tops respondents’ definitions of career success. The major breakdown is as follows:

  • 56 percent cite work-life balance as the most means to defining success.
  • 46 percent cite money as the standard.
  • 42 percent cite recognition.
  • 42 percent cite autonomy as the key measure.

That said, 70 percent of both women and men believe they can have a successful career as well as a full life outside work but a large percentage - 50 percent - also claim that they cannot “have it all at the same time.” 

Accenture's Research Methodology - Comprehensive in Nature

In November 2012 Accenture conducted an online survey across 4,100 business executives from medium to large organizations. The survey's reach was global in nature, spanning 33 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States.

No less than 100 respondents needed to be included from each country. There was one exception to this - the combined region of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland provided a total combined panel of respondents that totaled 200.

Respondents were split evenly by gender and were balanced by age and level in their organizations. The margin of error for the total sample is approximately +/- 2 percent.

The Nature of Defining Success

Adrian Lajtha, Accenture’s chief leadership officer notes that, “Over the course of their careers, professionals will continue to define and re-define what success looks like. For many, career goals and personal priorities will take precedence at different times. As today’s professionals strive to find the right balance, leading companies must find innovative ways to help them develop, grow and thrive.”

That is a very interesting point to make - work-life balance is something that both individuals and employers must work together to achieve. Work-life balance is critical for businesses to get right in order to ensure that their workforces - from the most senior of management to the least senior of employees across every type of job within a company - always deliver a competitive advantage.

The research further finds - or perhaps "confirms what we already know" is more accurate - that technology plays a very real role in achieving work-life balance. Respondents did express mixed feelings about that technology impact on their personal lives:

  • 78 percent agree technology enables them to be more flexible with their schedules.
  • 80 percent report that having flexibility in their work schedule is extremely or very important to work-life balance.
  • However - and this is important - 70 percent say technology brings work into their personal lives. 

It is a message for employers to clearly understand. Nellie Borrero, managing director for global inclusion & diversity at Accenture says, “The fact that work-life balance continues to be critically important to employees holds tremendous significance for employers. Companies that can help their employees navigate both their professional and personal lives are likely to see strong employee engagement and enjoy an advantage as they recruit and retain high performers.”

If you Happen to be in High Tech…

A subcategory of the Accenture survey that included 243 electronics and high-tech executives presents some very interesting additional findings:

  • 41 percent of electronics and high-tech executives consider themselves to be workaholics.
  • 80 percent work at least occasionally on weekends.
  • 30 percent claim that the one largest source of stress is in their jobs is workload/volume. 16 percent noted deadlines as inducing the most stress. And since this segment of the population tended to be "executives" it is perhaps not surprising that 16 percent actually claim office politics to cause the greatest level of stress - no doubt this is company dependent.
  • 40 percent agree that technology hinders their work/life balance because they are always accessible.
  • More than 35 percent agree technology is in fact a burden on their free time. There is a flip side here - 87 percent admit that technology enables them to work smarter and get more done in less time, and 84 percent agree that technology enables them to be more flexible with their schedules.

There is a lot more detail on more general issues among tech execs, but we'll stop here.

Turning back to the larger survey population the Accenture research also notes a large range of related work-related topics that help define success in the workplace.

53 percent of women and 50 percent of men say they are satisfied with their jobs and not looking for new opportunities. Accenture notes an interesting shift here in that compared to similar research conducted for Accenture's 2012 report only 43 percent of women and 41 percent of men expressed satisfaction with their jobs.

All told, 40 percent of the entire survey population consider themselves workaholics. 75 percent of respondents report they work frequently or occasionally during paid time off:

  • 71 percent check e-mail.
  • 44 percent catch up on work.
  • 35 percent work because they are able to do so with no distractions.
  • 30 percent participate in conference calls.

As is the case for the tech industry subset, the report provides many more insights than we can cover here. The full Defining Success report is available online and also provides info graphics and analysis of regional trends.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

TechZone360 Senior Editor

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