our highly-paid, overworked junior staff keep leaving just as we get them fully trained

A reader writes:

I work in an industry that is well known for long, hard hours, especially at junior levels. It’s one that has been all over the newspaper the past couple years for difficulty retaining junior professional staff and attempts to roll out more work-life balance. That said, it’s also (a) very well paid at the junior level, think 23 years old and making $275k-$200k; and (b) very competitive.

We’ve been having issues with junior staff, who each went through a rigorous interview process where the lifestyle was made clear to them (100-hour weeks, in the office every weekend, two year program), quitting after 6-9 months. That is typically just when they are getting useful in what is effectively an apprenticeship program. Some are leaving us for competitors with bigger brand names, but others are making the jump into corporate jobs, usually in finance with mid-stage start-ups. We have raised pay twice in the past six months and have been in the press for a fair bit of success lately. But we can’t do our jobs effectively without junior resources. It’s a huge amount of work to get a 23-year-old working at a professional level, and because it’s client service if they aren’t available evenings / weekends then I have to be (high level manager bringing in significant business). That’s equated to me working each of the past six weekends to try and get junior staff more time off than I ever got when I was coming up, only to have the fourth team member this year quit.

So, obviously we can’t *force* anyone to keep working, but what else can we be doing to keep people for the full two-year program? We already defer most of the comp to year-end, with some smallish amount withheld for 12-24 months. I’m thinking of something along the lines of a contract that would acknowledge that the training provided has value that must be repaid if the person doesn’t stay for 24 months. Or making the majority of the salary and bonus contingent on staying for the full 24 months (i.e., you make $10k per month before bonus, but if you leave before 24 months you must repay $6k per month). I’m sympathetic to the pleas that this job is life-consuming, but it’s ALWAYS been that way and nobody pretends otherwise during the interview process. And, again, I’m doing similar hours in my mid-40s, with a family. This isn’t a hazing process, it’s just what the job is like. Ideally it gets better, although with the junior team working less than I did it seems like that might not be the case any more.

It sounds like labor conditions have changed and your company will need to adapt.

For whatever reason, what you offered in the past was attractive enough to keep people there for the whole two years, but now it’s not. (I suspect the reasons are a combination of our current job-seeker’s market and a broader shift in what workers consider acceptable to put up with, particularly among younger workers. Both of those and especially the latter are good for society, although they’re causing pain for your company.) You’re getting people signing up thinking they can do the hours, but then realizing that 100-hour weeks are soul-crushing and seeing opportunities out there that they like better.

To keep them, you need to be able to compete with the other options they have. That doesn’t just mean money; it means lifestyle too.

You’re looking at ways to penalize them for leaving … but having exhausted, overworked people who are there only because you will bill them if they leave is a recipe for demoralized and resentful staff.

What if you hired more junior staff, had them work fewer hours each, and lowered the pay accordingly? Everyone might be happier with that in the long run. It’s more people to supervise, and that’s more work … but it’s not more work than training people who then leave just as they’re becoming useful. It would also give you a far healthier workplace and would give you access to a pool of candidates who you miss out on entirely right now because they won’t consider working those hours.

Don’t get too attached to “it’s always been this way.” It’s not serving you anymore. And lots of things were always a certain way until someone looked at them and said, “We can do this better.”

{ 1,922 comments… read them below }

    1. Web of Pies*

      Indeed, halfway through reading LW’s question I thought, “just hire more people, this seems very simple?” Every work culture is changeable if the will is there.

      1. green beans*

        my thoughts exactly. Hire twice as many people, pay them half as much (if that’s still a competitive salary) and then STAGGER their working times so evenings and weekends are covered within a 40 hr (or at MOST 50 hr) workweek.

        1. Mangofan*

          This is almost certainly investment banking, and it’s not as simple as just cranking out widgets at an assembly line or a customer service job, where somebody else can just step in and resume what you were doing when you leave off. For a somewhat imperfect analogy think about whether you could write a long-form essay twice as fast with twice the number of people. That said, I imagine there is room to hire more people at fewer hours, but it’s not quite as straightforward as commenters here seem to be thinking.

          1. Louise Miller*

            Agree – I am in a similar (though less intense) profession and it unfortunately is a major cultural shift that this particular mid 40s manager does not have the authority to effect change on. It’s crushing to be the one who has to carry the load when you know the structure around you won’t change or move forward. Sucky position to be in.

            1. Observer*

              this particular mid 40s manager does not have the authority to effect change on

              Hard to tell. But if he can’t change the structure, the least he can do is to not try to force the people who he hires to commit suicide or penalize the ones who refuse to do so.

              I’m serious. What they are describing IS life destroying.

              1. Rose*

                And they’re adults who can leave if their lives are being destroyed. No one is forcing anyone to commit suicide – that’s a huge accusation and deeply misplaced.

                1. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

                  Precisely. At the risk of stepping on an anthill: the people who are making these kinds of comments do not have the stamina, drive, or qualifications to cut it in investment banking. Most — not all, but most — are admins making $50K/year. Love it or hate it, investment banking is not the kind of industry for which you go to Ask a Manager for advice.

                2. Fran Fine*

                  Most — not all, but most — are admins making $50K/year.

                  This is far from the truth. AAM has a yearly, anonymous salary guide that readers can fill out to help others job searching determine what salary to ask for – many people who post here are doing quite well for themselves. Most are making over $50k a year, and most are not admins, lol.

                3. esra*

                  At the risk of stepping on an anthill: the people who are making these kinds of comments do not have the stamina, drive, or qualifications to cut it in investment banking.

                  There’s so much to unpack here. Like. It’s not really all that great, or worthy of praise, to work 100/hrs a week. There have been multiple studies on the negative impact on working in investment banking on physical and mental health.

                4. Zillah*

                  At the risk of stepping on an anthill: the people who are making these kinds of comments do not have the stamina, drive, or qualifications to cut it in investment banking. Most — not all, but most — are admins making $50K/year.

                  This is such a weird thing to say on so many levels.

                5. chewingle*

                  Which is exactly what they’ve done. Hence the OP’s dilemma. All we’ve done here is circle back to, “I can’t keep staff, now what?”

            2. Kal*

              If OP truly can’t affect any change and things stay at the status quo while young workers are going for other opportunities because the outside culture has change, then it sounds like the only options for OP and people in OP’s place are to accept the workload as it is, or to also look outside for other opportunities. Maybe the increasing attrition at higher levels as the workload falls upwards will finally lead to the necessary changes to happen.

              I know it’s not fun when you thought you had a locked-in career path where you pay your dues when you’re young and then you get to have it much easier later, and then have that system fall apart. It can be really easy to be frustrated or mad at people who won’t go through what you went through to get where you are. But a system that requires people to devote their health and sanity to work by working 100hr/week for two years at the very beginning of their career was always bad, and people refusing to participate is a good thing. Its important for everyone to direct their ire at the people above who do have always had the power to change things, not at the young people who refuse to the harmful thing.

              1. The OTHER other*

                Yes, the LW seems to accept “this is what this job/industry is, it’s always been this way” yet seems very unhappy that THEY are now having to work the same hours as the entry level people.

                If the interns are able to find other jobs they like better, maybe the LW can also?

                I’m also wondering why, if these interns are “only really becoming useful” after a year or 18 months, why they are requiring so many work hours, and paying them so much. If they are useless for 18 months, why require 100+ hours of “useless” work from them?

                LW’s ideas about backloading pay to induce people to stay are terrible and will destroy morale. The instant people get those delayed paychecks they are going to disappear, so it’s not as though it’s going to squeeze much more blood from these stones.

                1. Olivia*

                  Interesting question! Is it really that they’re training them for that many hours? Are they literally doing admin work/making photocopies for 100-hour weeks for many months? If so, why are they so well-paid? I admittedly do not know this industry, but I’m very confused by this system.

                2. LurkerVA*

                  Hearing an employer refer to me as “useful” would be demoralizing by itself. I am a human being, not a tool that’s a means to an end. Sounds like this industry needs a major shift.

            3. KHB*

              If the manager has the authority to change the compensation structure as drastically as he’s suggesting (i.e., requiring people to repay 60% of their salary if they don’t stick it out for two years), he probably has the authority to effect other changes too.

          2. Nayo*

            “This is almost certainly investment banking, and it’s not as simple as just cranking out widgets at an assembly line or a customer service job, where somebody else can just step in and resume what you were doing when you leave off.”

            Assuming it is investment banking, at some point it won’t matter if it can be done like that or not, because either OP’s company or the industry as a whole will hit the point of “adapt or die” due to more and more people being unwilling to tolerate the awful work/life balance. They’ll need to figure it out or fold, so they might as well get started now. (Not arguing with you btw—your comment was informative and I wanted to add my thoughts! I know nothing about investment banking.)

            1. mark132*

              Exactly eventually reality intervenes, and at 100hr weeks, a lot of churn is inevitable even in bad economic times.

              1. Betteauroan*

                100 hour work weeks is unsustainable even for the most driven workaholic. I can’t imagine working that many hours for 2 years straight. That is mentally and physically unhealthy. I don’t care how much I was offered. My quality of life, my relationships, and my health are more important than money.

                1. Nervous Rex*

                  My father is a workaholic, to the point that I was around 7 years old before I realized that he lived in the same house as the rest of us. Even he did not work regular 100-hour weeks.

                  Now, in a world where our awareness of our own mortality and that of our loved ones has been newly refreshed, it just seems unlikely that many young people are going to want to trade their precious years this way.

                2. MBK*

                  There’s been this notion I’ve seen in the past 25-30 years of “all work all the time for 10 years; retire with mega millions at 33.” I’ve even heard of a few people managing to do it. But it sounds absolutely miserable to me – lose all your friends and relationships because you never have time for them, and then you have two possibilities: either flame out and have nothing, or achieve your goal and try to start rebuilding those relationships (or new ones) in an atmosphere where most of the people who can stand to be around you are just there for the money.

                3. Daisy*

                  There was a study showing that the more hours Americans claim to work over 50 a week, the less likely they are to be accurate – whether mistaken, lying to sound good, or just pulling a big-sounding number out of the air. I’m pretty sceptical that even in investment banking they are really working 14 hours a day every single day of the year, including every Saturday and Sunday (which is what you would need for a 100 hour week).

                4. AnonoDoc*

                  I trained in the dark ages before “duty hour limits” restricted interns and residents to no more than 80 hour work weeks. 3 years of 100+ hour weeks had permanent effects on my health. And at about 40 hours into a shift even perfectly healthy humans start to hallucinate. There is nothing healthy about it, AND there is a rapid decrease in productivity as number of hours worked per person increases.

                5. Greg*

                  Also, 100 hours a week for that salary in an interview process? Of course a 23 year old who doesn’t have any other frame of reference is going to say, “No problem, sounds manageable!”

                  Until they then have to do it. While watching their friends enjoying their first few years out of school.

                6. MissBaudelaire*

                  This is it.

                  Doesn’t matter how much money is sitting in my bank account if I’m a withered, shell of a person. Everyone chooses their priorities, and it sounds like a lot more people are realizing that they value their quality of life and health over the cash. And that is not a bad thing!

                  I know it sucks for LW, as now it sounds like they’re the ones stuck doing all those hours–but it sounds like instead of punishing the people who decide that really isn’t for them, they should be working on changing the system. The way they put it, those punishments are the equivalent of “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

                7. AnonInCanada*

                  100 hour work weeks is unsustainable even for the most driven workaholic

                  I know that feeling! I remember putting in those kind of hours in a previous job. Having no life outside of work was not pleasurable to say the least, and what few days you got off in a month you spent taking care of household chores. Literally doing nothing but work and sleep with chores on the few days off is not the way anyone should have to live. Take it from someone who’s been there, done that and bought the T-shirt.

                  The Japanese have a word for that: 過労死, Karōshi. Small wonder why OP’s junior staff are leaving. They don’t want to die from overwork!

                8. Olita*

                  It’s really difficult for people — never mind someone coming right out of college — to grasp what a 100-hr work week feels like, so it seems like an easy tradeoff in the abstract to do that amount of work for a hefty salary. The turnover is not surprising, and like others have said, I do wonder what would happen if the industry hired more people and paid less.

                9. Mahkara*

                  Eh, I knew one guy (in investment banking, of course…) who seemed to love it. He’d get into work at 9 am. Work until midnight. Go out and party until 3. Crash.

                  He took a “break” on Sundays for about 3 hours to golf with work buddies. Then he’d go back to work.

                  It was crazy. He was crazy. But he did somehow do it.

                  (He was also in his 20s. I suspect he eventually slowed his roll. But for at least a few years, he seemed to *love* his insane schedule. It was odd watching all the other investment bankers burn out while he *thrived*.)

            2. Liz*

              BigLaw has a similar setup (maybe not 100 hours a week, but 60-70+ is pretty much expected across the board). Not surprisingly, after decades of having their pick of up-and-coming legal talent, post-COVID they’re being pressured to accommodate new attorneys who want to work remotely, job-share, etc.

              Plenty of great attorneys would rather make $80K at a 40 hour a week job than $200K at an 80-hour a week job. At some point, the advantage of higher pay is no longer linear.

              My spouse, not a lawyer, took a pretty significant “pay cut” to go from a 70-hour-a-week job to a 40-hour-a-week job earlier this year. I put pay cut in quotes because even though he makes less now, he is making more for each hour he works. Life is too short to spend it all at work.

              1. CrewellaCoupDeVille*

                It’s because we’ve all figured out that no amount of money can compensate for not having a good life outside of work – whatever that means to people. The secret is out and now we can’t un-ring that bell. It may be another generation or two before anyone’s willing to sacrifice two years of their life to corporate aims in exchange for a paycheck, or it may be never (my bet is on “never”).

                Our current capitalist employment system was based on a lot of ideas that have been proven to be fallacies, like “you can start at the bottom and work your way up and be rich!” and “short-term sacrifice for long-term gain!” Now that we’ve realized that those people who “started at the bottom” were actually hugely privileged to begin with and had a lot of incredible help on their side from many sources, and also that the “short-term sacrifices” mean we’re going to miss critical life events and time with our loved ones. People are seeing those fairy tales for what they are – no different than the stories about a beautiful princess being rescued from a castle by a handsome prince, or someone killing a dragon and taking its treasure. People have seen what a ruthless, mostly-unregulated capitalist system has to offer. It does not reward hard work. It does not reward sacrifice. It rewards privilege, connections, pedigree and whatever other advantages you were born with. So. Why opt into that? Why sacrifice what we know makes us happy to become cogs in someone else’s machine? This is the core behind r/antiwork and the reason why we can’t get people to go back to crappy service jobs: people have realized, finally, it’s just not worth it.

                The answer nailed it: companies can accept that things have completely changed, and completely change their structures and expectations to try to survive, or they can go extinct. Like a dinosaur. Choice is theirs.

                1. Olivia*

                  Yes! It used to be that certain jobs gave you security and loyalty for your time. Things are very different now. If our employers don’t owe us anything, we certainly don’t owe them 100 hours a week.

          3. green beans*

            I’m actually a writer and I could actually write an essay faster if I could outsource a lot of the work – ie, I can spend 40 hours on a long form essay, or I can ask someone to do 20 hours of research for me and spend 20 hours working on it (honestly, maybe less, depending on if they were better at researching than I was.) I could also spend less time with a good editor and a fact-checker.

            I think “more people, less hours” would likely involve a lot of lateral thinking because it’s a systemic change – maybe fewer projects per person, or more people per project, or longer “shifts” where you’re on and then more time off, rather than the traditional 8 hr days (ie, I work 3-4 days on, a half-day transitioning the project, and then get 4 days off.) But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It just needs some creative problem-solving.

            1. Whimsical Gadfly*

              The possibility of good support staff (which requires that they feel like they are getting a reasonable chunk of the pie too if you want them to be good) leading to teams could help.

              The answer might not be direct replacement–having them do research or writing–but obstacle management/making things go smoothly.

            2. Edwina*

              Yes, I’m a writer too and I thought the same thing. You actually see it in TV writers’ rooms–when you have a page one rewrite and it has to be done by the end of the day so the cast can start working on it the following morning, having six or eight writers is what makes it possible. People pitch in and work on a scene together, or someone splits off and does one scene while someone else does the other. It can be awful and end up with committee-driven pablum (see most sitcoms) or it can be terrific and enhanced by having more than one good writer there (see: Mary Tyler Moore show, Arrested Development, etc).

              Likewise, an enormous amount of writing involves research, gathering together information and texture and even just plain synonyms so you can describe the moonlit ocean without having to say the word “luminous” over and over! Many top writers use research assistants for exactly this!

              So I agree completely. The trick is to think laterally–how can the work be divided up so it works best. But these companies have to come to the point where they realize they’re going to have to make a change. It may even end up with a better outcome all round. Certainly it will be more human!

            3. Green great dragon*

              Yes, creative thinking needed. How about 100 hour weeks for the crunch time in the project, but less in the early stages, and some serious downtime between projects

            4. Avril Ludgateau*

              My job is also very, very writing-heavy, and on various projects we have had to split components of the equivalent of a “long-form essay” among several members of my team. This means I have to spend some extra time proofreading, not just for substance and errors but for consistency of tone. However, the work still gets done faster than if I were working on it solo, exclusively and ignoring literally all the rest of my obligations, 40 hours a week.

              100 hours a week, without the aid of illicit stimulants (or legitimate ones obtained illicitly), would probably have much the same results as 4o hours, ultimately, after correcting the errors brought on by lack of focus and exhaustion.

          4. doreen*

            There are lots of jobs where you can’t just pick up where someone else left off at shift change – but plenty of them still allow for twice as many people to be hired and everyone’s workload cut in half. Sure you couldn’t write a single essay in half the time with twice as many people – but you could write two or ten or twenty essays in half the time with twice as many people. And that’s how jobs get shared or work hours get cut a lot of the time- not by one person working 8-12 and another working 12-4 but by dividing the clients/customers/projects so that instead of one social worker working 80 hours a week because he has 60 cases, two with 30 cases each work 40 hours or something similar.

          5. LinuxSystemsGuy*

            I mean, so we’re clear when I was a senior staff officer for a deployed Army battalion in Iraq I worked about 75 hours a week. My “office” was about 5 minutes from my sleeping quarters, and granted I was “on-call” pretty much 24/7, but most weeks I worked 6x 12 hour shifts, and my off time was mostly respected. In a combat zone. Because even the *Army* knows that human people can’t stay “on” that much. 100 hours a week is *crazy*.

            And with proper beginning/end of shift briefings, almost any job can be done by more than one person. In our case my lieutenant and I each did 6×12 hour shifts, and his platoon sergeant picked up the last two. There were definitely weeks where a lot was going on, and I worked 100 or 120 hour week, but that wasn’t the norm, and I literally cannot imagine a non-life-or-death scenario worth doing this to yourself.

            1. Becca*

              Prompted by this, and because I don’t have a good sense of time, I did the math. If we allow for 8 hours of sleep a night (not that people are likely to be getting it, but let’s say they are for the sake of this exercise) that leaves, over a 7 day week, less than 1h45m a day for commute/eating(if they don’t just eat on the job, which they may well do)/housework/whatever other non work things.

              Wow. Yeah, I’m pretty comfortable saying that sustaining that for 2 years would be unreasonable for 99% of people.
              I “burn out” easier than most, but I’ve taken on more than I could do before, because I thought I could. We’re talking about 23 year olds. I have to think many of them thought, no problem, they could handle that for a couple of years. Then the reality of what those hours actually mean hit them and they tried to stick it out, but they ultimately had to leave for their health…

              1. Kal*

                The only people I can imagine maybe being able to do that without serious health repercussions is that one family with the genetic mutation that means they can be perfectly healthy with only 4 hours of sleep. But I’m not sure even they would want to dedicate the extra hours of their waking lives to that.

                For normal people, its not like you can put in your two years then go about your life just fine after. That sort of chronic stress and exhaustion causes serious changes in your body that will follow you the rest of your life. Add in the medical system’s general inability to properly handle chronic illnesses and the cost of healthcare in the US, and you may even spend more money managing your health while being miserable than you gained from working those years. And that’s not even factoring in the significant rates of drug abuse and addiction among people working that sort of schedule, or the effects on your social life and the chronic stress and loneliness you feel never getting to see anyone you love (or getting to even meet the friends or partners you would have loved!) or the stress and loneliness your loved ones feel watching you sacrifice your life on the altar of money.

                Side note: I grew up poor, watching my parents destroy themselves trying to make enough money for us to survive. It sucked having parents too exhausted to have any time to pay attention to me. I don’t think if they were doing that in a high paying job would have been better. I mean, I would have had stuff and not worried about having food or looking poor and out of place at school, but at least I always knew my parents didn’t choose to be absent from my life.

                1. TardyTardis*

                  And then there are the people who can deal with that schedule–but only with chemical assistance, legal or otherwise. The costs of that assistance to the body are well-documented.

          6. Beth O'Connor*

            The fact that the manager has been able to provide staff with time off by covering weekends would suggest that the work is transferable, at least to certain extent. If it weren’t possible to pick up “Jack’s” file and do what needs to be done, then the manager being there wouldn’t have any effect on whether Jack needed to be there or not.

            1. Lizzo*

              I’m envisioning a new structure where you have people work four 10 or 12 hour days across two shifts (Sunday through Wednesday, and Wednesday through Saturday, or some similar configuration so that people do have at least one weekend day off). Have small teams who transfer projects across those shifts so that the number of people who handle the projects is smaller, but is greater than one. That’s still not great, but it’s more manageable (i.e. humane) for the employees!

          7. Observer*

            This is almost certainly investment banking, and it’s not as simple as just cranking out widgets at an assembly line or a customer service job,

            Sure. But that doesn’t mean that staffing patterns cannot be changed. It’s going to take some changes and some hard work. But it CAN be done. It’s high time.

            The likely side effect of that is that the field will wind up with more human being who are actually cognizant of something other than making the MOST money and getting the MOST power at the expense of EVERYTHING else. I don’t just mean at the expense of the rest of the world, but at the expense of everyone in their own orbit, and the expense of their own humanity.

            1. Archaeopteryx*

              Yes, this seems like a monkey’s paw deal where whet wealth at the expense of becoming a much worse version of yourself. It’s not worth it!

              1. TardyTardis*

                Lois McMaster Bujold: “You can trade anything for your heart’s desire–except your heart.”

          8. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Any industry that depends on people working more than 40 hours a week is insane. Of course tasks can be allocated differently. Jobs can always be broken up into smaller bits. It does sometimes make the work less interesting: I remember a student in investment banking whose job as an intern was simply to check the names and addresses of all the people requesting loans. She then passed the files on to another intern who checked their dates of birth and nationalities. Who then passed the files on to another intern who checked their bank account numbers. It sounded mind-numbingly boring to me, but the interns did get a crack at each of those positions.

            Also, people seriously need to get out of the mindset that more hours equals better work.
            As a part-time worker I was more productive than my full-time colleagues, without even factoring in that I worked fewer hours. I translated more words, managed more projects and proofread more words than almost all the full-timers. And my boss worked the kind of hours OP is describing and wasn’t actually all that productive either, although I don’t know her figures and of course she did have to deal with other stuff too. I remember her spending three full days proofreading a text that I would have translated in two (proofreading should take far less time than translating, I’d have allocated a couple of hours to it).

            1. Media Monkey*

              i think that’s banking, not investment banking. investment banking is stocks/ shares/ commodities. not individuals asking for loans.

              1. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

                And respecfully, someone who doesn’t understand the difference between (retail) commercial banking and investment banking has zero business lecturing investment banks about how “any industry that depends on people working more than 40 hours a week is insane.” No one is forcing investment banking analysts to work in the industry.

                1. WindmillArms*

                  …except that this LW *is* asking “how do I force people to stay in this unreasonable job?” The answer is “no one can force them and fewer and fewer people are willing to do it.” He just doesn’t seem to want to hear that answer.

                2. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

                  But OP’s analysts are going to competitors. By and large, they’re working just as hard at those competitors.

                3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  Respectfully, I don’t think you need to know all the ins and outs of mining to say that it’s not a good idea to have small children working in minds. Mine owners would argue that they needed small children to climb into nooks and crannies that large adults couldn’t reach. But there were other ways of doing it that didn’t involve child labour, mines are still working even without children.

                  Similarly, you don’t need to know all the ins and outs of investment banking to say that it’s not a good idea to have adults working 100 hours a week either. It’s a matter of treating your workers like they are human beings rather than robots.

                  In Europe the number of hours people can work is capped, yet the EU has plenty of investment banks. The person I mentioned worked a 35-hr week (which is full-time here in France),

                4. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

                  I’ve spent several years working in the EU (and the City of London, now former EU). Trust me, bankers in those countries work as much as anyone.

                  And in Asia, a lot people outside of banking are working what in the West would be investment banking hours. China, Korea, and Japan are notorioius for it; in China, they call it “9-9-6,” because many, maybe most, white collar works work from 9am to 9pm six days a week. Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian politician, once proposed making the country’s *official* workday last 12 hours.

            2. jenny20*

              this is definitely not investment banking.
              Investment banking might be pitching that company A should acquire company B, what the value of the target company is, how the acquisition should be financed (issuing new equity, raising debt, or other). What the synergies of the merger are, how the stock of the surviving company is expected to trade post-transaction. Who should be in management and on the board.

              This is just one example, but it’s definitely not going to include checking individuals’ birth dates off a list.

              I work in another field in capital markets with close contact with investment banking, though I am not in banking myself. I probably work 80 hours per week, and yeah it can lead to burnout. It’s really difficult when recruiting because so many applicants will say (and genuinely think) they can handle the hours. I like to look for applicants who show drive and ability to handle long working conditions – whether it is the student who volunteered for all the leadership positions in school, the former athlete with a rigorous training schedule, etc.

              1. jenny20*

                also it’s probably instructive to look at patterns.
                Are juniors leaving your team more than others at your firm? It may be an issue with you (I would suggest laying off the ‘back in my day’ comments). Is your firm losing more people than competitors, or are you losing people TO competitors? it might be an issue with policies at your shop. Your deferred comp sounds really punitive, for example.
                Are you losing more people now than you used to? then it’s probably cyclical. That’s tougher to overcome unless you can pay up at bonus time this year and communicate that in advance.

            3. NotAnotherManager!*

              Not all jobs can be broken down into assembly-line tasks or restricted to a 9-5 basis. I worked in legal for years, and there are factors like institutional case knowledge, client restrictions on how many people could be on their cases, and relationship maintenance (a client paying hundreds of dollars per hour generally wants to talk to whomever they feel most comfortable with, not whomever tends to be on call).

              I think the hours OP describes are INSANE, and that’s after over a decade in BigLaw. There are certainly times when crazy hours are required (like leading up to trial or major briefing), but it’s not consistently insane; there are peaks and valleys. If everyone were working 100-hour weeks and weekends for two solid years, that means you need more people. In legal, you staff to the middle, so some times will be insane and others will be normal. Legal also has billable hours requirements, and working more hours is literally how profit is generated.

              1. The OTHER other*

                I have heard this “peaks and valleys” type explanation before and am curious whether in BigLaw the valleys truly make up for the peaks. I remember interviewing for a job that had high seasonal sales, for the months around the holidays it was 60+ hour weeks (and exempt from overtime). But while they were clear about that, once the holidays were over, it wasn’t reduced hours during slow periods, it was simply regular hours—or even a bit higher, they expected 45 hour weeks. So, regular hours 9 months of the year, and basically working 1 1/2 jobs for 3 months for the same rate of pay. I was not especially interested in the industry, so I passed, but it did not seem like a good deal.

                1. NotAnotherManager!*

                  BigLaw considers a 40-hour week to be a valley, though, in my experience, after a trial or other large peak, the majority of the team takes several days to a week off entirely. To make a 2000 hours requirement, you have to bill almost 40 hours/week. As Don Draper says, “That’s what the money is for.” First-year salary in BigLaw is over $200K right now, plus five-figure annual bonuses. It’s not for people who only want to work a 40 hour week regularly.

              2. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

                In legal, you staff to the middle, so some times will be insane and others will be normal. Legal also has billable hours requirements, and working more hours is literally how profit is generated.

                …and yet, probably half of BigLaw lawyers who service investment banking clients want to leave to become investment bankers themselves.

                1. Avril Ludgateau*

                  probably half of BigLaw lawyers who service investment banking clients want to leave to become investment bankers themselves.

                  Where are you getting this information? Are there statistics that show 50% of BigLaw lawyers quitting law and re-training to go into IB? Or are you mistaking convivial but perfunctory admiration of your paycheck from the lawyers drafting your contracts as an actual desire to hop over to your industry? “Ha ha boy I got into the wrong field, didn’t I?” when working on 7, 8+ figure deals does not actually reflect an intent to change careers, so I would love to see actual data to support this bold claim.

                  I’m noticing you defending the OP practices all over this thread and it is hard to ignore the aroma of insecurity. I would ask that we leave “they’re just jealous” and “they hate us ‘cuz they ain’t us” attitudes on the playground where they belong, and consider that most people do not wish to live to work, that 100 hrs a week is excessive even if you do love your job, and having different priorities does not actually make anybody inferior to you.

                2. The Buddhist Viking*

                  Speaking as a recovering BigLaw escapee: No, they really, really don’t. As they said in Citizen Kane, “Well, it’s no trick to make a lot of money, if all you want is to make a lot of money.” Most people want more than that.

                3. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

                  Where are you getting this information? Are there statistics that show 50% of BigLaw lawyers quitting law and re-training to go into IB?

                  I trained at BigLaw as a corporate lawyer before making the jump to finance. I’m giving a seat-of-the-pants estimate from what I heard from people around my level of seniority. To be sure, it’s not a scientific poll and (like Buddhist Viking below), YMMV. Moreover, my firm had a reputation for being a possible jumping point into finance, which is one reason I picked it out of law school, and I’m sure others did too. Finally, I’d say only about 20% of those who mused about “life on the client side” actually made any real effort to move (e.g., learning to model, taking the CFA exam, networking more with bankers than lawyers, etc.), and of those, fewer than half were successful. I feel very lucky that I made it.

                  What I will say non-anecdotally, however, is that there’s a small cottage industry dedicated to helping lawyers leave law, a large subset of which preps them for finance. It wouldn’t exist if demand were zero. There’s also considerable traffic on the subject on law blogs and places like Wall Street Oasis.

                  consider that most people do not wish to live to work

                  I’ve never said otherwise. Investment banking isn’t for most people. Neither is BigLaw. The Wall Street/Sand Hill Road/City lawyers who want to make the jump have already self-selected into that world. Plenty of bankers leave at some point, too.

                  What I would as *you* to consider is that not everyone shares your preference to leave work at 5:00 pm. People who seek investment banking jobs have agency. They’ve made the calculation that the money/experience/prestige/whatever other benefits they obtain are worth the tradeoffs. (For me, a big part of the draw is the ability to live in cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, or London.) They’re not being brainwashed into working at banks, and if they get tired of it, they leave.

                  A lot of them go to places like private equity firms or hedge funds, where if they’re lucky, they can parlay their banking experience into something more lucrative that, while still not a 9-to-5 job, has a considerable better lifestyle. Or some leave finance entirely (I read of one ex-banker, from Lazard IIRC, who opened a cupcake bakery).

          9. Barry*

            At 100 hrs per week, if only 25% were amenable to switching, that could take people down to ‘merely’ 75 hours per week.

        2. Curious*

          Back in the Dark Ages (i.e., 1975) there was a book titled “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering.” (I apologize for the sexist term assigned by the author). It noted that “[workers] and months are interchangeable commodities only when a task can be partitioned among many workers with no communication
          among them.”
          There are inevitable inefficiencies when you add staff to a task (to be sure, there are countervailing inefficiencies when your staff are sleep-deprived. I expect that there is a reason why the staff involved in the post tend to be in their early 20’s). Indeed, increases in necessary communication as staff numbers risk appear to increase complexity at least geometrically.
          The (then-common) demonstration of the limitation of the ability to compress time necessary for delivery by adding contributors, interestingly enough, refers to women: If one woman can have a baby in nine months, how fast can you have a baby with nine women?

          1. BeenThere*

            Came here to mention this book, am not disappointed. I had to mention this book when a lot of our fresh engineers were exposed to the business side calculating how many software engineers we need to hire for all the work they want done. Many objected to being treated as a number, I’ve been around too long to know I am a number. I suggested that our presenter should probably revisit this book and that our engineers should read it too if they haven’t.

          2. Observer*

            That book made some good points. But what he had to say can be take waaaay too far.

            Take an example of the development of covid vaccines. A lot of people were saying “it’s just not possible to do this so quickly”. But it happened. Yes, there is a limit to how fast it can be done, but it turns out that the lower limits was closer to 12-18 months than 5-10 years.

            Sure, it’s a different set of issues, but even in the particular set of industries he was talking about he was not entirely correct. In almost any industry, it’s possible to not task individuals with 100 work weeks. If it REALLY is not possible to do so, then the industry is toxic, dangerous to society and so unsustainable and unstable that it needs to be dismantled deliberately before it crashes with maximum amount of pain and collateral damage.

            1. MsSolo (UK)*

              I mean, part of the vaccine thing was cutting out the literal years spent on bureaucracy and chasing funding – it turns out if you take the capitalism out of medicine it’s a lot more efficient.

              1. londonedit*

                And the fact that they’d been working on mRNA vaccines for years and just needed a global pandemic in order to start using them – the way I saw it explained on a BBC programme was that they had everything ready to go, they just needed the scientists in Wuhan to email over the genetic code for Covid-19 and they slotted that into the waiting vaccines.

                1. Greg*

                  Six hours. Six hours after the Chinese scientists uploaded COVID’s genetic code the vaccine was developed.

                2. Observer*

                  That’s not exactly the whole story. Yes, a lot of things fell into place for this to happen. But some of the people expressing skepticism were aware of all of this. And keep in mind that it wasn’t just the MRNA vaccines that came on line so quickly. There are also the adenovirus vector vaccines, and those are technologies that have been used many times already so this was nothing new.

                  But one of the things that happened was that instead of doing things sequentially and in small bites, some things were done concurrently and at much larger scale. eg Phase 1 and 2 trials were done together. And instead of doing a series of increasingly larger Phase 3 trials, all of the companies did LARGE phase 3 trials at once. Both of those things shaved years off development time.

              2. Green Beans*

                A lot of people were working crazy hours. And a lot of people were working on it period.

                It was a combination of previous work and an almost limitless amount of money and manpower being poured into the COVID response and it burned a lot of people out.

                1. Observer*

                  A LOT of people were working on it – and that’s my point. That’s not the only factor of course, but the fact that they scaled so many of these things up made a huge difference.

                  But it’s undoubtedly true that a lot of people got burned out because they were working insane hours. And that speaks to the OP’s problem. None of them worked those hours for 2 years, yet so many burned out. And they KNEW that what they were doing could literally change the world for better and save uncounted lives. But they still burned out.

                  If literally changing the world can’t keep people from burning out after “only” 9-12 months if insane working conditions, what do you expect when all you can offer is money, unreasonable and entitled clients, and a promise to “try” to cap hours at 100 per week?

            2. Data Bear*

              @Vaca, I’m late to the party, so I don’t know if you’ll see this, but I want to be explicit about some things that other people have been dancing around, and say them as baldly and clearly as I can. Because I think this needs to be said.

              Your job is asking you to do evil.

              You should not do that.

              That’s not in any way hyperbole. Doing harm to other people for your own benefit is evil. Hiring young people to work 100-hour weeks non-stop for two years, no matter the compensation package, will be deeply harmful to their mental and physical health and will do profound damage to their lives. It is immoral and wrong.

              It sounds like similar harm has already been done to you, and that was also wrong. It should not have happened, and you deserved better. You may feel that the money you were paid made up for it, but you were still harmed for others’ benefit, and that was wrong. I’m sorry that happened to you.

              If this kind of soul-grinding overwork an unchangeable aspect of your industry, then to paraphrase the Zoidberg meme, “Your industry is bad and you should feel bad for participating in it.” You cannot ethically ask people to do this. If you want to be a good person, you have to push back in some way and say no to unquestioningly following this course of action.

              Being in the position you are now in, you have a moral obligation to try to change things. Maybe you won’t succeed. Maybe the best option is to quit your job and force them to find someone else to do it (from what sounds like an increasingly smaller pool). But you should try to do something. Even if you can do nothing else, you can choose not to help perpetuate the cycle of violence. Because working people that hard for that long is a form of violence, and it is bad, and immoral, and wrong.

              Don’t do it.

              Working people that hard is also, not to mince words, really stupid.

              (I say it that way not to offend, but to be absolutely clear, and in hopes that it may drive the point home.)

              There are studies from more than 100 years ago that showed, scientifically and objectively, that factory workers are optimally productive working 40 hours per week. More than that and their total productivity drops. That’s for standing in front of an assembly line making widgets. For knowledge work, it’s even less than that.

              Nobody can work 100 hours per week for two years straight and be doing a good job of it. It doesn’t matter what everyone in your industry believes, if they think that people can put out quality work at that pace for that long, they are flat-out wrong. That’s not how human beings work, and the people in your industry are not magical unicorns immune to the limitations of physiology. You’re making your junior staff do bad work. That’s dumb.

              You can get away with pushing hard and working crunch-time hours for a few weeks at best. After that it’s a net loss. By asking junior staff to work 100-hour weeks nonstop for two years, you are getting dramatically less out of them than you would if they were working a sane amount. Your company is seriously handicapping itself by doing this.

              And if this is standard for the industry, it’s probably the case that EVERYONE is operating significantly below capacity all the time, and you’re all too perpetually sleep-deprived, burned-out, and traumatized to realize it. Working that much is a terrible idea, and you should not do that. It’s bad.

              I realize that you’re one person, and these are systemic issues much bigger than you, and your power to enact change is limited. And it really sucks to be in that position. But I also think it’s imperative to be clear about the nature of these problems, and to name them for what they are. The whole situation is seriously fucked-up, and you should try to fix whatever you can, and also you should probably get out of there yourself.

              I wish you well, and I hope you’re able to make a change for the better.

          3. The OTHER other*

            I haven’t read this book and it sounds interesting, but honestly I cannot fathom how a company, much less an entire industry, would expect interns to work 100+ hour weeks for two years, no matter how highly paid, as though it were normal. “Whelp, it’s always been like this” is not much of a reason.

            The vast majority of businesses are NOT like this, and despite this vast body of evidence, plus the interns themselves are saying NO, the LW is thinking of ways to try to reconfigure the pay to force people to stay. IMO the more obvious conclusion is the work hours need to change. That the LW is not seeing that indicates to me there is a huge cognitive disconnect here and the company, if not the entire industry, is inflexible and unimaginative.

        3. Cat Tree*

          Honestly, hire twice as many people and still pay them the full amount. That would surely still be cheaper than replacing them every 6-9 months.

        4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Even if you have to pay them slightly more, the firm will be saving money simply because the staff will be prepared to stay on. Also, starting at a much lower salary means they might get phenomenal pay rises once they’ve completed the programme.

        5. Bluesboy*

          But it ISN’T a competitive salary if you cut it in half. An investment bank doesn’t offer high salaries to juniors out of the kindness of their heart – they do it because they aren’t competitive if they don’t.

          I think this idea might work, but in a different way. People on their first experience will still believe they can manage that timetable, will still suffer, will still leave when they realise what it entails. You’ll probably end up with less quality applicants and they will still leave.

          But…you might be able to replace them with already trained applicants from other banks who have realised that they don’t want to live like that and are willing to take a pay cut in order to, you know, actually see their kids occasionally.

          Huge risk though. You might end up with weaker applicants without actually managing to bring in the experienced ones.

          (I’m an investment banker myself, although fortunately in a country without the 100-hour week culture. Believe me, money is 90% of what we talk about, I just don’t believe that a junior is going to join if they can make twice as much somewhere else).

          The whole industry needs to make a huge cultural shift.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            But you can’t look at salary without also looking at hours to say whether it is competitive. The change in hours would be part of what the applicants would be applying for. Obviously $130k for 100 hours is not going to but it, but it would be when you do $130k salary for 50 hours per week would absolutely be competitive and more than a kid straight out of school who actually wants to be able to breathe outside of the office and see their family and friends more than once a year would find in most other industries.

            1. Bluesboy*

              I think that you’re 100% right; the problem is that I don’t think the decision makers will agree with you.

              You’re absolutely right that the hours are important. But let’s say that OPs company is ABC bank. A junior decides they would prefer that trade-off, less (but still more than adequate) money and a more balanced timetable.

              Their CV is going to show them choosing ABC bank – a place where they work less. It’s going to be interpreted as showing that they aren’t ambitious, that they aren’t prepared to make those sacrifices for the bank.

              I’m not saying that nobody would choose that. I just don’t think it would be the top choice for most juniors who have something to prove and a whole career ahead of them UNLESS the bank in question were a huge name in the industry. Of course I might be wrong!

              Somebody a few years into the business is different. They have already established something and have a reputation. That’s why if I were the OP I would focus more heavily on recruiting that kind of person than juniors. They are already trained, have made a decision to create a better work/life balance and better understand the compromise they are making. I think you could get real loyalty from someone like that who appreciates what the company is giving them in terms of balance and cut down your turnover that way.

            2. NC*

              One thing people forget when looking at pay per hours worked is how expensive it is to work a lot…. No time to cook? UberEats. No time to clean? Drycleaning. Laundry woman.Car breaks down? No time to fix that, taxis…

              Working hard is not cheap.

          2. Cdn Acct*

            Your post brings up this question for me: if investment banking in the US (I assume) is ‘just this way’, but you work in investment banking in another country and don’t have the crazy hours, then there has to be a way for the original firm to not require them.
            What are 23-year-old junior employees working on for 100 hours a week that can’t be split up across more people? I just can’t think of anything like that, I’d be interested in hearing what exactly is so unique or ‘complex’ that the same person has to do all 100 hours of work.

            1. Bluesboy*

              There are definitely projects where it’s best to have one person working on them. And there are certainly busy weeks when a project is coming to its conclusion.

              But if you’re doing a 100-hour week on one project, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t slow down after that to take a breather, unless you immediately get another project. And if you need to immediately give someone another 100-hour per week project the second they finish one, you’re understaffed.

              Either these juniors are working on multiple projects, in which case the work could be split between more workers, or they are working intensively on individual projects, in which case with more staff you could share those projects around more.

              I think the issue is essentially that you have to offer huge salaries to be competitive; that means that you don’t want to employ the number of people you should to do the work, which means the individuals are overworked. It’s all about containing costs while at the same time paying huge salaries.

              We need one of the big banks, like Goldman to say “we’re not going to do this anymore” and offer a better work-life balance. I don’t see it happening any time soon though. There’s the “I did it and I survived so they have to do it too” mentality.

          3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            I’m pretty sure that most of those burnt-out juniors would have taken less pay for healthy schedules. Especially given that there’s clearly more money for those prepared to work harder.

      2. Your local password resetter*

        Yeah, 100k is still a good salary, even in a high COL area and with student debts.

        And it wont be as competitive as the 100 hour salary, but you have better life-work balance in exchange, and your employees clearly prefer the latter.

        1. BlueK*

          100k doesn’t go as far as you’d think. I live in NYC and BigLaw pays what it pays because law school is expensive. When you have a quarter million in loans…Plus, taxes. I paid nearly 40% when I was earning that salary. No deductions and fed, state, and city. It adds up. Which it should! I’m all for progressive taxation. Just means 100k only goes so far.

          I know it’s not law though because we don’t have fixed hours (unpredictability is worse in some ways…). And BigLaw’s business model is based on significant attrition. Plus, it’s a jump in the deep end field. You definitely get better at it with time but you learn as you go. Definitely missed some formal training due to actual work taking precedence.

        2. Splendid Colors*

          Not sure what you define as a “high COL area”: I live in a city that’s consistently been in the top 5 highest rents for years. Our Area Median Income is above $100K and people making $80-90K qualify for “affordable housing.”

          1. AnxiousAspie*

            Earning more than 50% of people in the area as a starting salary straight out of school still sounds pretty good to me.

            1. AnxiousAspie*

              Apologies, I missed the word “above” – my kingdom for an edit button. The point still stands, though, that it’s a starting salary, not a lifetime wage limit.

          2. londonedit*

            I live in London and even if I earned $100k rather than £100k it would still be over twice my current salary.

        3. A*

          Definitely depends on the area. I’ve lived in several high COL cities in the US where $100k is really only a bare bones living wage / the starting point where you stand at least a slight chance of not having to live with a large number of roommates and having some level of discretionary spending.

      3. Koalafied*

        Halfway through the question my brain seized up and started repeating “ONE HUNDRED HOURS” like a robot short circuiting.

        I hope to the gods that’s an exaggeration. That’s over 14 hours a day 7 days a week. Ffs at that point you might as well put a room full of cots in and tell prospective hires they shouldn’t expect to leave the premises for 2 years.

        The audacity of an employer who thinks that is an okay thing to make employees do as a routine matter of course.

        1. Rayray*

          Seriously, who wouldn’t get totally burnt out with that schedule? That’s got to be just so insanely unhealthy. No one can work those hours and still maintain their mental and physical well-being. You’d basically work, sleep, repeat with barely any time to eat, exercise, shower, socialize, see family or friends, enjoy hobbies etc.

          This company really needs to rethink how absurdly demanding this is.

          1. Porcubear*

            Makes me think of the employee set up in a book called The Warehouse by Rob Hart. The company is what seems to be a fictional combination of Amazon and a couple of others and it’s a world where the economy is even worse than it is now so getting a job there is a MASSIVE deal. You get to live onsite and everything! Sure, your room is basically twice the size of a single bed (including the bed) and you wear a bracelet that tracks you everywhere you go and security coming on and off shift is massively time consuming but if you’re even a minute late you get a big red mark against your name and you have targets and quotas and in theory you can go to medical if you get hurt but in reality it won’t look good on your record and and and… But hey, it’s a job.

          2. Zelda*

            I mean, the high salary stops being any incentive if it’s purely numbers in a bank statement– if you have zero time to spend any of it on anything enjoyable. What’s the difference whether that digit over there is an 8 or a 9 if it’s just an abstraction?
            Maybe some of them winding up spending it on various stimulants so they can get through their days…

        2. Good Vibes Steve*

          The human brain can’t sustain this, not over two years. People are leaving because their brains are fried.

          What’s the point of all this money if you’re miserable?

        3. Jasper*

          At that point, like… seriously, why would I pay for a most likely Manhattan-priced apartment I never see? Might as well use the dorms on site that they should definitely have and get a hotel room the one night a month I’m outside the company.

        4. London Calling*

          Years ago I did a month of 50 hour weeks, I was an exhausted sleep deprived robot making mistake after mistake, and that was a major factor in leaving that job. I cannot begin to imagine what 100 hours a week is like for 2 years.

          OP, is this Goldman Sachs?

          1. TardyTardis*

            Although I understand SpaceX runs on that kind of schedule and expects to chew up engineers within a few years; still looks good on the resume, and once they’re burned out, there’s always Blue Origins now willing to throw serious money at things.

          2. aghast*

            My company is so strapped for employees right now I’ve been working 60 hour weeks for the last four months – that’s 12/5 for the record. All I have time to do on my days off is sleep and do laundry. My house is a disaster, I haven’t socialized with anyone since June, and I’m starting to really worry about my long term health.

            I informed my agency last week that I’ll be cutting back to 40 hours a week in January because this is killing me. I cannot imagine what 100 hours a week would be like.

    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      All I could think is it reminded me so much of the frats on campus back when I was in collage. The whole idea of ‘Well, *I* was made to suffer, so the suffering must have been for important reasons, so I need to make the next class suffer too’. I’ve seen that idea so much in toxic ways – when I was lifeguarding, the ways seniors treated freshmen in high school, in sports. Just… why does anyone need to suffer? Can’t you go through the system, realize the system is bad and change it when you have the power to? People act like all the bad stuff they went through was for nothing if the next people don’t have to do it too, but wouldn’t it be better if the bad stuff you went through helped you build up empathy to help the next people in line?

      It just shocks me that ‘Pay them half as much and cut their hours in half’ wasn’t glaringly obvious, because it was super clear to me just reading the letter, and I feel like it was clear to most people here.

      1. Seriously?*

        Right? And his only thought was I must punish them? They are basically working 2 1/2 jobs at one time. The pay is not worth it. People don’t want to do it. Change or die.

      2. Sloanico*

        Also, OP herself would presumably feel better if she was making more / made more at the time versus the new hires. She’s going to have to find a way to feel better about that me vs. them thing (I have to pick up the weekends if they don’t work them, etc); I’ve been there, and the answer is to advocate for yourself and what you need. Not drag other people down.

      3. Kahunabob*

        The frat boy mentality is unfortunately yet another sign of toxic masculinity disguised as a rite of passage. Like hazing. I don’t know what it’s like in the US and Canada, but it feels like in general it’s getting more extreme every year. Like every class is trying to outdo the previous one.

      4. It's Growing!*

        This reminds me of the hospital interns required to work horrible, long hours. If I come into the ER/ED, I really don’t want some zonked out junior working his 92nd hour this week doing anything important to my body. (Do they still do that? It was always a horrible idea.)

        1. green beans*

          To a certain extent, because long shifts are actually necessary to training/education (they need to see as many different cases from start to finish as possible during their internships – there was a push at one point to do “normal” shifts and a lot of feedback came in that interns weren’t getting the exposure/education they needed, from the interns and mentors.)

          but there’s more and more focus on getting the hours down to a more manageable level and balancing the need for long shifts with time off/not working 80+ hr weeks.

          1. L*

            It’s not necessary to have long shifts – if the interns need more exposure, then the internships need to be longer. People don’t learn well when they’re that taxed anyway.

            1. green beans*

              the long shifts are necessary because interns need to see individual cases from start to finish. You can definitely argue for longer breaks in between shifts and therefore a longer internship overall, but I (and many people) would strongly prefer a doctor who has been through the entire diagnostic and treatment process with a patient before whenever possible, as opposed to one who has seen half here and a bit here, and a piece there. Not seeing cases through is a really good way to end up with a doctor who misses a small but critical detail once they’re on their own.

              1. Andy*

                Very very honestly, I would really liked study on that. Even if this was true, there would be no need for such long *regular* shifts all the time. If it is for the purpose of seeing the case from start to finish, they could stay once in a while specifically for that.

                Meanwhile we have studies that show how lack of sleep is detrimental to learning, memory, reflexes, logical thinking. They are being affected by these and no one worries about their learning.

              2. Kal*

                I’m not certain a doctor who saw that small but critical detail in a diagnostic process they got to see all the way through but at the 92nd hour that week is going to actually have a brain capable of recording and recalling that small but critical detail. Given the number of people I know who had glaringly obvious critical details get missed, I can’t say the current system works.

                A doctor who can’t recall seeing something because their residency was an exhausted blur and thus can’t recognise it clearly has not learned from that experience in their residency. A doctor who has seen something before, but only once and thus discounts someone as not having the thing because it can present different ways in different people is a bad doctor, falling into the problem of a little knowledge being worse than no knowledge.

                When I’m in the ER, I prefer doctors who aren’t exhausted, even if they have never seen someone with my issues through the entire process before. Its not like doctors are even able to see all of the possible injuries, conditions and disorders in the world anyway, no matter how many hours and how many years they do a residency. There will always be gaps in their knowledge. A system that acknowledges that a large part of their job is going to be reading and writing notes and researching things they don’t know would go a lot farther than a system that prioritizes the idea that you just have to have seen a patient through the process one time 15 years ago while you were severely sleep deprived.

                Patient hand-off is a critical skill to learn; learning how to read through the patient’s notes from before you saw them and then do your part before writing appropriate notes and handing them off to the next care provider is utterly critical. Because that is what working life for a doctor is – you play an important role in the patient’s care, but you aren’t the only person who will ever be involved. Doctors are always a part of a care team, and seeing half of the patient’s process here and a bit here and a piece there is what the job is.

            2. Koalafied*

              Another reason they do long hours (but should be giving generous days off between shifts) is because most avoidable medical errors are made at the beginning of a shift. Things fall through the cracks or don’t get recorded in meticulous detail. So the idea is “continuity of care” – reduce the number of shift changes during any given patient’s stay so that the people treating them have first hand recollection of what’s happened do far and aren’t trying to clean everything from notes alone.

          2. Academic Physician*

            It’s actually still illegal to work more than 80 hrs/wk (of course there are some tricks to this) as a medical trainee unless you are a neurosurgeon.

            As a person who worked across both sides of this divide as it was happening, there is absolutely a hazing component and some of the “complaints” from trainees about efforts to control hours were coerced from above.

            Another component of the complaints was all of the jury-rigging that happened in order to achieve the letter of the law without having to hire more people (I once had a shift schedule where I had exactly 24 hours off and my colleague also had exactly 24 hours off only if we had no overlap and NO HANDOFF — obviously, we weren’t going to do that because that would harm patients, so we both only got 23 hours off, which was, at that time, technically a violation, because we were supposed to get 24 hours off every week.

            There are legitimate concerns about volume of experience when limiting hours — trainees now absolutely do less than they did 20 years ago — but a lot of that was probably state-dependent learning

            I ABSOLUTELY felt/feel the burden of shifting work from apprentices to more senior persons now that I’m one of the senior people

            There has been a LOT of pushback on work hour limits, but, my experience has been that all of my worst mistakes as a physician have been after midnight when I’d been up since 4am the day before.

              1. AJoftheInternet*

                I’ve heard of cases of 24+ hour brain surgeries. I would guess they need the exemption so they aren’t knee-deep in someone’s brain and suddenly corporate calls and says, “You have to leave because it’s illegal for you to keep working.”

                1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  But then they should have an equivalent time off, and it doesn’t seem like that’s part of the “exception”.

            1. green beans*

              Yeah, the system is changing but it definitely needs to change more. It’s a really complex problem, but one that needs to be solved – doctors need to be trained to avoid future mistakes, but they also need to be well-rested to avoid current mistakes.

            2. Observer*

              I ABSOLUTELY felt/feel the burden of shifting work from apprentices to more senior persons now that I’m one of the senior people

              This is ridiculous. There is absolutely no reason for this. We hear all of this handwringing about not enough doctors going into practice and there not being enough internship slots for all the qualified students out there. Well, if we opened more slots, all three problems would be solved.

              1. Boof*

                Opening more slots is actually a funding issue; residency and fellowship slots are mostly funded by the government so they’re the ones who have to approve an expansion.

                That being said when it comes to the raw day to day work many residents do, midlevels (pas and nps) can be very good at doing those too. So yeah the hospital has to hire people not rely on cheap labor (my current hospital does just that, my own residency had not) – just not more trainees

                1. Boof*

                  Observer – nesting end! Yes they can hire midlevels instead
                  I wonder if OP can explore the (investment banking) equivalent of hiring more support staff to unload the trainees from things that they really don’t need to be doing (or only doing for a short time to properly understand what they are/how they work)?

          3. Your local password resetter*

            Can’t they just make the internships longer then?
            I know med schooling already takes forever, but this seems like penny wise pound foolish. Especially if you keep losing people due to burnout and work overload.

            1. AVP*

              Yeah, I actually can’t believe that *that’s* the justification for all of that. Maybe the poster is wrong but eesh I hope all of this hasn’t been ruining lives for decades just so they can see a wider variety of cases and literally no one could make it happen any other way.

              1. green beans*

                …you cannot ethically “make” diseases and disorders happen at a convenient time for training purposes. Which makes training doctors tricky, and a much different prospect than training most professions.
                Not saying the system is okay the way it is, but I’d also like my surgeons to have, whenever humanly possible, performed the entirety of the procedure they are doing on me before with the training of an expert.

            2. green beans*

              No, it’s not about length of internship in years. It’s literally about the length of the shift. You want to see a case in its entirety whenever possible. So I go into the hospital with weird symptoms and get seen by an intern, they do testing, dead end, attending says, oh but look at this symptom/thing you missed or didn’t look for or whatever, they do different testing, ah! diagnosis, they treat, response, great! Or they treat, no response, they try something else, oh that works better for this particular circumstance.

              But if they come in or leave halfway through that, they’ve missed a lot; they weren’t actually able to go through the entire diagnostic/treatment process. And seeing half of a bunch of cases isn’t the same thing as running a differential diagnosis or a treatment protocol all the way through for a patient, or multiple patients. (ie, I do not want my ob-gyn coming in and saying, “I saw most of many labors during my training!” I want them coming in having been present through the entirety of multiple labors and births and experienced in difficult complications from start to finish.)

              Yes, they can read case files and get caught up, but it’s not the same as doing it yourself, which is critical to train in differential diagnosis process. Especially if it’s an atypical presentation or a rare disease/disorder. (rare enough that the hospital sees less than 1 a year, for instance.) You can’t (ethically) make diseases appear when it’s convenient for people to learn.

              So. Training programs have to balance the need to see cases all the way through with the very real need of the interns to have work-life balance.

              1. Boof*

                Ehh, hospitals tend to run a lot slower than you think. One can probably leave for 8-12 hrs and not miss much outside of the icu.
                Rough timelines – routine stuff / mild problems = routine outpatient visit
                Stuff that should be looked at in the next day or two to decide if it needs treatment / workup = urgent care our outpatient urgent visit
                Stuff that needs to be reevaluated daily = inpatient hospital floor
                Stuff that needs at least hourly monitoring/updates = icu (some places have more layers than that but that’s the rough idea)
                I’m also a little dubious about stressing long shifts over teaching good handoff skills.

                I found my attention really starts to flag at the 12-16 hr mark on the long shifts. Icu here i think manages by rounding several times a day and the ongoing and outgoing shifts are present and seeing the pts together with the attending.

              2. MeMeAndMe*

                green beans said: “No, it’s not about length of internship in years. It’s literally about the length of the shift. You want to see a case in its entirety whenever possible.”

                I just…don’t even understand this, or the other comments about long hours are necessary because they allow interns to see a case through from start to finish, participate/witness all the all the triaging, diagnosing, decision-making, backtracking & re-diagnosing, etc.

                But…that’s not happening anyhow?

                You can’t schedule patients/emergencies to arrive at the same time as interns’ shifts begin. Interns will always start shifts with cases that are in the middle of the process. And you can’t ensure the decision-making/diagnostic/treatment planning process will end at the same moment their ridiculously-long shift ends. It’s just…odd to assume a long shift will somehow neatly line up with patient care.

                The ability to transfer cases well, to write good notes, to assimilate information you’re reading or being told, & to make decisions and pick up care seems equally–or more–important. As does the mental capacity to apply high-quality observational & critical thinking skills to patients you’ve ‘inherited.’ Being well-rested is pretty important to performing *those* tasks. As others have said, having a brain-dead exhausted intern doesn’t seem like it provides ideal patient care.

                Insanely long hours seems to be more about a badge of honor, passing on ‘the grind,’ a little (or a lot) bit of hazing, the belief that “suffering means you’re working hard,” and a good bit of “I had to deal with this crap so you have to too.”

                To LW, green beans, & anyone with decision-making power in industries which require insanely long hours to break in…when you require these kind of heartbreaking, mind-bending hours, sure, maybe you weed out anyone who can’t handle them. But who else do you weed out?

                There are great, skillful, smart, intuitive, hard-working people in all fields who simply can’t–or won’t–participate if insanely long hours are the cutoff. There are skill sets and strengths above & beyond “work until you’re psychotic to prove you belong here.” You’re losing all those people.

          4. The Dogman*

            “To a certain extent, because long shifts are actually necessary to training/education (they need to see as many different cases from start to finish as possible during their internships – there was a push at one point to do “normal” shifts and a lot of feedback came in that interns weren’t getting the exposure/education they needed, from the interns and mentors.) ”

            None of that is correct. There is no requirement to do long hours to become a good nurse or doctor.

            The idea an intern needs to see case from start to finish makes no sense since many “cases” (and you really mean patients I think) will often go over multiple days and interns, along with nurses and docs will need to learn the skill of patient care handovers, which are much more important than remembering every detail of a patient you will never see again.

            There is a requirement to do long hours to enrich the people who own the hospitals and insurance companies.

            If the workers are too tired to unionise and organise then the capitalists can do what they do best.

            Exploit people.

            1. green beans*

              It’s not about remembering every detail of a patient you’ll never see again. It’s about the chance to do something in its entirety, on your own, with experienced supervision, as a learning process. Learning through doing is important. I wouldn’t train someone by having them do only partial-processes; sometimes I’m like watch what you can, but there comes a point where I need them there for the entire thing, first to watch and then to do.

              Yes, lots of cases are complex and require multi-day care. Sometimes multi-day care cases have a critical diagnostic period that is relatively short and cannot ethically be delayed until the trainees arrive – and differential diagnosis is a really key point of doctor training. Lots of other things (like surgery) happen in a set, relatively short timeframe.

              This does not mean interns need to work 80 hrs/week. It does mean that there’s a strong argument for long shifts with time to sleep, where after a specific cutoff period the focus is on wrapping up cases, followed by long periods of time off to rest/rejuvenate.

              1. andy*

                I was in hospital and did not had single doctor caring about me for hours. Most of the time there was waiting. Procedures did not took 12 hours, everyone was competed by single te without them having to be there 12 hours.

                Most of care is not urgent. It is planned over multiple days.

            2. Lizard Breath*

              I absolutely agree that the hours can be tough and that there’s probably a way to carve this down. But hospitalized patients have a LOT of details that go into care, and every handoff increases the chances that a ball gets dropped. Even as a resident, and especially now that I’m an attending physician, there is a HUGE difference between the 2 following scenarios:

              1) Intern Aaliyah is on 27 hour call (24 + 3 for handovers). She meets Mr Jones in the Emergency Department where he has been diagnosed with pneumonia. He’s gotten some antibiotics in the ED, she notices in his records that he was recently hospitalized elsewhere and switches them for better coverage of the germs you get in hospitals. Over the course of the day he gradually starts to have more difficulty breathing. She upgrades him to a higher flow of oxygen and, when she checks on him overnight he’s still having trouble but now having chest pain, which she knows he was not having before. She does an EKG and some labs and realizes he’s having cardiac issues on top of his pneumonia and starts appropriate management. He doesn’t look good to her so she calls the ICU. The ICU team swings by around 8AM while she’s handing off her patients to her day team and she is able to give them a full rundown of his hospital course.

              2) Intern Boris is on 12 hour shifts. He meets Mr Jones in the Emergency Department where he has been diagnosed with pneumonia. He’s gotten some antibiotics in the ED, he notices in his records that he was recently hospitalized elsewhere and switches them for better coverage of the germs you get in hospitals. Over the course of the day he gradually starts to have more difficulty breathing. He upgrades him to a higher flow of oxygen and signs out to Intern Claudia. At 10 PM Intern Claudia is called to see Mr. Jones, who is complaining of chest pain. She knows pneumonia can cause chest pain and he is kind of vague about whether he’s had this before, so she spends 10 minutes trying to check his chart to see if anyone noted whether he’s had chest pain before. During this time she gets six pages about other things she needs to do. She finally decides that he hasn’t, so she orders an EKG and labs and realizes he’s having cardiac issues on top of his pneumonia and starts appropriate management. She signs out to Intern Dominick at 7AM, but he’s looked terrible the whole time she’s “known” him so she doesn’t realize he’s deteriorating. The team goes by at 8AM for rounds and realizes that he’s very ill. They call the ICU team, who come by and ask about him and at that point Intern Dominick, who is now responsible for him, shuffles through his notes, says, “uh, I dunno, I just got signout, let’s see, he was admitted yesterday with pneumonia…” and the whole thing has to be reconstructed, wasting a ton of time and offering a lot of chances to miss things. The care ends up being appropriate in both cases, but which patient would you rather be? (And this is a not very complicated patient scenario. Most of the time on internal medicine services patients have 4-8 simultaneous medical problems going on between chronic issues and acute problems. Mr Jones probably also has diabetes, maybe some chronic kidney disease, might be on blood thinners, etc.)

              1. Necandum*

                Hello from a junior doc from over the pond (Australia)!

                In my smallish rural hospital our shifts are routinely 8hours in ED and Med, slightly longer at 12 for the registrar’s doing admissions and on weekends. As far as I’m aware, we do not have worse patient outcomes compared to the US.

                We have a minimum of two, sometimes more, handovers for every medical admission: one from the ED team to the admitting registrar (3-4th year trainee), and from the admitting registrar to the day team. We also have a lovely nursing team who call MET calls (Code Blue -lite) if the patient so much as sneezes out of turn, meaning they get senior review if things are starting to go downhill.

                Scenario number two can definitely happen, but the admission note is usually thorough enough that it is the only document that needs to be referenced in the first 24hrs, so not much digging through the chart required. And honestly, in ED I’ve probably picked up more things after a handover that the first person missed compared to things being lost in translation, although I guess that’s an inherently biased assessment.

                Overall, it seems to work fine. I mean, at least half our patients survive til discharge!
                But seriously, if anyone suggested we work 24hr shifts there would be a riot.

                1. Loolooloo*

                  This! It’s cultural. Everyone in US medical fields I know will tell you about turnover of care, but what is that nonsense when there’s tons of research on how damaging both sleep deprivation is on the brain and reduced productivity over shift length, irrespective of field. Honestly, I think it’s just an industry-wide excuse because scheduling in 12 hour-increments easier. Plus, enough people truly prefer more days off and 3 or 4 days of longer shifts over the week, making sensible shift hours an impossible cultural shift. When you look at data on patient outcomes in the US compared with other countries which don’t routinely work medical staff to the bones, you’ll see that our outcomes are often significantly worse in some widely-used comparative measures. There are of course other factors, like the fact that our medical personnel are more highly-paid than in other countries, but that comes with the expected trade-off of more hours, too.

              2. gmg22*

                The complete absence of the word “nurse” in both these scenarios is … jarring. Basically what I’m coming away with here is this: “I have to work 40 hours at a time so I don’t miss any patient details because an important part of my residency involves being socially conditioned to treat the doctor-nurse relationship as a one-way street, and therefore never to ask the on-duty nurses any questions about what THEY have charted/observed, because they have less formal education than me and therefore are obviously only there to carry out orders I give them.”

                1. Green Beans*

                  ….. It’s literally about practicing the process they are being trained on. Yes, they should work with nurses but part of training is also doing things independently with supervision start to finish.

                  An internship is a training program for a doctor, not a blueprint of how things should be the rest of their careers (and of course their training should also include how to work with nurses and other members of the healthcare team.)

          5. jcarnall*

            A close family member told me the issue isn’t so much the long hours for a medical intern – he agreed that a trainee doctor needs to be there to see cases start to finish – it’s the cost-cutting.

            The intern’s going to be there overnight anyway, so load the intern up with all of these other jobs that COULD be done by support staff but then you’d have to pay support staff to work at night which would cost more but the intern’s going to be there anyway for no extra pay so tell the intern to do it. Think having to take blood samples which need to be correctly labelled and dispatched and the samples have to be taken at exact times so one sample has to be taken at one in the morning and another patient needs the sample to be taken at five in the morning. Pay a phlebotomist extra to be there through the night? Or tell the on-call intern to do it, cost rolled into the intern’s salary? Right. Keep doing that and you end up with exhausted interns who don’t even want to be doctors any more because all it’s come to mean to them is years of drudge work.

            Whatever job it is, if an employee has to work 100-hour weeks for two years, they could shorten the work week by hiring more staff, and if they can’t recruit people to work 100-hour weeks any more, that’s what they’re going to have to do. It’s not a question of saving money by paying people less because they’re working shorter hours – it’s just that endlessly losing junior staff before they finish serving their apprenticeship is ultimately going to be much more expensive for the company than a higher wage bill.

            1. green beans*

              Yes! (And as someone with unideal but not impossible veins – I’ll take a phlebotomist over a doctor for a blood draw any idea. Spend the money to employee experts and then let them do what they are experts at. Let my phlebotomist draw my blood and my doctor diagnose and create treatment plans.)

            2. Former_Employee*

              That’s strange. I’ve never had a doctor take blood from me. Come to think of it, the only time even the nurses were involved with needles was when they had to replace IVs. All hospital blood draws were done by people from the lab. They were the best. When my veins weren’t cooperating (the bigger veins had IV’s) they were able to find little tiny ones to use.

          6. SofiaDeo*

            As a health care professional, I disagree. IMO it’s the fact that the caseload/workload has risen, has made these intensive long hour internships/jobs much more physically and mentally demanding than in previous decades. As far as training physicians goes, the idea of the long hours on call were so that one could follow a disease state and its’ changes. The difference is, having 20 patients versus 200. When you could actually sleep in the on call room, being awakened only when there were patient changes, made it doable. I am sure the same thing is true in whatever industry the OP is writing about. Being on call when you have fewer cases is a drag, but not the extreme mental and physical burnout that current workloads entail. Which is how the cap came onto medical residencies; one couldn’t simply cut the number if patients, or hire more residents, there weren’t enough bodies to do the work. In a non life-threatening industry, it seems cutting the case load so there is less that has to be accomplished in that 100 hour week, may be doable. As well as cutting client expectations. I can’t imagine an industry outside of something life affecting (medical or physical emergency) where a client can’t wait until office hours. Just because we have pandered to the wealthy/people in poweer in the past, doesn’t mean it’s sustainable or desirable moving forward.

          7. What's my name again?*

            Not the case!

            Patient outcomes don’t improve in hospitals/ countries etc that have longer working hours.

            Patients treated by a Dr with eg, 4 year’s experience have BETTER outcomes in countries with shorter working hours.

        2. Porcubear*

          One of my nurse friends is in theory working 12 hour shifts but in reality has been working 16-17 hours multiple days a week because of short staffing. Which to be fair is only *partly* the hospital’s fault – they recently laid off the people who refused to get vaccinated, which IMO is for the better. But it was pretty short staffed even before that.

      5. Bluesboy*

        You might have seen the tweet that went round where someone was grumbling about how much easier the younger generation has it, and someone replied “that’s the goal though, right?”

        If only more people thought like that…

      6. CrewellaCoupDeVille*

        You nailed it. The LW’s company is doing things this way because it’s always done them this way. The company’s leaders could change things if they wanted to. Really and truly, with the amount of money investment banks make, they could hire the very best top-notch consultants in the world to come in and re-engineer their business processes, and figure out how to flow work so they wouldn’t have to have people working 100-hour weeks. They have not changed because they don’t see the need to. They are Masters of the Universe and the world should accommodate THEIR needs, not the other way around. Unfortunately for them, slavery is illegal and you can’t force people to work. It’s a free and open labor market and everyone can make the choices that work best for them. If the companies don’t change the way they do things, eventually Middle Manager up there will quit, and then his boss will quit, and then the recruit pipeline will dry up, and then there won’t be anyone to skim the vig off the billions of dollars they handle on a yearly (maybe monthly, who knows) basis. Seems like that would be good motivation to change the system. But I don’t think the company leaders will want to make a change; they’ll just sit around complaining about it until they go out of business. Because as I suffered, others must suffer also. That’s all it is.

    3. NerdyKris*

      Seriously, 14 hour days seven days a week is not sustainable for anyone, no matter how much money you’re paying. It doesn’t matter if you’re giving them ten million dollars a year, they’re basically working every hour that they aren’t sleeping. Of course they’re going to leave after six months of that. It’s absurd.

      1. Turtle*

        Exactly, it seems like the OP thinks that money buys…everything. That it’s more important than rest, Happiness, a social life, family time, being able to sleep in, going to the beach, feeling refreshed on Monday mornings, etc etc etc.

        1. NotJane*

          And an astronomical salary is essentially “worthless”, especially (probably) to a 23 year old, if they never get a chance to spend it and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

          It’s amazing that OP hasn’t picked up on the well publicized and reported on fact that for many, many people, across many different industries, the pandemic has served as an opportunity to reconsider what’s really important in life and reflect on what actually gives their lives value and meaning. And apparently, a hefty paycheck just doesn’t cut it anymore.

          1. Nayo*

            “And an astronomical salary is essentially “worthless”, especially (probably) to a 23 year old, if they never get a chance to spend it and enjoy the fruits of their labor.”

            Exactly!!! To me, a life where I literally just work and sleep is NOT a life worth living. I need time to play video games and work on crafts. Time to spend with friends and family. It is absolutely critical for my mental health that I get to have free time. What the hell is the point of making bank if I can’t SPEND it on anything besides food and rent?! I couldn’t do it, even for two years.

            1. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

              To me, a life where I literally just work and sleep is NOT a life worth living. I need time to play video games and work on crafts. Time to spend with friends and family

              With due respect, the personalities who self-select into investment banking jobs are not those who value playing video games or arts and crafts, or are at least willing to subordinate those hobbies to their career. At the level of new analysts, they’ve already been doing that for eight years, in high school and college.

              1. MyExIsAnInvestmentBanker*

                With due respect, all your comments in this thread are very defensive, Expat.

                Have you ever considered that perhaps you have also been mistreated and taken advantage of in this industry, and that it wasn’t fair on you and that it isn’t fair now?

                There’s also a snobbery dripping off of this response which doesn’t make sense. People who self select into investment banking can be interested in many different types of hobbies if they had any breathing room to pursue them. It’s also worth noting that the behaviours you’re so vehemently defending contribute to and cause ill health (I am coming to you live from the other side of a severe burn-out…)

                It’s fine if you decide that a deal you busted your butt for being on the front page of the financial times is worth giving up on the rest of life, or perhaps you’re one of the few who’s able to thrive when life is stripped of all meaning beyond work, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for OP to ask for ways to force young people into an inhumane and frankly immoral work setup with bizzarely punitive policies.

                I promise you, few people outside of investment banking is impressed by investment bankers, only by your money. I hope that one day you can experience the simple pleasure of indulging in a hobby that’s just yours.

              2. Avril Ludgateau*

                @US expat

                You sure spend a lot of time posting combative comments on an advice column for somebody who denigrates unproductive hobbies.

          2. London Calling*

            I left a job during the pandemic. Decent salary – in fact the best I’d ever earned. Didn’t compensate for all the other issues I had leisure to sit and think about while furloughed.

            1. NotJane*

              “Didn’t compensate for all the other issues I had leisure to sit and think about while furloughed.”

              Exactly. It’s like OP believes that the sole metric when determining the “value” of something is a monetary one. Having issues attracting qualified applicants? Just increase the salary! Problems retaining employees? Threaten them with a hefty financial penalty if they quit before 24 months!

              It’s like there’s no understand that the “value” of a thing is often intangible and unquantifiable, not to mention that what is considered “valuable” is often subjective and can vary widely from person to person.

              (In all fairness to OP, though, I wrote my comment prior to reading their responses/replies in other threads, so I don’t think the post is so much a reflection of their personal beliefs/POV as it is a reflection of their industry/environment as a whole.)

          3. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

            The salary and bonus is a huge reason people go to work in investment banking, of course, but there are others: the chance to see the deals you worked on appear on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, excellent training, exit opportunities down the road, and an entree into top MBA programs. Relatively few people see themselves as staying on the sell side forever; they do it because they’re picking up skills that make them competitive for (somewhat) more relaxed jobs on the buy side.

            There are many, many more applicants for investment banking analyst jobs than there are positions available. Even with attrition, the applicants clearly don’t see the value proposition as “worthless.” Moreover, the leavers are likely getting offers that would have been closed to them absent the two-year stint at Goldman or wherever.

            I’d also strenuously disagree that they don’t know what they’re getting into. Recent college grads have lots of friends back on campus; word gets around at elite colleges as to what banking culture is like.

        2. The Dogman*

          Most speculation is on investment banking, which would explain the greed and selfishness oozing out of LW’s post.

          It would also explain the undertone of “must punish them the way I was punished to get to my lofty perch!”.

          That entire sector of banking should be closed.

        3. A*

          Which is an especially bold claim given that they don’t sound all that content with their circumstances. The letter was giving me ‘misery loves company / boot straps’ vibes throughout, and typically that only comes up when people have resentment. Happy people that are content with their choices and resulting circumstances, don’t typically see the ‘benefit’ in having others suffer.

      2. DJ Abbott*

        Also OP, if you’re like me and some of my friends, working long hours and shorting sleep will catch up to you around age 50 and you won’t be able to do it anymore. It would be a good idea for you to make changes and have a more balanced lifestyle in place before you hit your mid 50s.
        With us it wasn’t working a job, it’s our hobby, but the fact remains you can’t short sleep forever.

        1. Your local password resetter*

          I can’t imagine that schedule is helpful for their family life either.
          It wasn’t the focus of the letter, but if I saw senior workers still had to pull 100 hour weeks and sacrifice many of their weekends then I wouldnt think starting a family or a relationship was a good idea in this company.

          At that point you have maybe one or two hours you’re not working or sleeping every day. I dont think you can raise children, maintain a relationship, and give yourself time to recover during that time.

        2. mark132*

          I’m over 50 and I would have struggled with this in my 20’s, and I could not maybe do it for 1-2 weeks now, before I would be in so much pain I wouldn’t care any longer.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            I don’t think I ever could have worked 100 or even 80 hours a week. I was sick a lot before I learned to manage my allergies.
            I was in the habit of getting 6 to 7 hours of sleep for about 25-30 years, partly because I didn’t know any better and partly because allergies made me tired anyway so I didn’t know the difference. I got involved in social things that happened on both weeknights and weekends and they were my favorite things to do, so I prioritized them over sleep.
            As I mentioned, that caught up with me in my early 50s and I was sick on and off for two years. I didn’t fully break the habit until I was unemployed during the pandemic, when I saw what a difference it makes to get eight hours sleep. Now I prioritize that!

        3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I did it along with a really long commute in my early 30s. I’m not saying it caused my epilepsy but I’d never had seizures till that job.

        4. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

          Also OP, if you’re like me and some of my friends, working long hours and shorting sleep will catch up to you around age 50 and you won’t be able to do it anymore. It would be a good idea for you to make changes and have a more balanced lifestyle in place before you hit your mid 50s.

          OP is an adult and is capable of deciding for himself what tradeoffs he’s willing to accept. There are those of us, and I count myself among them, for whom a “balanced” lifestyle is insufferably boring. I respect that your mileage may vary, but you should also respect that the same is true of us.

      3. Alex*

        I think many are putting themselves through this because by doing it, they can earn 100k$ in half a year of torture…and then use that financial cushion to find a job that still pays reasonable with sane working hours.

        1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

          If I’m reading OP’s note about compensation correctly, they’re actually not. I think most of the money is in year-end or end-of-the-two-year-cycle bonuses, and the ones who quit after 6 months have probably only been earning a token liveable salary.

        2. shedubba*

          I knew people in college that went into investment banking, and this was their plan from the start: work soul-crushing hours for as long as they could stand, put away a nice nest egg, and then get the heck out of Dodge and find a job with reasonable hours.

      4. DoggoMom*

        This is what I was thinking. And the idea of paying back a large portion of your salary if you can’t manage working 14 hours a day, everyday, for 2 years?? It is soul crushing to even think about it.

        1. TrainerGirl*

          Yeah, that won’t make people stay. It will make them avoid you outright and never even apply. I don’t understand why people always leap to the punitive outcome rather than find a new way.

    4. Foreign Octopus*

      I immediately thought of shift work. Why is it even necessary to have people working 100-hour weeks when you can just do shift work?

      1. Amaranth*

        I was thinking teams so that they could be familiar with the same projects/clients but each have their own primary focus. I guess if some are right that its banking, then time zones are an issue? But then that could be handled with shift work.

    5. Still trying to adult*

      Wow. Here’s a thought: a

      Don’t burn them out!!

      I predict that if you treat these employees better by working them more humane hours and treating them with dignity, your retention rate will go up!!

      To quote an old line I got from the Quality Industry: Management ALWAYS gets what it wants. Even if it doesn’t like what it gets, it always gets what it wants. So, obviously, your company is getting people that come in for whatever reasons (the high salary being one) and then when they get exhausted of the rat race, they leave. Management, and management alone are the ones who can change that dynamic.

    6. Varthema*

      LW seems like a decent person and I don’t want to pile on (even more), but I think it bears mentioning – if you put a financial penalty on quitting early, suicides will happen. Young people high on life, thinking they can handle it, then finding out they can’t, too terrified to face a financial penalty, too ashamed to ask for help in paying it, sleep deprived and stressed – yeah. It’s not an if, it’s a when.

      If 100-hour weeks aren’t negotiable, then high churn is just the cost of keeping that workweek. If I were you, I’d consider churning too.

    7. Adam Hayman*

      As someone that’s spent his life in poverty, and only now in my mid 40s finally clawing my way to the bottom of middle class, but still nowhere near ever hoping to own my own home….

      Is this person hiring? 2-3 full time crap paying jobs at a time are what I did my whole life. If he’ll train, I’ll work this. When you are super poor, you don’t have the ability to really enjoy time off either. If I didn’t have to worry about my bare essentials being met? Absolutely I’d do this. 2 years of it would not be fun, but that kind of money would literally be a world changing amount for my family.

  1. e271828*

    100-hour weeks, in the office every weekend, two year program

    Well, there’s your problem right there.

      1. Zona the Great*

        And with those hours and that salary, the money goes to your family so they enjoy life without you and can afford your early funeral when you ultimately die at age 40 of a heart attack.

        1. hamsterpants*

          Yeah that combination of hours and lifestyle, plus being on the younger side and less experienced with relationships, seems like an amazing recipe to be used by someone who only wants you for your money.

          1. Mangofan*

            I would guess investment banking… Big 4 accounting isn’t paying those kinds of salaries for entry level employees.

        2. Your local password resetter*

          Yeah, this is a “get the money and bail” job. Not something you want to stay in for the long term.

          1. The Dogman*

            Yeah I reckon 6-9 month is going ot be about enough to buy a house in a normal state, so people are bouncing once they have the capital to set up a life somewhere.

            I am not going to lose sleep over LW’s worries, seems to be investment banking and that whole sector is immoral.

          2. Avril Ludgateau*

            The OP seems bitter that people are doing exactly that – taking the money and running – but doing it ahead of schedule. It’s literally a system designed for short tenure, as a stepping stone; it is known to be unsustainable. It seems the younger generation is merely stepping off sooner. Frankly? Good for them. At the risk of being glib, there are always opportunities to make money. There are never opportunities to make time.

          1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

            Ya problem is ya work em to death…Throwing money at ya problem won’t always solve it. Just cuz you put up with the sucky hours doesnt folks will go for that any more.

            1. SpaceySteph*

              “Throwing money at ya problem won’t always solve it.”

              In my early career I had a role which was 24/7 coverage and mainly hired entry-level workers who were usually young, unmarried, no kids, etc expecting to work the crap out of them before they burnt out. As salaried/exempt we weren’t paid extra for crappy shifts directly, but they had a point system. Collect enough points (with crappier shifts worth more points– i.e. nights more than days, weekends/holidays more than weekedays, etc) and you’d get a bonus relative to how many points you collected.

              There was a range where the money was good, and worth it to pick up some nights/weekends to get the extra pay. But above a certain level (which likely varied by the person), the hit to your work/life balance was so pronounced that the pay didn’t feel like enough. This seems like the same situation. Making $200k can get you to put up with a lot, but not everything. And continuously working 100 hour weeks, no weekends off for 2 years is WAY above what I’d do for $200k.

              1. DJ Abbott*

                Companies that require weekend work and want to keep their employees have a system where they rotate the weekends so no one has to work every weekend. So each employee might might work one or two weekends a month, but not all of them.

                1. Aaron*

                  There might be opportunities for trading too. If your friend group does fast food midweek may be better but you might want flexibility on which day it is.

            2. Esmeralda*

              OP points out that this is typical for the industry, however, and that the new hires are made abundantly aware of this expectation. No need to be mean to the OP.

              Alison’s point that the new hires may think they can do it, then realize they can’t or won’t after trying it for 6 – 9 months, is on-point. And that it will likely have to change to solve the OP’s problem.

              OP may not be able to solve it, however — may not have the power to increase the number of hires (at fewer hours and lower pay each).

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Then it sounds like OP is outta luck on this one. There is no fix.
                I’m not trying to be mean, sometimes reality is harsh and problems just cannot be fixed.

                Perhaps OP might start a job search.

                1. allathian*

                  Yeah, I agree that the LW is unlikely to be able to change things. But if they at least are willing to internalize that this way of working is no longer sustainable because people are simply unwilling to do it, at least they should realize that there’s nothing they can do to change it. If the industry collapses because it can no longer find employees willing to work that much, then it collapses.

              2. CalypsoSummer*

                “You’re working them too hard.” “But this is normal for our industry.”
                “So change. Hire more people and spread the lavish pay a little more thinly.” “But this is normal for our industry.”
                “It’s not working for you any more.” “But this is normal for our industry.”
                Comes a time when “But this is normal for our industry” just becomes a meaningless noise.

              3. Speaks to Dragonflies*

                I wasnt trying to be mean, just emphasizing the point that 100 hours a week is literally going to work some folks to death. You can dangle the biggest carrot in the world, but if the horse is dead, it isnt going to have any interest in the carrot anymore. And when you figure per hour dollars, that carrot isnt very big.
                Now, if we can get more horses, and swap them out every so often and divide up that one big ol carrot and among all the horses, then more work can be done, its easier on the horses, and the carrot is big enough to go around.
                Op, I apologize for my comment sounding mean. I ment it more as an exclamation. I dont know if you’re in a position to change the situation, but I think your answer is what I and others are saying.

              4. Observer*

                OP points out that this is typical for the industry, however, and that the new hires are made abundantly aware of this expectation

                It doesn’t make it a sane expectation. But because it’s supposed to be normal some young folks without a lot of experience think that “Sure I’m tough, I can do that”. And then they discover that this just doesn’t work.

                The problem here is not just that it’s happening, but that the OP thinks it’s fine because it’s “always been this way”. Which actually id not true. And that the best way to “fix” the problem is to not fix it, but to penalize very harshly anyone who realizes that they are not going to make it.

              5. MCMonkeyBean*

                I don’t think they are being mean, it’s just the truth. The fact that it’s typical for the industry doesn’t mean it’s reasonable, and presumably other companies in the industry are struggling with the same problem as OP.

                As someone who had a very rough busy season last year and was approaching 100 hours per week for a couple of months–and had several breakdowns during just that period as a result–working those hours for 2 years is NOT reasonable or sustainable and will really fuck a person up and no amount of money is worth it. I wouldn’t work those hours for 2 years for a million dollars! More money will not solve their problem. Trying to claw money back won’t solve the problem. They need to find a way to make the hours better or accept that the staff is highly likely to reach a breaking point no matter what they try to threaten financially.

          2. Nesprin*

            Yep, there’s your problem- your workers are essentially making ~33$ an hour to have only 60 hours off.

            1. Kevin Sours*

              Under California labor laws the base rate of pay for an hourly worker would be approximately $27.50 for the $200k upper end.

          3. Cj*

            $175,000/yr at 100/wk is $28.89/hr if it was an hourly job with time and a half overtime. That is certainly *not* well paid.

            1. Sloanico*

              Ha! I remember dating a big time firm lawyer when I was at a small time nonprofit. We realized I actually made a *better* rate than him, hourly. And I had quality of life!

            2. Your local password resetter*

              Its about 75K per year for a normal 40 hour workweek. Which isnt a bad salary at all, but not “sacrifice your health and life” money. Especially in a high COL area.

              1. Cj*

                I make $62,000/yr working 1960 hours/year. 50 hours/week for 4 months and 32 hours/week the rest of the year. In a relatively low cost of living area.

                I’ll take my job/pay over OP’s junior workers any day.

              1. A*

                In regards to hourly rate, or total annual? Cause if you’re making over $175k/year dog walking, I’m in the WRONG industry and want in on that ASAP lol.

                1. The Dogman*

                  Oh yeah, hourly of course! ;)

                  Although a good friend went to Knightsbridge and Chelsea (some of the wealthiest places in London) and did dog walking and sitting there. He bought a house outright in the Cotswolds (very nice place to live, very pricey too!) a few years back after charging £500-$1000 per night to the kids of the ruling class/kleptocrat class.

                  If you take 3 dogs at £500 per night…

                  £1500 per day x 365 = £52500 per year.

                  And on top of that he was charging £100 per hour for walks during the day and taking 10 Chihuahuas at once etc…

                  It can add up.

                  But you have to work for some of the worst humans on Earth and be able to keep your mouth shut about how awful they are to everyone and everything.

                  That is where I would have some trouble.

            3. Rayray*

              You bring up an excellent point, these people could likely find something paying the equivalent hourly rate and not have to put their health and well-being on the line. They could work a normal schedule and actually be able to LIVE, not slave away 14 hours a day 7 days a week.

          4. KDT*

            For reference, there are thousands of college graduates getting in that range working for any of the major tech companies or well funded startups. They aren’t putting in those types of hours.

            $175K is nothing once you consider that you’re putting in 100 hours a week. I wouldn’t have even thought about accepting that type of job when I graduated years ago over one that made less than half as much.

            1. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

              [People at] major tech companies or well funded startups…aren’t putting in those types of hours.

              They’re coming close, though. The people here complaining that they’d rather spend time on hobbies or family or whatever would not find startups significantly better than investment banking.

          5. Remedial Chaos Theory*

            There is no amount of pay that would make me want to work 100 hour weeks. None. And I love my job.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I can’t do it. Younger me topped out at 75-80. That was it. If I had kept doing that, I would not be here now.

              1. Tiny Soprano*

                Hell if I work more than 45 my health suffers and I fall in a heap. Much less if it’s stressful.

              2. alienor*

                Even when I was young and (more) energetic, I couldn’t do more than a 60-hour week without wanting to die. I’ve also found that 10 hours in one day is my limit–anything I produce after the 10-hour mark will be basically worthless.

                1. Remedial Chaos Theory*

                  Yeah, agreed. I don’t do good work after 10 hours; it’s just not going to happen.

                2. Splendid Colors*

                  A friend of mine is a mechanical engineer, and her company periodically goes through crunch time where management mandates a 60-hour workweek. She goes along with it for a while, but notices that she isn’t actually *productive* after that 8th hour, even after trying to push a bit harder for a week or so in case it’s just a habit of “done my 8 hours, time to go home.” Lots of making mistakes and then fixing them because engineering is hard if you’re doing it conscientiously. I imagine anything financial also requires a lot of analytical thinking.

                  So far, she’s managed to explain this to her manager and not be forced to sit at her desk an extra two hours to pretend she’s doing something instead of cooking a healthy dinner and getting enough sleep after relaxing at home.

              3. Remedial Chaos Theory*

                I did a grand total of one 100ish hour week in my life, when I was in my 20s and working multiple jobs. By the end of it I was beyond a zombie, and the only reason I managed to get to each job was because I carpooled. At this point, in my 40s, my body simply would not allow it.

                1. bunnymcfoo*

                  There was a six month period of time in my life in my mid twenties when I was putting in around 70 hours a week between my office job and my second job waiting tables. I was pulling in money like crazy and making a significant dent in my student loans, but I realized I had to stop when I dozed off on the drive home one night after yet another 15 hour work day (plus commute time.) I’m extremely lucky that the rumble strip jolted me awake, because I genuinely don’t think I would be here otherwise.

                  I’m in my 40s now and the idea of working more than 40 hours a week kind of makes me want to cry and hide under the bed.

              1. Jean (just Jean)*

                Literally…. ! Better purchase the cemetery plot and lock down the prepaid funeral plan before you start this high-pay/high-work job. Gives new meaning to the phrase “work oneself to death.” No, thank you.

            2. Your local password resetter*

              I might, if I could retire after 3 months. And I absolutely leave after that, in one way or another.

            3. allathian*

              Yeah, absolutely agree. My standard workweek is 36 hours 15 minutes. I can work, and have worked, 50-hour weeks for a huge project, but when the project ended, I took 3 weeks off just on banked comp time. Believe me, I needed the rest! We’re a bit different, I’m basically salaried in that I have lots of flexibility in choosing when (and where) I work, but hours are still tracked to ensure that nobody is working too much, or slacking off. Those who put in huge amounts of working hours are a much bigger problem than the slackers, though. It also gives management clear signals when more resources are needed for a particular function.

          6. Mel*

            Even if it’s $200,000 the first year, they’re not “well compensated” (especially for a prestigious job). At 100 hours a week that’s less than $40 an hour.

          7. Gru*

            You pay employees 34-38 dollars an hour (which is what the math works out to) to spend their entire lives at work and you’re surprised people are leaving after 6 months?! *Maybe* you could retain people for longer if you paid them more per hour, but I wouldn’t count on it.

            OP, you need a reality check. Your workplace is not okay or normal, and there should be laws against this kind of nonsense. The fact that you’re justifying this kind of abuse (and it *is*) abuse is awful.

        1. BeenThere*

          So they are paying what an entry level software engineer can get in the Bay Area in total comp. Zero shock that these junior staff are going to start ups.

          1. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

            But if these people stick with banking, they’ll earn considerably more than $200K as they progress to associate, vice president, and managing director. The software engineer, much less so. Even if they leave banking for the buy side, they’ll have considerable salary gains that the software engineer will not (and if they get lucky their wealth might even eclipse that of those who stay on the sell side).

            It’s the Wall Street lawyers who have a very bad value proposition.

      2. Lady Meyneth*

        Absolutely. I’ve worked one 100 hours week in my work life. One. And it was an emergency, as in a real people-could-die-if-this-doesn’t-get-done emergency. By the end of day 4, I was crying with exhaustion and seriously considering just saying F it and quitting. And I got a bonus plus the next full (paid) week off to recharge.

        People were not made to work 16 hours day in stressful situations, and recently employees began to value their own boundaries and health more than a company. OP’s employer needs to acknowledge that and consider doing things differently from now on.

        1. Siege*

          I did it twice. Once was one week – it was horrible, but it got done and my boss was supportive. The other time it last a couple of months and I was working all the time. I was working from home so I could work more! (I did not have internet at the time.)

          I had a psychotic break the second time. Categorically, I was not in touch with reality. I remember being stunned to see people looking like things were just … normal, because my reality at the time was entirely apocalyptic. Never, ever again. Never. Under no circumstances.

          1. Academic Physician*

            Back when I was a medical resident, I used to routinely hallucinate at about hour 26 of my long shifts in the intensive care unit.

            1. Academic Physician*

              the hallucinations were pretty, at least — I don’t usually get scary ones, so there’s that, I guess

              1. Calamity Janine*

                i would like to second that emotion

                and although it’s a bit off topic, i would like to express that as a patient, i would really rather have a doctor who wasn’t hallucinating from lack of sleep over a doctor with absolute continuity of care. all the continuity of care in the world means bupkis when it’s sliding clean off a brain that is coated with the teflon of sleep deprivation and distracted by the dancing pink elephants of no sleep.

            2. allathian*

              This is horrible, and the reason why few things scare me more than the idea of a hospital stay. I think it’s inconceivable that the health services think this is acceptable or okay.

          2. Speaks to Dragonflies*

            I did 95 hours in a week once. I was on call and we had nextel push to talk phones. Somewhere on night 3 or day 4 (they all run together) I started to shudder everytime I heard that nextel chirp. The commercials were in heavy rotation on the radio, and every.damn.time I heard that noise… We dont use them anymore and I havent heard it in awhile, but just thinking about it causes a bit of dread to rise.

    1. Pony Puff*

      Really quite obvious. Humans aren’t capable of sustaining that type of lifestyle and raising the pay is no good since they have no waking hours to enjoy their salary…come on now.

      1. Claire*

        I realize that OP lives in a very different world but… this is madness. For some if not many people, working high-stress, 100-hour weeks for two years will have permanent ramifications on their health. You are literally destroying people’s health! And all for… what? To make rich people richer? Sorry, but the whole setup is deeply amoral to me. I agree that there are things to address here, but OP, they’re not what you think.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Hard agree.
          No job is worth dying for and this company is asking people to forego life itself.

        2. Parakeet*

          Yep. I’ve had a few short periods of working 80-hour weeks, but that was very temporary and was also doing work that I cared about and that was socially beneficial. The idea of people burning their lives so that they can benefit the owners of capital…it’s grotesque. It’s their lives, I suppose, but I’m delighted that the younger people are leaving so quickly. I hope more of them leave, more quickly. If the whole industry folds, good.

        3. Splendid Colors*

          Yeah. It’s not like they’re spending 100-hours a week for a month or so saving lives in a natural disaster area or something. And then those first responders would get some time off to decompress and recuperate!

      2. LQ*

        People say that humans aren’t capable of it, but I think that’s missing the mark here. Especially if this is how it was in the past. It doesn’t help and in fact just makes it harder to get people to change when you throw up your hands and say come on now rather than clearly saying, “people can, but they aren’t interested.” The money you’re offering isn’t enough to make people interested in doing this at this point in time. Find another way to accomplish this goal.

        1. RVA Cat*

          This. I have a feeling that many of the people who “did it” in the past drugged themselves with everything from Adderall to cocaine. I also want to know how many of them dropped dead at a young age.

          1. Alex*

            Yeah. I’m familiar with the OP’s industry (I live in Manhattan, it fits a certain profile) and the number of people making it work with cocaine in the past was very high. It’s aderall and other substances now but the fact remains that it’s not great for people or community in many many ways.

            1. Justin*

              All my college classmates did this. My alumni magazine celebrates them and my dad wanted me to do it. He wouldn’t have a son if I had. (That’s not a self-harm joke, I’d’ve truly suffered and burned out.)

          2. Dust Bunny*

            I’m picturing my grandfather, who had a housewife to handle absolutely everything else and barely knew his children. And he worked a lot but not a hundred hours a week.

            1. Tiny Soprano*

              My dad often does 80 at the moment, but again, he has my mother and my godparents running around making sure he gets fed and his clothes are clean. He’s under strict instructions that he is retiring (for real this time) at the end of the year, because they’re not keen on being his chefs/housemaids/secretaries forever.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            I know of docs who drugged themselves to get through medical school.
            Ironic that an arena focused on health avoids sleep and wholesome meals in favor of work.

        2. Maya*

          Like so many formulas, the salary-to-workload ratio is not infinitely scalable. This is the compensation equivalent of “If the recipe says bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees, then 1 minute at 5,250 degrees will work just as well!” Just because people will work 40 hours a week for $X, doesn’t mean they’ll work 100 hours for $2.5X, or $5X, or even $20x.

        3. Observer*

          “people can, but they aren’t interested.”

          Except that this is actually not true. The reason that more people are quitting is because more people are refusing to literally kill themselves, or leave themselves with long term damage.

          I mean in some cases it’s possible that they technically CAN do it, if you mean that they CAN by destroying their health or totally torching relationships etc.

      3. EPLawyer*

        “aising the pay is no good since they have no waking hours to enjoy their salary…” Right there. Money is only good if you can use it. If they are working so many hours, especially weekends, who cares what the salry is, they never get to enjoy what having that kind of money can bring.

        As I was reading, I was thinking “hire more people so the hours can be spread out.” And guess what Alison suggested?

        OP just because you did it and you think its the way it is, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. You can either keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results OR you can change the way you do things. That does NOT mean penalizing the people who decide to prioritize their health over staying in the industry no matter how well paid.

    2. Merci Dee*

      If I were fresh out of school, I would happily take half of that pay if I only had to work half of those hours.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        If I were fresh out of school, I would happily take half of that pay if I only had to work half of those hours.

        I have friends in careers who would be happy with their career peak being half those hours for half that compensation.

          1. Yep*

            And the pay being well over 25% higher than first-job-out-of-school pay; I assume that would be quite interesting to some.

          2. Confused*

            I mean, if I could work from home so I don’t commute, well, commuting is a little over an hour each way at minimum for me. A 10 hour workday and no commute would be equal to an 8 hour workday and a commute in terms of time spent engaged. For half of a $275K salary straight out of grad school? Yea, I’d probably want it.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Yeah there’s no amount of pay that makes me want to work 100-hour weeks, that’s insane. Pay two people 100K to work a 50-hour week and you might get somewhere.

        1. Anonny*

          Yeah, I did a bit of maths on that, and it’s… 9 hours personal time per day. Including time when you’d be sleeping. Your entire life would be work, bathe, sleep, commute.

      3. Clisby*

        Yeah, there are probably tons of good applicants who’d sign on for 50-hour weeks and $88K-$100K. And this isn’t a matter of oh, young people these days aren’t willing to work hard. I’m 68, and wondering who the hell was ever willing to sign on for something this insane.

        1. Anon for this*

          Yeah, I’ve newly found a willingness to work longer hours for more pay… because I know I’m not going to be doing it for long… and even now, I’m getting myself through this by working from home and essentially taking a “hug my cat for five minutes” break every few hours. I’m getting through it with fuzzy cuddles, and I’m not anywhere near 100 hours a week. I can’t imagine what this would be like with more hours and no fuzzy cuddles.

        2. Your local password resetter*

          From what I can tell: The desparate, the drugged, and the people who drank all the kool-aid.

          1. Hamsterjam*

            “The desparate, the drugged, and the people who drank all the kool-aid” could start an entirely new film genre, like a modern spagetti western

      4. Quickbeam*

        Yes! That’s a crazy amount of hours, screw the pay. I had a consultant job with a start up that was 70-80 hours a week; After the first year I told them I was dialing it down to 50 hours a week. No one can sustain that and be healthy at the same time.

      5. Turtles All The Way Down*

        Heck, I’m almost 40 and still don’t make half that much. I’d gladly make $100k-$150k and work 50-60 hours a week. I’d even be available/on-call some weekends!

        I can’t even fathom working 100 hours a week, even from home where I can faceplant into my bed at midnight, never mind commuting.

        1. Kat*

          I did 120 hour weeks last year. I had 2 full time jobs plus massive OT. I only slept 4 hours a night. I was so tired. I do not recommend doing it. I didn’t have the privilege of making bank though. With both jobs I didn’t even hit 50k.

      6. Elenna*


        As a 25-year-old, if you paid me 100k/year for a 50-hour work week, I would seriously consider it.

        For a 100-hour work week, you’d have to pay me millions. Like, literally, I’d *maybe* take it if I could retire and be rich afterwards, so probably 40+ million a year. Doubling the hours requires a lot more than doubling the pay.

        1. PT*

          A 50-hour week, if you’re compensated well enough such that you can live near work and have a short commute, is entirely doable. Because most people who work a 40 hour week with a 1 hour commute each day are already doing that when you count their commute in. There’s a handful of people who have nice commutes- the people who always get a seat on the train and can read, or the people lucky enough to commute along a scenic bike path instead of having to ride on busy streets- but most people’s commute is to a certain extent just as stressful and hard work as work. If you can reallocate that time to career work, you’d be spending the same amount of time in “work mode” but you’d be getting more out of it career wise.

        2. Anon for this*

          This. I’d *need* to take at least a year off just to decompress after that much of a hit to my mental and physical health. Then that opens up “why did you have such a long gap on your resume, are your skills rusty” questions which would make it hard to get back into the workforce. That would be career ending for most people, and people at the beginning of their career are expected to do this?

        3. Recruited Recruiter*

          At 20, I was working a 70 hour per week job for $30k. Now, I work a 43 hour per week job for 41k. I would gladly go up to 50 if it meant a big raise, but I wouldn’t go any past 55.

        4. londonedit*

          Absolutely. I ‘only’ earn £30k a year but I also only have to work 37.5 hours a week and I’m totally not expected to do anything work-related outside of that. I’ve never been the sort of person who could or would sign up for a job that required insane working hours (and by insane I mean anything over 40 hours a week!) I’d much rather have less money and more time to actually live my life.

    3. HerdingCatsWouldBeEasier*

      This means 14+ hour work days if you work every day or nearly 17 hour work days if you try and have a work free day every week. These numbers only seem vaguely possible if you have a full time stay at home spouse to deal with life for you. If you assume the junior staff only get 6 hours of sleep a night, that means they get less than 4 hours a day to shower, eat, commute, and live.

      The question shouldn’t be: how can we get junior staff to agree to this? It should be: why would we have thought anyone would EVER put up with this, and how can we reimagine our work so that no one has to?

      1. Olive Hornby*

        People with this sort of job are getting most of their meals delivered and living within walking distance of the office and/or taking cabs home. They’re outsourcing all of this stuff–which aside from being dystopian also means that $200k doesn’t go as far as one might think that it might, because you’re living in midtown Manhattan or the financial district.

        1. Vaca*

          OP here – true but worth noting that cabs and meals after 8pm are paid for (they’re extra on top of the salary + bonus.)

          1. Worldwalker*

            If you stick another zero on the end of that salary I *might* consider doing it for two years. For anything less? Not a chance. A week consists of 168 hours. If you spend 100 of those at work and another 56 asleep, you have 12 hours left over for the entire remainder of your life.

            Plenty of people will work 50 hours for $100k a year. Hire twice as many people for half the hours each. The odds are you’ll have a lot less turnover.

            1. Just Another Zebra*

              This exactly. There’s no such thing as a work/life balance with these kinds of hours. There’s working, then the necessary biological functions of humanity. OP, please consider the many suggestions of 2 junior staff members working 50hrs for $100k. I promise, those people are out there.

            2. Anon for this*

              I’m currently working 60 hour weeks for 50k, I would kill for 50 hour weeks for 100k. Maybe not literally. Possibly.

              1. AJoftheInternet*

                I always like to quantify what I would be willing to kill for X hypothetical scenario. “I would kill mice for that.” “I would be willing to kill a bear to get that.” etc.

            3. Your local password resetter*

              I also can’t imagine they’re very productive mentally speaking. After 8-10 hours people are generally spent. Much fewer if they’re chronically exhausted for some mysterious reason.

          2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Is there a good reason not to double the number of folks in the training cohort at 1/2 the salary (still pretty good for straight out of school) and have people do 50 hour weeks? Or is it more that this is how it has always been? If there is a solid business reason why 1 person working 100 hrs is better than 2 people working 50 each, it might be easier to come up with something workable. If there is no business reason, well, then that is your answer

            1. Sloanico*

              To be fair, I’d assume two salaries is more than one salary cut in half, when you add all the backend stuff (insurance, payroll tax, admin, whatever – plus more if it bumps you up over some regulatory standard that now applies because you have more than 50 people or a new business nexus or whatever). But I’m assuming this is an industry that could do it if they chose.

            2. STAT!*

              I know you were only posing the questions rhetorically, but I would be amazed if there was a solid business reason for the 100 hour weeks. Right now the juniors probably produce 50 hours of good work per week at best, and 50 hours of utter zombified delirious deleterious rubbish.

              1. Brave Little Roaster*

                Exactly, there’s no way anyone working 100(!!) hours/week is producing twice as much work of good quality as you’d get from two people each working 50 hours.

            1. Alex*

              Yeah. I don’t work in finance but I am in “the greedy professions” (ie law, consulting, finance) and we get that perk too —it’s more a tool to keep late nights normal. I love my job, but that’s never been a draw.

              1. Momma Bear*

                Right. It sets the expectation that you’ll be working after 8PM, not that it’s a real bonus.

                On a kind of practical note, you can’t outsource your own healthcare so when do these people see a doctor if they need to?

                1. SpaceySteph*

                  Also like what about meals before 8pm. Those kind of hours you don’t have time to grocery shop/cook/meal prep/eat at home, so you’re eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the office/in transit almost every day. But only paying for it if its after 8pm?

                  I am in an external oversight role for a place that works their people to the bone (although not even this bad) and has a delicious onsite cafeteria for 3 meals a day for very cheap. Its a perk for me when I visit to go to their cafeteria, but several of them told me they just miss healthy and homecooked food. The cafeteria has good food and good variety, but not enough to eat it three meals a day every day all week even weekends.

                2. TheCatLady*

                  And how do these people manage to achieve a relatively professional appearance? How do they have time to shower, shave, put on make up and professional clothing, do their hair with product or blow drying? Do laundry or pick up dry cleaning?How do they manage to shop for professional clothing and shoes? God forbid any of them ever need to get a haircut, color, nails done. If I was working 14 hour days seven days a week my only option would be to show up rumpled and in last night’s clothes every day. I’m sure this firm has high standards for professional grooming.

                3. Texan In Exile*

                  @The Cat Lady – I’m reading a novel right now about a first-year associate at some fancy law firm – and the firm has a pickup and delivery service for laundry and there are showers a few floors down at the gym. The firm also has crash rooms for people to sleep.

                  I would not want the life.

                4. londonedit*

                  Years ago I worked with someone who was a lawyer in the City – his company used to pay for taxis to take people home at 4 or 5am, wait around while they had a shower and changed clothes, and bring them back to the office.

          3. BabyElephantWalk*

            If you’d rather be spending the time with your family/on your own hobbies, it’s not really a benefit that the cabs and meals are paid for. My husband used to work a career with lots of evenings/weekends with paid perks.

            He left for a much lower paying career that gave him decent hours – because the paid perks, while boss saw them as a selling feature, were not of value to him.

          4. Me*

            So the fact that you think it’s worth noting really underscores how warped your view is. it’s really not worth noting. it’s essentially more pay in a different form. the problem is the awful hours, treatment and lack of anything resembling a life.

            but sure, thanks for the 10 dollar dinner.

          5. highbury house*

            If you think the junior staff don’t become useful until 2 years in, contemplate how they might improve more quickly if they could get a good night’s sleep and a weekend to recharge.

            1. HerdingCatsWouldBeEasier*

              Not useful until 2 years in, but so essential they have to work every possible minute for two years.

              It’s always fascinating when someone holds two incompatible positions as self evident truths and doesn’t seem the contradictions.

          6. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, please don’t let people drive, they are no longer in any condition to be behind a wheel.

            A friend whose job entailed driving worked for 24 hour straight. Friend became scared of hurting themselves or someone else, so the friend’s spouse drove for the next 24 hours of work. Yeah, the spouse was not on payroll.

          7. Utterly Appalled at this!*

            All I can say is I am utterly appalled and hope you NEVER find anyone desperate enough to work your form of slavery. For what you are asking of people the salary is not the point at all. You are running a modern day slavery farm.

            1. AJoftheInternet*

              Um, let’s not cheapen the horrors of slavery (involuntary work with minimal/no pay) by saying that this (voluntary work with obscenely high pay) is similar. People can (and do) walk away from this, or decide that it’s worth it to them. People in indenture/slavery situations don’t have that option.

              1. allathian*

                Fair point. But at those hours it still works out to less than $40 per hour, so hardly an exceptionally high salary, certainly not obscenely high.

              2. MCMonkeyBean*

                I agree, but I do think there should be a little more focus on the fact that OP seems to be looking for a way to make it financially impossible or at least financially extremely difficult for people to walk away and that is certainly a troubling way to be trying to solve this problem.

      2. JohannaCabal*

        You would pretty much be living at the office at that point. There are companies that (pre-pandemic but I’m sure it still happens) that subsidize dinners for staff who stay late.

        For the first three months of my post-college job, I had barely two hours between dinner and falling asleep due to my commuting schedule. When I moved closer to my job and had a ten minute drive to work my life improved so much.

        1. HerdingCatsWouldBeEasier*

          Honestly, I’m getting flashbacks to my (thankfully only 2 years) of graduate school in the 1990s. I was accepted into a Biochemistry doctorate program and planning on going into medical research, and was prepared to work long hours and weekends to make it happen. The only thing I asked for was to be able to leave at 5 pm one day a month to participate in a club for a hobby I dearly loved. Instead, I was told how unreasonable it was to make this request. I jumped out with a terminal master’s and switched industries entirely a few years later. My only regret now is that I didn’t walk out right then and there.

          Jobs that fail to allow people to have time to live deserve to go the way of the dinosaurs.

          1. Jay*

            My husband was in a STEM PhD program in the 1980s when I was in medical school and residency. I had one day off a month when I was an intern, usually a Sunday, and if he took that entire day off to spend with me he got untold crap from his adviser and members of his committee. ONE DAY A MONTH. We were the only couple I knew where the non-medical spouse had worse hours and a more abusive environment than the medical spouse.

            As a resident before work-hour rules went into effect, I generally worked at most 80 hours a week, and that wasn’t every week (this was also an unusually humane residency program). I did a one-month rotation at an outside institution that came close to 100 hours a week. It was horrible. I wasn’t safe to drive home post-call so my husband would pick me up and I would be asleep before we left the parking lot – and then have to come back less than 12 hours later. Never again.

            1. Airkewl Pwaroe*

              Did a biomedical research PhD through the 2000s and it’s only improved a little. Towards the end of this time, I heard that the NIH was trying to figure out why so many MD-PhDs were going on to be physicians only rather than becoming the physician scientists (or even just the scientists!) they’d originally trained to be. I don’t know if they ever figured out the very obvious answer.

        2. Porcubear*

          Then there’s my job that, while it pays on the low end of the scale for the work I’m doing, limits us to a MAXIMUM of 60 hours a week and six days in a row, and frequently orders in food for fairly spurious reasons. Yesterday they over-catered with Subway and emailed later in the day telling us to take some home for dinner/breakfast. They have a lot of other good labour practices as well but I always appreciate the mandatory caps on overtime because it’s a very simple, easy to identify way to show what their priorities are.

      3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        This means 14+ hour work days if you work every day or nearly 17 hour work days if you try and have a work free day every week. These numbers only seem vaguely possible if you have a full time stay at home spouse to deal with life for you. If you assume the junior staff only get 6 hours of sleep a night, that means they get less than 4 hours a day to shower, eat, commute, and live.

        I did that for ~9 months as a singleton in my first real programming job (severe staffing shortfalls). I was able to squirrel the overtime away and it was almost the entire down payment and roof on my home 5 years later, but by the end my mental health was in shambles for over a year afterwards.

        If you’re expecting 24 months at that pace, you’re effectively just killing off the group to get the survivors. Approach it and compensate it as such.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          If you’re expecting 24 months at that pace, you’re effectively just killing off the group to get the survivors. Approach it and compensate it as such.

          I was a Cross Country runner earlier in life. When my coach heard what college I was going to, he told me “find another activity,” because this is exactly what the coach there would do. He would run everyone who tried out for the team into the ground and race the last 7 runners whose legs still worked.

        2. Spero*

          I think it’s interesting that the amount of time you were able to do (9 mo) is also the amount of time the OP’s people are jumping ship! I’ve made it about 7 mo in a similar setup and I was only able to get through the last 6 weeks by counting down to the end. You just can’t do this for 24 mo straight.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I think it’s interesting that the amount of time you were able to do (9 mo) is also the amount of time the OP’s people are jumping ship!

            I totally missed that. Good observation! And the start of my crackup was actually submitting my notice (that I later rescinded).

          2. em_eye*

            That is really interesting because I work in a field with hours like that (political campaigns) and that’s about the longest timeframe I’ve seen it attempted. Anytime programs have tried to start earlier they end up starting with more normal hours and slowly ramping up.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              In my case, 9 months is about how long it took to recruit, hire, and train reinforcements. I actually think that I might have made it another 2-3 months if not for the catalystic event and my workload dropping just enough to have just enough time on my hands for Madness to seize.

            2. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

              Political campaigns, particularly in the home stretch towards election day, are perhaps the closest environment to investment banking that I can think of. All your energy is focused on winning the election (in campaigns) or getting the deal done (in banking) and people become myopic. Campaigns are a lot less lucrative, though.

      4. I think I work*

        The only way I would work that is if they had a campus with accommodations at the office provided for free with free catering, laundry, cleaning services, free ubers when I needed it and I would need at least 1 day off a week.

        You are burning out your employees and fast. I sometimes work 16 hours a day but even then I need time to recoup the next

      5. Anon for this*

        I was overseas in a warzone for over a year, working from 8am to 10pm because we had no need for a social life, yet even then they recognized the need to give us a break. We would eat as a group at the cafeteria, they pushed us to get out every day for physical exercise, and one day per week we started work near noon so that we had time for a coffee with friends and then we ended the day early at 7pm with a pizza party. We also had 3 weeks of vacation during our time, and 3 more weeks at the end of it.

        I can’t imagine anyone working longer hours than we did without breaking. We also dealt with some rather unusual work topics, which were an added stressor, but it sounds like this workplace is all high stress which would burn people out if they never get a break.

        The We Had To Suffer, So You Should Suffer Too style of management is not going to be effective forever. There might be reasons that it was justifiable in the past, but I agree with Alison that you will need to adapt unless you want to fail.

        1. The Editor-In-Chief*

          Same. Deployed, you drop off your laundry and pick it up a couple days later: free. Chow hall is fairly nearby and free. There was no Netflix, no social life, no need to take time to run errands or pay bills. Need shampoo? The PX is in a trailer a block from your office; would you like VO5 or Suave?
          No opportunities to do stuff like go shopping anyway, so you might as well be at work 12 to 14 hours a day.
          Even then, late starts Sunday mornings and EML/Block leave were critical and by month 12 we were all sick unto death of it. After 15 it was the end of everyone’s rope.

          Unless this job is somehow saving lives and there are no more people to hire …. yeah. Pretty amoral.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Inhumane is exactly the word I was thinking also. Companies must adjust to the idea that they do not own us.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            They’ve had 146 years…
            Though part of the problem is they’ve found people willing to work under these conditions. That’s not so easy anymore, and this was a long time coming!

    4. rl09*

      Right? That’s 14 hour days, 7 days a week. There is no amount of money that would make that a sustainable lifestyle for most people.

      1. lostclone*

        That means literally having no social life, no relationships, never seeing your family, not even being able to watch the latest series on Netflix because you’re working All The Time. I wouldn’t even be able to keep my place clean and my clothes washed on those hours.

        There are things in life worth more than a high salary, and I really hope the OP can see that too.

      2. UKDancer*

        Definitely. When I was a student I interviewed for a company which offered significantly large salaries but expected pretty much to own their staff for very long days. Their company had a shop, a dry cleaner on retainer and provided transport back home when you worked late so you hardly had to leave the office. They expected their graduate trainees to belong to them even to the extent of them all going on holiday together.

        I came away from the interview with a clear view that no money on earth would reward me enough for the time they wanted to own. I took a job which paid a lot less but expected people to have a life apart from work and did not expect. I’m not surprised if people find the time commitment expected unreasonable when they take up the job.

        Perhaps also Covid has made people reassess their priorities. I’ve at least 2 friends in their late 50s taking early retirement. They’ve both lost people to the disease and become more aware of the fact they want to enjoy their lives a bit more as life is short. One of my friends is doing an art degree (something she’s never been able to do) and another one is setting up a small business in floristry.

        1. em_eye*

          Moreover, people just can’t accurately assess their capacity for a life like that when they’re in the interview stage, which probably starts while they’re still in school. This company is probably recruiting top students who have been high achievers their whole life, and those people think “Well, I’ve been juggling class, internships, student organizations, and a healthy social life for the last four years while still getting high grades and I’ve been fine. Besides, I’ve never fallen short of my own expectations for myself. Surely I can handle this too.” Then it’s 9 months later, and they realize that the impact of doing the SAME thing for 100 hours a week FEELS very different from maintaining a busy schedule of a lot of different projects and activities, even if on paper the hours are similar. Meanwhile, their college friends are settling into a more normal existence, and they’re turning down invitations to weddings, weekend trips, and happy hours while their own work consumes more and more of their life. Add in the physical strain (aging comes at you FAST in your mid-twenties after a couple years of living on takeout, no exercise, no therapy, and a high-stress environment), lasting mental health effects from the pandemic, and a generation that cares more about doing meaningful work towards making a better place than making a quick buck in the corporate world, and you’ve got a recipe for burnout. Then a family crisis, breakup, health scare, etc. is just enough to put you over the edge.

    5. COBOL*

      This is really a response to those below, but it’s been industry practice for brokerage houses and top law. Doesn’t sound fun to me either, but it’s the track to make 7 figures by the time you hit 30. Appeals to some

        1. COBOL*

          The OP has some great insight below. When I was in my early 20s I worked 55 hours for much less, but wouldn’t do that now to make $150k. I think the tides are shifting, and most of these investment banks aren’t worth it.

      1. Observer*

        Appeals to some

        Yes. But even a lot of people who think it’s appealing simply can’t do it. Or can only do it with so much damage that they realize that they really need to stop.

    6. laowai_gaijin*

      Yeah, I was like, “So, your overworked staff keep leaving. Have you ever thought of, y’know, not overworking them?”

    7. bishbah*

      The only purpose of hours like that is for hazing. They brutalize the newcomers (“because that’s how it was for us”), destroy any and all ties to a life outside the company, and run roughshod over any and all personal boundaries. It’s not about 100 hours a week of productivity at all, it’s about tearing these junior staffers down as individuals and rebuilding them as “company men.” (And they’re going to mostly be men.)

      1. Vaca*

        OP here – I see a lot of this and I can say, definitively, it is *not* true. I and my colleagues all work very hard to try and make things sustainable, and I would very much love to find a different way to do this work. But I’m just worker ant #2 at a smallish hill. I am not in a position to change the way the industry is. It’s 100% client driven. If I can’t turn the presentation around for tomorrow morning, they will find somebody else who will. If I can’t take on this smallish project, well, when the big one comes along I’m not on the list.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Your industry seems fundamentally broken. I get that you’re not the CEO and you can’t snap your fingers and get approval to double your staff, but please keep reading these comments and try to understand why this model of employment needs to be on its way out.

          1. Properlike*

            Also, OP, you kinda *are* in a position to change the industry — people aren’t interested in doing it. So your company isn’t going to survive, or it’s going to have to change drastically, or you yourself are going to have to switch places. You sound like you’re pretty high up in management. And…

            *You’re* not interested in doing this lifestyle either! You want junior staff to put in their time so you can have your weekends and your time, because you earned that privilege from doing it yourself for the people higher than you, right?

            I can’t even begin to imagine what your company sees as “work-life balance” if you think it’s being offered under these conditions for new hires. “We feed you so you can eat and give you cab fare so you don’t crash your car or pass out from exhaustion on public transportation” isn’t balance.

            1. Vaca*

              OP here – saying I’m “high up in management” is like saying “Wallace Shawn was the star of Princess Bride.” Yeah, he had a great role and people remember it – but they could just as easily have cast Jason Alexander and nobody would know the difference. Apologies to Dinner with Andre fans.

              1. gmg22*

                Wait a minute. Not to get too far off topic her, but elsewhere in the comments, you seem very focused on “only certain very specific people can do what we do and we can only do it a certain very specific way or else it all falls apart” thinking. Which clearly doesn’t spill over to other areas of your life, or you wouldn’t talk crazy talk like “Jason Alexander could have played Wallace Shawn’s part in ‘The Princess Bride’ and no one would know the difference.” :-D

                So if you really do think that, then why don’t you also think that your job could probably get done just as well if you made your team bigger, experimented with shift coverage, or some other kind of innovation? Is it truly make or break to the clients that the same exact person must answer an email at 11 pm every single night, or could that role be ably played by two people with the information and training they need to do it well? (Or maybe even better, since their brains aren’t fried by 9-9-7 work?)

                1. Momma Bear*

                  And/or is there any wiggle for more administrative/executive assistant people to support the team? Do you need to pay the junior to format that PPT or can someone who is reasonably tech savvy do it and let the SMEs fill in the meat of it? That kind of thing. Maybe have them on a shift schedule to cover the 24hr-ness of it?

                2. Vaca*

                  OP here – so I think that yes, in theory we can make that work. In practice, it’s really, really hard. I’ve explained some of this elsewhere, but a quick version:
                  #1 Problem: BOSS DOESN’T CARE. I go to boss, say here’s my proposed solution, he says, “sounds like you don’t want to work here any more, don’t bring me your ideas, and by the way I’m cutting your bonus.” Yeah, I could leave over that, but it’s not like I’ve done anything to help anyone. Except maybe my boss, who now doesn’t need to pay me.
                  #2 Problem: The industry attracts huge weirdos like me who (at least say that they) want to work crazy hours. If I got my boss to sign off, I’d have to start looking at a completely different pool of applicants. They wouldn’t have any of the (at least theoretical) preparation that those who say that they want IB go and get.
                  #3 Problem: We are dependent on a middle tier of people who came up like this and who expect to have analysts at beck and call. If I tell them that they can’t have that any more? They will leave us. Period, full stop. This is a no-doubter in my mind. They aren’t going to take a pay cut and they aren’t going to endure losing access to people on weekends. They’ll just go across the street and get a job at a place that beats the analysts.
                  #4 Problem: Let’s say we split the job into two. The one who is *really fired up* is going to realize pretty quickly that her income is capped well below what she’d get across the street, and immediately take steps to rectify that. The one who didn’t really consider this career path will stick around. Guess which one is going to be willing to go to the mattresses when bullets start flying.

                  Bottom line, I totally agree that the way the industry works is crazy and I’d love to change it. I am really, really good at my job and my clients love me. But I’m not able to effect change on my own. So where does that leave me? What are my practical steps?

                3. Liz T*

                  -If #4 is truly a problem, then do you have a problem at all? Wouldn’t that “fired up” employee stay in the job under the current conditions?

                  -If #1 is truly a problem, what do you expect Alison to say? Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change. Keep hiring new junior staff every 9 months I guess.

                4. Elizabeth West*

                  @Vaca–What are your practical steps? There don’t seem to be any.

                  Frankly, I’d leave. It’s not worth it and your boss doesn’t give a shit and is not going to change. I’m sure you have mad skills that could be useful elsewhere.

                5. gmg22*

                  A couple of questions:

                  1)Are you working under a non-compete agreement with regard to clients?

                  2)Do you know other smart people in your field — via networking, industry orgs, etc — who are similarly frustrated by these problems? If not, can you start networking with the purpose of finding some of them?

                  If your clients love you (and you won’t face any financial ramifications for poaching some of them over time) but your company doesn’t give a bleep about you, it just seems very clear to me from your story that your best bet is to find somewhere else to do what you do well. That might be a firm that’s more forward-thinking than yours about work-life balance, or it might be a venture that you and some other like-minded people start together.

                  I’m well aware that none of this advice solves the problem you wrote in about (retaining your trainees under your current work regimen), and I’m sorry about that but I hope the body of comments here has made clear that you simply can’t solve that problem on your own. It’s a system problem. Your firm’s work culture is simply not currently compatible with the needs and desires of many of the young people applying to work for you. And you’re right that that could be a temporary problem, that drifts back toward the status quo as we slowly emerge from the pandemic years. But I hope it isn’t, and I think you hope that, too.

                6. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                  @Vaca – Food for thought, but what would you say to one of your analysts who didn’t propose reducing hours worked to reduce churn in the work force to one of your clients in the same position you are now?

                7. Cj*

                  Problem #2. People would start to consider your industry and do the preparation necessary once they could work half the hours at half the pay. It might take a while to get those people in the pipeline, but if they are now quitting as soon as you get them trained, you would eventually be better off.

                  Also #2. You say the industry attack people like you who want to work crazy hours, but in your letter to Alison, you specifically say you don’t want to do this.

                  Problem #3. Those people could still have people at their beck and call. Just twice as many people working half as many hours. And as it currently stands, they already don’t have *trained* people at their beck and call, because they keep quitting.

                  All of your comments are indicative that entire industry needs to change. Because then people can’t just “go across the street.”

                8. glebers*

                  Vaca, one issue seems to be that all of you are trying to tackle this issue part-time. So here’s something practical: can your firm hire someone to be in charge of recruitment and retention? Or make it an important part of someone’s job?

                  You don’t have authority or time and your boss doesn’t value your opinion and also doesn’t have the time. Maybe someone with the time and expertise can make a difference.

                  This seems like a really important and costly problem for your firm and right now your firm’s management is kind of half-assing it in their spare time.

                9. AVP*

                  Honestly, if all this is true, you’re just screwed so you should look for other jobs yourself or know that you’re back on the 100-hr plan. If you absolutely knew that the new kids weren’t going to put up with this bs, what would you do? Is there anyhting you’d change in your own life? Do it.

                10. Cj*

                  I ran out of the available “reply” buttons, so this is in reply to Glebers comment. It’s worth a shot, but most people are just really over working that many hours, not matter how much they get paid. And by “people”, I don’t mean just young people.

                  And 100 hours/week is way, way outside the norm. That only leaves you 68 hours/week to sleep, eat, shower and commute. And probably nothing else.

                  OP said elsewhere that they provide at least some meals (can’t remember how many/when). I’m sure they do, so you can keep working while you eat.

                11. MentalEngineer*

                  It sounds like your central problem here is actually Problem #3. I would encourage you to consider whether any of your middle-tier staff have actually beaten a) an index fund or b) a coin over the last 10 years. Because there’s abundant data that suggests basically nobody is.

                12. DJ Abbott*

                  @Vaca – I think the solution to the problem number three is not to ask current employees to take pay cuts.
                  I know your boss is not supportive anyway but if you ever did get a chance to do this, start the new system of twice as many analysts at half the pay with the next new hires.


                  Offer it to the current analysts so the ones who are burned out can have that option instead of leaving. Leave the offer open for two or three months so those who initially turned it down and burn out later can stay.

                  If you are worried the hotshot grads will take a job across the street for twice as much money and working around the clock, don’t be! Let them, and they’ll burn out in 6 to 9 months and cross the street to work for YOU. :D

                13. FFS*

                  @ Vaca your “practical steps” could include not punishing people who realize that killing yourself via work is untenable?

                  Like. Okay. You can’t do anything to change the industry. I get that. But what you’re proposing in your letter is inhumane and cruel and you could just…not do that. Keep on doing what you’re doing now, refuse to take on any extra work (and cut your hours significantly), and eventually your boss will realize something’s got to give.

                  Punishing people for not sacrificing their entire lives to the altar of work, which is what your suggestions in the original letter amount to, is not the way to go.

              2. The Dogman*

                Can’t reply further down but you asked

                “What are my practical steps?”

                I answer.


                Seriously, you don’t need that job if you are going to work for toxic people like your uncaring boss. Get out, get a dog (get 2 actually, at least one must be a Labrador or Golden), get some walking done and go live in the country somewhere, get a job that helps people live rather than one that enriches some of the worst humans on Earth.

                Good luck!

                1. Wut*

                  Exactly. This is just finances. It’s rich people’s play money, not life or death. You can leave and let them figure it out; they’ll all be fine.

            2. CoveredinBees*

              They don’t pay for that stuff out of concern for employees’ well-being. They charge it to the client as a way to keep staff later. A lot of perks in tech companies (endless food, they do your laundry for you, etc) are the same thing. Get people to spend as much time in the office as possible.

          2. Goldenrod*

            Totally! I think Alison’s suggestion to hire more people + pay them less is so simple, it’s genius. It’s a perfect, elegant solution.

            The work gets done, you’re paying out the same amount of money, and people actually have some work/life balance. It’s a win-win.

          3. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

            But if these people stick with banking, they’ll earn considerably more than $200K as they progress to associate, vice president, and managing director. The software engineer, much less so. Even if they leave banking for the buy side, they’ll have considerable salary gains that the software engineer will not (and if they get lucky their wealth might even eclipse that of those who stay on the sell side).

            It’s the Wall Street lawyers who have a very bad value proposition.

          4. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

            The market — and not Librarian of Shield — dictates what model of employment “needs to be on the way out” — the market does that. OP’s firm appears to be an exception, but in general, large professional service firms are well aware that there is huge employee churn, and their business model *depends* on that.

            Moreover, there are still far more applicants for investment banking analyst positions than there are positions available. No one is *forced* to stay at an investment bank, and comparisons to slavery are offensive. The applicants know perfectly well what they’re getting into; some stay, some leave after their 2-3 year analyst program is up, and others bail midway through. Again, most banks have a good grasp on the percentage of new analysts that will fall into each bucket.

            1. Avril Ludgateau*

              The market — and not Librarian of Shield — dictates what model of employment “needs to be on the way out” — the market does that.

              It seems ~~the market~~ has spoken through the voice of the new generation. Or did we forget that “the market” includes labor, too?

              Nobody is saying anybody is forced to work in IB. I’m not sure why you repeatedly bring and contest a point that has not been made. In fact, the OP’s problem is pretty explicitly the fact that people are not being suitably forced to stay, to the extent they are considering employing financial penalties for leaving. Once OP makes that poor choice, then we can quibble over what constitutes “force” with respect to labor, but prior to that, you need to focus on the arguments that are being made and not the strawmen that serve your perspective.

              1. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

                Of course the market includes labor. The bottom line is that there are still more applicants for these jobs than there are slots.

                And to repeat a question I put to OP earlier: have they systematically studied where these people are going? If they’re losing people to bulge bracket banks, or to consulting firms, or to FAANG companies or startups, they’re not *really* leaving for better hours. The hours at those places may — sometimes — be marginally better than at banks, but those aren’t lifestyle jobs. They would trigger (and do, in other threads) just as many complaints from the “I can’t imagine working past 6 pm” crowd as does banking. People leaving for those jobs are doing so for attractions like faster promotion/more authority, or the allure of being a CEO under 30.

        2. Ashley*

          Honestly I think this year we are finding there are fewer of those people who will do anything and everything to meet crazy deadlines.

          I can’t help but remember the classic 9 to 5 movie where they talk about job sharing.

          1. Worldwalker*

            There was a time when 9 to 5 jobs went from 9 am to 5 pm, not half an hour on either side of that, and a lunch hour was an hour long, part of the workday, not an unpaid half-hour to bolt leftovers in the break room.

            1. GRA*

              Agreed. I always laugh when I see “9-5” because every job I’ve had has been 8-5, with the promise of an hour “off” for lunch that of times ends up getting interrupted with work.

            2. londonedit*

              I mean, this is how it works in my job (though lunch is an hour unpaid as is standard) but as I said above, I don’t earn very much so it’s swings and roundabouts!

          2. Rebecca1*

            I mean, this year, a lot of the people who were willing to take those kinds of health risks have died.

        3. JimmyJab*

          Yah, but if you have twice as many employees, the same people won’t have to do that last minute job EVERY TIME. NO one is saying you can never expect busy weeks or late nights, etc. Just that every week for 2 years of that is INSANE.

        4. Elizabeth I*

          I get that you need to keep demanding clients happy with quick turn-arounds. But why are you assuming that the answer is 100 hour work weeks, when you could just have more workers that each work less hours?

          You could stagger or rotate people’s schedules (or even have an on-call duty rotation) so someone is *always* available to help. This could actually make you *more* responsive to clients – which is a competitive advantage (not to mention the competitive hiring advantage of being an employer of choice due to the more reasonable hours).

          Plus, the quality of client work would go up so much if people aren’t sleep deprived and miserable. Yet another competitive advantage that you are missing out on currently.

        5. Claire*

          Okay, I’ve heard all this before. The thing is, it’s not working now. If y’all are smart businesspeople you can’t keep saying “this is how it was ” because clearly you’re not. Assuming this is the industry I think it is, definitely look at how senior are treating juniors, are they being reasonable, are they dumping work on them. The people I know who left after 9 months had issues like that. They knew about the hrs etc but the senior not helping things is what made them leave.

        6. Mockingjay*

          You may not be able to change the entire industry, but can you try and make things bearable for your own reports? Recommend the suggestions here to hire more people at lower pay and fewer hours. Tout it as cost effective strategy for retention and recruitment, avoiding the effects of the Great Resignation, whatever it takes. Get your poor staff some relief, because The Great Resignation is continuing. The companies that change now for the betterment of employees will be the ones that survive.

          1. Cj*

            I don’t think the OP is all that interested in making things more bearable for her own reports. After, all, she had to do it when she was new, so why shouldn’t they? And she doesn’t want to work more hours now to take some of the load off them.

            The one and only reason she seems to want to make it better for them is so they don’t quit.

        7. gmg22*

          Does any single client actually demand 100 hours a week from a team? Or are you working these hours serving a list of clients?
          – If the answer is the latter, aren’t we still circling back to “You don’t hire enough people to do all the work”?
          – If the answer is the former, what is the reason that it can’t be addressed by making the team that serves a particular client larger, and equipping everyone with what they need so you can be effective in a shift-type coverage model, ie someone will be available when the big demanding client needs them, but everyone doesn’t have to be available “9-9-6” or worse?

          Before you say “We can’t afford any of that,” consider that you wrote to AAM out of concern that your company investing a quarter of a million bucks a year in people who increasingly won’t stay. It seems clear that your current business model has a false-economy problem.

          1. Vaca*

            OP here – it’s the latter. We have lots of clients. I guess, brass tacks, I’d love to try it. I don’t have any input, though. And I suspect that, as a small firm, we would end up losing the better analysts to bigger banks who do the 100 hour weeks and be stuck with the lower performers.

            There are a lot of folks on here who insist on pointing out that the industry is insane. I agree! It’s insane! But I’m the red queen here, believing six impossible things before breakfast. I can’t snap my fingers and change the industry. All I can do is run twice as fast so as not to stay in place.

            1. JimmyJab*

              Ok, so you accept no solution other than punishing junior employees more than already? Ok, no, you shouldn’t do that, it’s bad. The end.

            2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              Maybe if 100 hr weeks from junior staff are required and you keep losing junior staff to bigger firms, your firm might be too small to be viable. Industries change and small-to-medium size business who are generalists have been disappearing in a number of sectors. Maybe yours is one of those industries where, unless small-to-medium sized firms can learn to specialize/find a niche, their days are numbered and their numbers will drop in the next 10-15

              1. Vaca*

                OP here – I’m going to counter that one, hard. I work really, really hard, but I know my family extremely well. I’ve given up everything else to make that balance work. I’m really not some flesh-eating monster.

                1. Nesprin*

                  Sure, I’ve known a ton of surgeons who claimed that there was no way that the 80hr/week cap for residents put in place by the AMA would allow them to learn everything they needed to during their residencies. And after all, they (the old guard) survived working 100+ hrs a week and went on to be great surgeons. Really, the culture of doom and gloom that the next generation of surgeons were going to be under-trained was almost comical in its oppressiveness. And yet, a decade after hours were capped, new surgeons still got trained, and got to sleep/not work for an extra 20 hours a week.

                  OP the point of this parable is that if you are losing people, and losing business because you can’t hold on to people, maybe trying other things would be beneficial. If it worked for you, that’s not a sign that it will work for everyone for ever in all situations.

                2. Apple of the day*

                  And is it worth it to you? Are you happy?

                  My father-in-law worked crazy hours in investment banking and spent all other time with his family. His only “hobby” was mowing the lawn twice a month. He had a lot of plans to retire and golf and travel. Was diagnosed with a terminal disease 6 months after retiring in his early 60s. Never met his grandkids or traveled. My husband is a hard worker but would never take a job that required 100 hour weeks. He knows that what you don’t do today may never happen at all.

                3. IDK*

                  I don’t think you are a monster, but I also think you are looking for excuses and justification for the way things are instead of actually processing the advice being given.

                  I have a colleague who refuses to work any OT. Her personal time is valuable to her. She can afford to give that push back financially. More and more people are finding the value in work/home life balance and realize the almighty dollar isn’t everything.

                  If you truly want to solve your problem, you have to be willing to look into alternatives instead of providing excuses for why things are the way they are. You might be surprised. Maybe those same workers who left for bigger brands will find the value in what changes your company offers to make the switch back.

                4. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                  You mention having family. What would you say to one of your children if they told you about a workplace asking them to work 100+ hours a week continuously for two years?

                5. Not So NewReader*

                  But you have high sitting duck vulnerability going on.
                  You have said here that you would prefer a different method but you are stuck perpetuating what the status quo that the boss wants.
                  How long are you willing to push the round peg into the square hole with out success?
                  How many years can you do this and still feel good about life?
                  Money is nice but at some point we have to think about what we are sending out to the world or our one square foot of the world.
                  Our country is changing and changing and changing, companies will learn to adapt or not.

                  Your company/industry is showing you that they feel no sense of loyalty toward you. They will treat you the way the newbies are being treated. Don’t get sick. Don’t have a family emergency. When people burn out the industry does not care. This telegraphs how you will be treated also. It’s okay to believe them.

                6. Anon for this*

                  @Apple of the Day
                  Your comment clued me into what may be the fundamental problem, although I don’t know why I didn’t see it earlier!

                  This isn’t about working 100 hours a week for 24 months, this is about working many long hours a week for a career, by OP’s own explanation. At some point the young people must be looking at OP and thinking that they don’t want to be stressed and unhappy and unsupported 20 years in future.

                  I also just had the thought that OP isn’t supported by their manager in some basic ways (how to hire more effectively), and their manager deals with problems in a horrible way by threatening the OP with being replaced. Young people may be looking at that dynamic and leaving for a healthier workplace. Other places may also expect long hours but if the environment is supportive then that makes a big difference.

            3. Spero*

              I would also challenge you to re-orient your mind. Is what you do SO impossible that 2 70th percentile performers would not be able to between them do more than 1 99th percentile performer? In most industries, it’s simply not the case. Two minds and sets of hands can do more than 1.

              1. Spero*

                And I’d also add: what you’re actually getting here is one 99th percentile performer with 3 mo experience and exhaustion vs two well rested, 1.5-2 year experienced 70th percentile people. At some point, the increased experience and mental state of your supposedly low performers will make them overtake the abilities of someone who had stellar marks right out of school but is now exhausted and trying to jump ship.

                1. Harper the Other One*

                  Exactly! An exhausted 99th percentile person is functioning way below 70th percentile, even before you work in experience.

                2. Greenbean*

                  Not to mention, if your firm is offering positions for 50 hrs/week, I wouldn’t just assume you’ll be getting low performers as applicants – on the contrary, you’ll probably be getting some high performers who had self-selected out of applying for the 100 hr/week positions. You will have seriously expanded your applicant pool.

                3. STAT!*

                  Agree totally Spero. Those “better analysts” are the hares. Also Greenbean below may be right that the even higher performers already self-selected out before hiring begun.

                4. Porcubear*

                  I’m also pretty fucking dubious that there aren’t any really high quality potential employees who also don’t want to work 100 hours a week. Not to humblebrag but it’s acknowledged that I’m one of the most technically skilled people in my office, as well as in demand for things like mentoring newer staff where we have a strong focus on being nurturing as well as helpful. I also regularly do exactly 2 hours of overtime when the busy time of year rolls around solely because then I can say “Oh, I already did some OT.” Forty hours a week and then I’m out the door. To OP, apparently the fact that I’m not willing to work ridiculous hours necessarily means that my work is poorer quality, and I think my managers and coworkers would all argue with that.

            4. Mattieflap*

              If your only recourse is to treat junior employees in a soul crushing way, your industry isn’t sustainable, no matter how much you claim to work to make it so.

              Maybe it was sustainable for a period of time – decades, even. But times have changed. We have over 700k people dead of Covid, we have more who have left the workforce due to the pressures of child care, long-Covid disability, or just out of sheer refusal to kill themselves for a job that won’t value them. Worker attitudes are shifting toward the idea that work does not equal their entire life, nor should it. If companies and industries cannot adjust to that, they will not get the employees they need.

              Since you can’t make junior employees stay and you’re frustrated by your own work/life balance as a result, I suggest you look for another job with better options to suit your life – just as your junior employees have.

            5. allmylittlethoughts*

              I see that you keep saying that you’ll lose the better analysts to companies that require 100 hour work weeks. My honest question to you is: why are you so sure about that? It seems like you are losing analysts because of the unsustainable hours, so wouldn’t they stay? Even if you do lose some that are interested in the crazy hours and higher pay, why do you assume that those willing to work fewer hours for less money will be the “worse” analysts? These both seem like pretty big assumptions and I’m wondering what you’re basing them on.

              1. TechWorker*

                ESPECIALLY if you’re hiring grads for these roles – there will be a whole bunch of very bright and talented people who self select out of the entire industry because they are not interested in 100hr weeks.

              2. Russ*

                So much this.

                There also seems to be an implicit assumption that how good an analyst is will be independent of how many hours they work, as if humans are motors that you can just turn on and off and it’s more efficient to leave them on for longer. This is not how anything works. I guarantee you that the analysts who are working 100 hours a week are not the best analysts because that’s humanly impossible. You are losing so much work quality to that schedule that it’s insane, and the only reason why you’re not realizing that is because everyone is so burned out your judgment is compromised.

                1. Stargazer*

                  It’s not even how motors work, either! “Burning out” comes from machinery after all. And I’ve seen the metaphor in real life when a clueless bean counter thought we could run them three shifts nonstop, too. It was not good, and not profitable either.

                2. Cedrus Libani*

                  Worse, the assumption is that the best analysts are the ones who insist on working for every last moment their biology allows. Yes, there are bright and ambitious young people who will snap up the largest paycheck offered to them, and who would never consider “buying” shorter hours by accepting less money. There are also bright and ambitious young people who want to kill it for 50 hours/week at work and then go home and do other things, they just know better than to go into the finance sector.

                3. Archaeopteryx*

                  Exactly. Right now, you are firm/industry is only attracting those interested in sacrificing themselves in order to make a ton of money. If you offer more humane hours, you may be able to access a candidate pool that is just as talented, enthusiastic, and skilled, but which has a broader concept of what it means to live a good life. Your culture may see the benefits too! Right now you’re driving away anyone for whom the pay isn’t a big enough temptation.

            6. glebers*

              Alison suggests hiring more people for less pay and fewer hours. You’re concerned you’ll just lose the top performers who are able to handle the hours. Can you split the difference? Have some positions that are lower paid and have other job functions where the grueling hours are expected for higher pay?

              Lots of good discussion here about the merits of the industry’s structure, but one of Alison’s good points is that it’s probably not reasonable to expect new professionals to really be entering this field clear-eyed. They may think they can handle 100 hour weeks but thinking you can and actually doing it is clearly different (and also totally reasonable). Which makes punishing them for leaving particularly awful.

              But if you have a job function that is less demanding, you have an outlet for these folks that are 9 months in and realize they can’t continue. You have a way for these people to switch jobs but not lose the time you spent training them.

              Or maybe you start folks on the lower track and the more intense job is a promotion for those who get an inside look at the industry and know they want it.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                This is a good idea.
                OP, before you protest again that you are not the person who is making these decisions, I will point out that at a good company, someone who has a good idea get the credit for it. Make a business proposition, send it up the chain and see what they say. I really like the idea from glebers of having 2 tracks. I’ll go one further. Have everybody at the 50-hour track, with short, fixed-term assignments at the hundred hour level.

              2. Quinalla*

                Yes, this was what I was thinking too – dual tracks with the old-school way for people that are willing to work 100 hour weeks and the track that basically makes it a 50 hour week for less than half the pay (because benefits, etc. are all costs) and they do a jobshare to split the on call hours essentially. It would likely be challenging to manage at first, but I think you’d have much better luck keeping employees.

              3. Marion Cotesworth-Haye*

                Agreed. This is how BigLaw has tried to address similar issues — some folks have lower billable targets per year, with pay and bonuses prorated to account for that (and sometimes different titles). It does help retain experienced, value-add associates who are on the bubble between leaving and staying. As with any high-demand client-driven business, it’s not perfect because client needs are unpredictable, but it’s worth considering.

                1. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

                  It does help retain experienced, value-add associates who are on the bubble between leaving and staying.

                  One problem, though, is that those associates have already completed their professional degree, whereas investment banking analysts haven’t, and a lot of them want to gain admission to top MBA programs.

            7. Lexie*

              To me your letter read like you came up with a list of ideas and were looking for feedback on which one to implement or at least which one to submit to the higher ups. So I’m confused as to why you are saying you don’t have any input when people offer alternatives.

            8. LM*

              Then, no offense, why did you write in?

              You are all over these comments claiming you know how “insane” it is (could we not, with the ablist language, maybe?) But you are powerless to do anything! You can change nothing! These are all good ideas, but you can implement none of them! How terrible for you!

              What? If you already know your industry (or your firm in particular) has requirements that are unhealthy and toxic, then your question is all wrong. If you can’t qffect change at all, then why bother asking it?

              To be quite frank, between your post and your comments, it reads like you submitted this hoping for validation; to be told that what you went through was perfectly reasonable and of course there is nothing wrong with putting this generation of recruits through the same crap, they’re all just asking too much and should be perfectly satisfied with a fat paycheque, no social life and decreased life expectancy! How dare they!

              Otherwise you should have phrased your question as “my industry is finally starting to see consequences for its unreasonable behaviour and my position means I am getting the brunt of it as all our new starters quit before they are even halfway through their training period. Is there a way for me to survive this, or will I need to jump the same way all our recruits have done to get out of the line of fire?”

              Otherwise, why ask the question if you can do literally nothing with any of the answers?

              1. Vaca*

                OP here – I know I keep saying this, but:
                1. I do have input. Not really control, though.
                2. I definitely wrote some of those ideas when I was coming into a hellish week that ended up being 110 hours, two all-nighters, after an analyst quit for a competitor at a critical moment. I was feeling punitive.
                3. I have an immediate topic I have been given some purview with, which is “how do we avoid training people who immediately leave for a competitor?” That purview is not extended to “how do we change this industry from our back closet on West Broadway?”
                4. I like some of these ideas. If I leave this bank to start another, well, I might just use them.

                1. Black*

                  I’ve read your comments and unless your company is willing to change, the problem is unsolvable.

                  People have realized that it just ain’t worth it and $30/hr ain’t shit in a major metro area to work yourself to death. You’re going to get candidate after candidate who accepts the role, works long enough to make their resume look good and bails for a job that pays 2/3rds as much for a 40 hour workweek.

                  100 hours a week and no PTO is so absurd that your company has no legitimate complaint on the turnover rate. You abuse your employees, so you can’t complain when they use you.

                2. sagc*

                  It’s wild how committed you are to there being answer to this that isn’t “make the job suck less”. Like, all of this seems to be the result of basic, capitalist logic, and is totally understandable in terms of finance?

                3. Vaca*

                  @sagc – I don’t control any of the things people are suggesting that we implement. Seriously. It’s like telling me that we should all start speaking Mandarin at work. Seriously, it would be so much more efficient! Way more people speak it! It’s the wave of the future! None of us speak Mandarin. My boss doesn’t speak Mandarin. The bank across the street doesn’t speak Mandarin. I agree, aspects of the job suck. But just as Alison says about bosses, I am never going to change it. At least not at my current job.

                  @Black exactly. The challenge for the old school guys is that this party bus is going to crash eventually. And then the old way of doing thing comes back. At least they think so.

                  You all should hear the shade that got thrown at me for suggesting anyone who worked Friday night should get Saturday off.

                4. WellRed*

                  I don’t know if you’ll see this but why are they leaving for your competition? Also, if your mandate is strictly as stated in no. 3, we’ll that’s a big problem because it avoids the root causes.

                5. Apple of the day*

                  I think you need HR, like yesterday.

                  Also some places do a “sabbatical” for employees, they get some additional PTO after a certain amount of time working at the company. What if you gave folks 4-6 weeks PTO (and they truly were off) at 24 months, and maybe a bonus. A small carrot for making it to the end and a chance for people to reset.

                6. Not So NewReader*

                  Then this is who your company is and what your industry is.
                  I get it, you can’t change them.

                  The only thing you can change is YOU.

                  My friend is in X industry (not yours). She did the 100 hour weeks. Before she hit 40 she said, “I. can’t. do. this.” Now this is a person who is very good at their job and highly valued. She went home and stayed there for months. Her ability to function started to return. Now she is doing some freelancing.
                  At some point, and that point is different for different people, our bodies say to us, “If you keep doing what you are doing you are going to DIE.”

                  My husband worked 12-16 hours a day for years. He died at 59.
                  People don’t wanna die young, OP, and I think that is the point that you’re missing here.

                7. Koalafied*

                  You’re going to get candidate after candidate who accepts the role, works long enough to make their resume look good and bails for a job that pays 2/3rds as much for a 40 hour workweek.

                  My nonprofit job pays me nearly twice as much per hour for a 35 hour workweek, flexible hours, and 5 weeks annual vacation in addition to 10 holidays and early dismissal on Fridays in the summer and before holiday weekends. Because of the pandemic strain on everyone this year they upped it to Fridays off during the summer and are giving us the entire week of Thanksgiving instead of the usual Thursday and Friday.

                  More money is great in theory but at some point the juice just isn’t worth the squeeze. Working 3x longer to make 2x more is a poor economic proposition.

                8. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

                  I have an immediate topic I have been given some purview with, which is “how do we avoid training people who immediately leave for a competitor?”

                  I, unlike most people in this thread, have worked in investment banking and BIGLAW, and on the sell-side. Here’s my three cents.

                  1. My first piece of advice would be to look at where these departing analysts are going.

                  – If they’re exiting for investment banking competitor — particularly if they’re leaving your boutique for bulge bracket firms — the hours are NOT the issue. They knew the hours coming in (yes, believe it or not, college seniors talk to the first-year banking analysts a year ahead of them), and they know that the hours will be equally as bad at most competitors.

                  – If they’re leaving for the buy side, the hours may be the issue, although bear in mind that the hours in private equity, while better than on the buy side, would still leave most of the AAM commentariat aghast. Bear in mind that it used to be that private equity firms looked for people who had spent several years at banks; Increasingly, they’re willing to hire fresh new analysts. Ultimately a lot of bankers see the buy side as their exit, and if they land a spot at a good private equity firm or hedge fund, there can be *more* upside than in banking with a (somewhat) better lifestyle. Why not leap earlier on, if you have the chance?

                  – If they’re leaving for startups, again, hours are less likely to be an issue. Startups may have marginally better hours than investment banks, but the hours are still quite intense. The analysts leaving for startups are likely to be *more* risk-loving than the norm: if you land at a startup that ripens into a unicorn, the position can be much more lucrative than in banking. (One of our portfolio companies had an exit recently; the early employees are now all multi-millionaires, and the later senior employees are mere millionaires.) Also, startups are less hierarchical. A fresh college grad at a bank may get to hobnob with senior folks at meetings, but she’s not the decisionmaker; the MD is. At a startup, she will have real clout. The same is even more true of new grads who go into politics: they do it for the influence, not for the money.

                  2. Investment banking is never, ever going to be a 9-5 job. The people above complaining about how banking leaves no time for crocheting or what not are not bankers and, in all likelihood, were never realistic candidates to become bankers. But that said, there’s a tremendous difference between working 70-80 hours a week, and working 80-100 hours. I do think that most banking work is compatible with a 60-80 hour workweek, particularly if you’re able to give people some down time in between deals.

                  3. Consider whether having analysts report to a single MD/VP/associate team, rather than being generally available in a firm-wide pool, might reduce unnecessary hours.

                9. esra*

                  The people above complaining about how banking leaves no time for crocheting or what not are not bankers and, in all likelihood, were never realistic candidates to become bankers.

                  I’m sorry to harp on this, but legitimately people are here complaining that working 100/hr week for years will harm you physically and mentally and that is provably true.

                1. More anon today*

                  Really, this may be your only option. Right now, you are feeling all the pain from people leaving. You said your boss doesn’t care. Of course not, you are insulating boss from the pain by covering for the staff you can’t keep. As Alison often says, you won’t get this boss to care until you can pass some of the pain on to them. If saying, “nope, I’m done, Xty hours a week is my limit, you’ll have to take over” isn’t an option, then I’m not sure what else you can do besides leave.

                  And yeah, one person leaving won’t instantly change things, but if it’s truly this hard to keep new staff, then eventually it will get bad enough that people at your level start leaving too, and eventually your boss and same level people at other companies might see the light. Until then, all you can really do is decide what you are willing to put up with – and be sure to tell them why if you leave.

              1. silverpie*

                Split verdict. The white queen believed the six impossible things, but the red queen did the running-in-place bit.

            9. gmg22*

              Ah ha. I wasn’t clear why changes like what I’m describing would automatically mean that better analysts would want to leave your firm and jump from the frying pan back into the 100-hour-a-week fire. But then I realized that we never discussed salary, and you’re assuming that what I’m describing means people get paid a lot less.

              I’m not suggesting that at all. I’m suggesting that your firm should realize it’s created a false economy by paying a small number of people a lot of money to work themselves into the ground, and should keep pay competitive (realistically maybe lower, but not that much lower) but invest upfront in hiring some more people. Profits in the short term will be lower, which, ah, there’s the rub. (I don’t know the ownership model of your firm, obviously, but if it’s small I’m assuming it’s private.) In the long term, however, it seems pretty clear that improved retention is going to save you an awful lot of time and money. But I know from fairly close-up experience (at a political risk consulting firm that had a lot of your industry as clients) that investment bankers are fatally bad at thinking in the long term, which I suspect is the Achilles’ heel you’re dealing with.

              What you are seeing from these early departures is practically shouting through a bullhorn: These kids want work-life balance — yes, even some of the really smart ones who have the stuff to become franchise players. Your firm should be brave and take a shot at making that happen.

              1. Vaca*

                Preaching to the choir on that one! I’ve been singing from the hymnbook of “we should be paying more!” for years. Unfortunately senior partners are immune from the power of the Lord.

                1. Madame Hardy*

                  Senior partners are not, however, immune from the power of a changing society.

                  What you are trying to do now is not working. Senior partners are insisting that it must work, because it has always worked, and therefore no change is possible. I have seen this line of thinking up close in the computer industry. All those companies are now out of business, or headed that way.

                  You can’t keep doing the same thing, expecting people to have no lives outside work, if the people who sign up to do it universally quit after six months. There isn’t an answer to “I need people to work these hours so I don’t have to work these hours.” You can’t fix your senior partners’ problem, being unable to hire people who can stand up to extreme pressure, when they’re unwilling to change the employment conditions. At least once you’ve found that person *and they left to get more pay*.

                  You can’t change how the senior partners think, and you can’t change how your employees think, either. You’re stuck in the middle. In my employment experience, you are also on a sinking ship. The whole corporate model falls apart — you’ve already mentioned this, that you’re losing bids — without people working exploitative hours.

                  Stop looking at your (very substantial) sunk costs in this firm, and ask yourself if you’d hire on at this firm, today, as a junior employee. If not, do your best to go join a firm where new employees do want to join.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  My husband had a addition to an old saying.

                  The saying is “Crap rolls down hill.”
                  My husband added, “But the stench drifts upward.”

                  In years to come, OP, you could be come known as “one of them” who perpetuated this barbaric system.

                  You are saying your boss does not care. OP, the newbies who left are saying YOU do not care. They see you as entrenched.

                3. allathian*

                  Paying more won’t help with the unsustainable hours. Paying more, in the sense of hiring more people and allowing them to work less, might. I bet you’d get a lot better retention if you managed to cut working hours so that they never exceed 80 hr/week, and even that’s double the standard 40 hour week.

                4. allathian*

                  Oh, and also, given that working such long hours is unsustainable, you might just find that having people work a bit less means no loss in productivity, because they’re working more efficiently.

            10. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

              I suspect that you’d find a bunch of the older, more experienced analysts from larger banks, who are fed up with that lifestyle, willing to move to a less demanding role.

              And it wouldn’t take you two years to make them useful.

              1. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

                At the analyst level, they’re gunning for spots in top MBA programs. There aren’t a lot of “older analysts” at large banks; it’s an up-or-out culture. They either go to B-school, get promoted to associate (in rare cases) without an MBA, or leave for non-investment banking positions (whether on the sell side or outside of finance altogether).

            11. Phony Genius*

              I think the industry, the clients, the company, and the employees would all be better served by having more employees working with fewer clients each. I know that it’s not a 1:1 ratio, so one 10ohr/wk employee would probably have to be replaced by two 60hr/wk employees. This is still a significant amount of work for one to gain experience. Yes, it would take 3.33 years to reach the same level of experience as the current systems allows, but the quality of the work may well be much better, along with the quality of the employees.

            12. Sandman*

              This will be a tough problem to solve if you don’t have any real input, OP, but I wonder if losing the better analysts is as much of a problem as you fear. Maybe it is, it’s your industry and not mine, but if you can only keep people for a few months you’re not getting the payoff for those better analysts – or, since this sounds like an entry-level role, people who you think will be the better analysts but haven’t proven themselves yet. It could be interesting to think about what shifts you could make there.

              Also – are bigger banks keeping new staff at 100 hours a week, or are they having the same problem? That could shed some light on whether this is a larger cultural shift or if there’s some more specific issue with your firm.

            13. MK*

              Vaca, that’s really interesting about losing the best analysts to bigger firms – ultimately I guess you won’t know unless you try it, and you could be right. Alternatively though, if you’re not the only firm having this problem (and you probably aren’t), maybe you’ll be in a position to scoop up some awesome candidates who tried to do 100-hour weeks and just burned out at other places!

            14. Adam*

              > And I suspect that, as a small firm, we would end up losing the better analysts to bigger banks who do the 100 hour weeks and be stuck with the lower performers.

              Why do you suspect that? My industry (tech) used to be known for ridiculous working hours, and they eventually realized that the best employees care a lot about their working conditions and will move to the places that treat them well. You’ll probably lose the people who are willing to work twice as many hours for twice as much pay, but you’ll gain access to a bunch of people who would otherwise never touch your industry with a 10-foot pole, and it doesn’t seem at all obvious that the former people are more valuable than the latter.

              1. Porcubear*

                I commented further up about my job having a maximum of 60 hours a week, six days in a row, even during our busiest time of year. And you know what? I work in tech too. Another bonus of the good working conditions is that we have an incredibly diverse staff even if you’re *not* comparing only to other tech companies, which similar to staff not being overworked has been proven to lead to better outcomes as well because of the variety of perspectives (and just having cool coworkers). I could get more pay by switching jobs, easy, but it’s not worth it to me because I don’t want to risk losing the people focus my management has.

              2. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

                they eventually realized that the best employees care a lot about their working conditions and will move to the places that treat them well.

                Um, when did this happen? People in Silicon Valley or Guragaon brag about their long hours every bit as much as bankers.

                1. Silicon Valley person*

                  the braggarts are not necessarily the best – they are just the loudest.

                  Also, time spent working is not the same as productive time.

            15. Salsa Verde*

              “I suspect that, as a small firm, we would end up losing the better analysts to bigger banks who do the 100 hour weeks”
              “The one who is *really fired up* is going to realize pretty quickly that her income is capped well below what she’d get across the street, and immediately take steps to rectify that”

              I feel like what these two statements are saying is that you are concerned that if you hired people who would take less money to work fewer hours, those people wouldn’t be as good as the ones who are willing to work 100 hour weeks for more money. But the people that you decided were good enough to hire are leaving anyway. So you don’t have less fired up analysts, you don’t even have any analysts.

              So I would say A. maybe less fired up analysts are better than no analysts at all, and B. you don’t actually know that those who want more money and are willing to work 100 hours/week to get it are better analysts than those who are not willing to do that. It seems like that assumption is being made with no evidence, since no one in this industry has tried to work shorter hours for less pay in a long time, if ever!

            16. becc*

              I also want to challenge your core assumption here: “we would end up losing the better analysts”, i.e. “high performer” == “would only be happy working 100 hours per week”.

              That seems demonstrably false. You’re losing analysts right now — some of whom must be good — so they can have a more sustainable lifestyle. Surely many of them would be happy to stay with you and have that sustainable lifestyle without having to switch employers.

              I’d also offer myself as an example. I’m a former high performer in another stressful industry, and I consciously chose to cut my pay substantially to have more work-life balance. I’m no less of a high performer. I don’t see why that isn’t also true in your industry.

              1. aebhel*

                This. If you’re requiring 100 hour weeks, you’re selecting primarily for candidates who are willing and able to work 100 hour weeks. They’re not going to necessarily be the best candidates by any other measure.

            17. lunalae*

              I’m likely in a semi-related field to what you do, I know we compete with the Big 4 accounting firms for candidates and such, and we have some incredibly talented analysts working for $50-75K a year but 40 hr weeks and incredible health insurance. I’m not sure how much more our NYC counterparts make but I promise the talent isn’t going to be an issue.

            18. Academic Physician*

              ” . . . we would end up losing the better analysts to bigger banks who do the 100 hour weeks and be stuck with the lower performers.”

              From your original question, it seems that you are ALREADY losing (have lost) your analysts

            19. Cold Fish*

              Could you try small steps? Instead of hiring two people for 100 hr work weeks, try hiring 3 people for 80 hr work weeks. Still insane hours but a little more manageable. Use the excuse that you’re going to hire 3 knowing 2 will quit.

              I’m not trying to be mean here but people are offering solutions and you just keep shooting them down with “No, that won’t work” but you aren’t really giving reasons why that wont work that don’t boil down to “that’s just how the industry is”. You are a smaller firm, you are going to have to try and break that box and try something new because you can’t compete with the larger firms doing it their way.

            20. AVP*

              Look, if you don’t have any input, then we’re back to “your boss suck and you can’t change him, accept it and figure out what your next step is.” Someone is going to have to figure out how to hack this at some point, or you’re going to lose all your talent to Google. Go find that person and work for them, maybe?

            21. Elizabeth*

              But why do you assume the “better analysts” would leave?? Maybe the better analysts would also prefer a more sane work-life balance and you’d attract a huge group of loyal, happy analysts doing great work for you?!?

            22. Becca*

              You’re already losing staff. Apparently some to bigger banks (I think the letter said this?) but also to burnout. What you have isn’t working. If you can’t convince your current firm to change, maybe you should move to one of those big banks that apparently don’t have the same problems losing staff to burnout too? Of course the calculation is a lot more complicated than that. For you and also, I suspect, for the good analysts you fear losing.

            23. NotAnotherManager!*

              I want to push back on your idea that only lower performers want to have work/life balance. My organization is smaller for the industry, but we offer a better (not great, but better) work/life balance than the big dogs as well as more opportunities to lead earlier in one’s career.

              Also, if you have someone who’s not performing, get rid of them. You’re paying less for fewer hours, not for lower quality. I suspect your industry, like mine, is all about people with elite educations and high-falutin’ qualification – guess what? There are lots of smart, hard workers who dream of the opportunity to work in your industry and just didn’t grow up in the “right’ socioeconomic strata to be positioned for an Ivy/SLAC. I stopped letting principals interview junior candidates because they were looking for the wrong qualifications, and I rely heavily on situational interview questions to find people with the right raw materials. Find people for whom this is a great job.

            24. Former Borders Refugee*

              You’re not KEEPING the “high performers,” so what’s better? 6-9 months of a high performer that goes “I cannot do this anymore” and bails or 2+ years of a “lower performer” that actually learns the job and hangs around?

              Are the other larger banks also having this culture shift? Because that’s what this is. It’s a culture shift. Adapt or die.

          1. Vaca*

            OP here – I work weekends and evenings to try and free up time for juniors. I fight routinely to turn down mediocre assignments. I document training materials nobody else will, spend time on the phone reviewing documents live as a training exercise rather than just marking them up. I could easily just stop doing *all* of that.

            1. sagc*

              None of these, except for the first (which you clearly resent) is actually making their lives easier, really? Not better, at least.

            2. Slightly Burned*

              Okay so why don’t you? What would happen if no one else did these things? I don’t understand why you’re burning yourself to the ground for your employer when it doesn’t even seem like you enjoy it. I’m not trying to sound snarky, you genuinely sound miserable.

              I’m not sure what type of advice your looking for, but my advice to you would be to quit your job and do it soon. This doesn’t sound like a situation that’s going to get better any time soon, in fact I would bet money that it’s going to get significantly worse as more and more people are reevaluating what treatment they’re willing to accept from their employers.

            3. Rusty Shackelford*

              And yet they’re leaving. Why? What are they getting from their next employer that they aren’t getting from you guys?

            4. Yikes, op*

              I mean. Yes, you could actively choose to be a worse manager. That is a thing that you could choose to do. That is a thing you could dedicate your limited human lifespan to doing. You could do that. You could deliberately make your employees more miserable and stressed out, if that’s what you chose to do. You could give them another reason to leave for less abusive, greener pastures

              Or you could try improve things for the people you interact with. That is also a choice available to you.

            5. cyllan*

              But they’re still required to work 100 hour weeks. So you burning yourself out clearly isn’t the solution here. Hire more people; accept less work.

            6. Calamity Janine*

              with all due respect and kindness –
              if you’re struggling to deal with the added work that the junior associates would have done, and are clearly resenting the fact that you have to work such hours and burn yourself out…
              then… well… it’s a sign you’re not being kind to those employees, right? you’re showing that burnout is inevitable and this role is unsustainable, because you’re trying to do it yourself and struggling. instead of blaming the juniors who don’t want to be in your predicament, maybe look to the system that has put you in this predicament. it will mean swallowing your pride of “but i did my time in the sludge mines! i’m supposed to be past this! i put in the work, how dare they make me return to this sort of schedule!”, and that hurts. but if you can’t hack it, you can’t really get too mad that other people also can’t hack it. it’s not a personal betrayal any more than you suffering right now is a personal betrayal. if you’ve been doing this work for years and you know all the ins and outs, and you’re still burning out, it means the junior associates are absolutely doomed when they try to keep up, right?
              it sounds like it might be a really good time for you to look at your own situation and ask yourself about your own suffering, your own burnout, and your own willingness to do this to yourself. it might be that you’re in a situation where nobody is happy, including yourself, and everyone is being harmed, again including yourself. and that might mean it’s time for you to think about what’s good for you as a human individual instead of what is good for your company and your career.

              and it might mean deciding to vaca-te your toxic workplace, lol

              1. HerdingCatsWouldBeEasier*

                This is such great insight. I was reading this more as the OP going ‘well, this is expected, and they need to just soldier on regardless’ and less as the OP going ‘I am having to go back to these hours and I am drowning’. They know the 100 hour weeks aren’t sustainable- but they’ve convinced themselves or been convinced the only way to make it possible for /anyone/ in the industry to work less than 100 hour weeks is to have a constant stream of new people who do.

                1. Academic Physician*

                  We did this 15 years ago in medicine. I heard all the same THERE IS NO WAY WE CAN DO THIS — THE SYSTEM WILL COLLAPSE!!! stuff.

                  Guess what — the system did not collapse. Can I rest on my laurels the way mid-career academic physicians could when we flogged the snot out of our juniors? No, I can not. I still think it was the right choice, and I do think we could improve further.

                2. Calamity Janine*


                  and sometimes, you can say “systemic change is impossible for me to manage”… but then follow that up by prioritizing personal change.

                  the personal change of not being yet another dead horse on the floor, worked to death and being flogged for not getting up to work yet more, is still change! and it’s change that OP deserves to consider! OP is also valuable as an individual – it’s not just about the glory of the company forever and ever.

                  that’s what i keep getting flustered over. and honestly what really worries me for OP.

                  please know you’re also okay to be prioritized as an individual, Vaca. not only can you do this, but you should! it’s okay to not fix the industry’s ills. it’s okay to make the choice you do have – and not stick around to become another victim of the industry.

              2. Not So NewReader*

                Why is your own misery so apparent to you, but you cannot see that other people are having a similar experience? This is what extreme fatigue does, it takes away our ability to think logically.

                Ya know. Years ago I started out waiting tables. I had a real “power through it all” mindset. I ended up jealous/angry/upset with people who said, “I am not going to work this hard, for so little money and be treated like dog crap.”

                OP! They were RIGHT! I had no perspective or sense of what was reasonable. It was ME who was off base, NOT the people who had the audacity to seek something better!

                We go toward what we believe. I believed that if I just pushed a little harder, I’d be okay, my work was sustainable. (False belief) Once I changed that belief to I believed there was something better for me, then my work life and life in general got better.

                I remember a friend stunned me. She said that in high school she hung out in the guidance office. She did odd jobs for them and chatted with the counselors. The reason she did this was because she believed that she could find something better and she wanted to put herself in a place where she would find it. Dang. I wish I was that put together in high school. But it’s never to late to learn this lesson.

            7. Liz*

              OP, I’ve worked in a similar industry. You really need to take a step back and realise thar you’ve drunk the kool-aid. These demands are not client-driven. The most talented graduates are not the ones who perform well in this dysfunctional environment. Your picking up extra work does the graduates no favours and will not be recognised by the partners – in fact, it’s likely to lead to your being sidelined for promotion and potentially retrenched. It’s time to take yourself to somewhere that values your talents, not just your willingness to work yourself into the ground.

          2. boo bot*

            Yeah, I am also curious about this. I believe the OP that they’re doing what they can, but I can’t really think of anything that would make this sustainable!

        8. Rainy*

          The thing is…you’re clearly not making this model sustainable. It’s not happening. You and your colleagues accept this lifestyle as a given, but the next group of professionals in your field are clearly not accepting it. The people who are trying to make it work for two years so they can then slow down are finding it unsustainable, or they wouldn’t be leaving.

          Things are changing, whether you like it or not. Trying to lock people into employment contracts that specify absurd punishments if they fail to do what basically everyone you hire is demonstrably failing to do is just going to end up with the pragmatic candidates laughing in your face and everyone else *still* quitting but now ghosting you entirely or getting a lawyer when you try to enforce those punishments.

        9. StellaBella*

          Vaca – I live and work in Europe. This is abusive and labour laws here would never have this – this is exploitation. If this was asked of people in several of the countries there would be riots. Workers here have strikes and riots over a lot. of right issues. Hired 3x the staff of juniors and give them work life balance and decent pay and an actual reward at the end of the two years – a paid month off, then a bump in salary for a permanent job. Also assuming you have this, get rid of the system of commissions you are relying on from the clients too and invest in your workers.

          1. TechWorker*

            I also live in Europe and the European working time directive is opt out. I am 100% certain there are companies this bad in London and very likely in a lot of other (though probably not all) European cities too.

            1. londonedit*

              Yep, every job I’ve had has asked me to opt out of the Working Time Directive. Luckily in my industry people aren’t routinely expected to work beyond their contracted hours (usually 35 or 37.5) but we’re asked to opt out so that they can ask us to work overtime if necessary. There are absolutely firms in the City with working practices just like the OP describes – I said above that I knew of a lawyer who worked for a City firm that would lay on taxis to take people home in the early hours of the morning, wait for them to shower and change, and bring them straight back to the office. I’ve also had friends working for companies where pizza would be laid on at 9pm and the expectation was that everyone would be there until at least 10. People would compete to send the first email in the morning and the last one at night so the boss would know they were still working until midnight and back on it again by 5am.

          2. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

            This is abusive and labour laws here would never have this

            100% false. I’ve worked in the City of London, and the hours are basically the same as on Wall Street. In Asia, they’re marginally worse.

        10. TechWorker*

          So make it explicitly shift driven and have a 7am-5pm shift and a 4pm-2am shift. No-one does good work at the end of a 14 hour day.

        11. KDT*

          I work in consulting. Every project I work on, I estimate hours and estimate delivery time based on 6 hour days. I’ve occasionally worked crazy hours trying to figure out something (software development). But if the client wants it sooner and we don’t have the resources to add people. They have only two choices – accept the date given or reduce scope.

          Yes our compensation for working *40-45* hours is in the same range for *mid level* consultants. Seniors make more.

        12. EPLawyer*

          But why does the presentation have to be done by tomorrow morning? Has anyone, I dunno, tried to manage client expectations? Hey client you want that presentation done well and not by sleep deprived crazy people who will make mistakes, we need 3 days lead time.

          The clients need to learn that you are not available 24/7. They will live, really. But as long as you feed the belief that you are, they will continue to expect you to be.

          Now some jobs have to have people available 24/7 or people die. But you know what they have SHIFTS. Not the same people working insane hours. I hate to break it to you but your industry is not vital to life. Everyone will be jsut fine if you cut back the hours or go to shifts or something. NO ONE will die if the presentation is not done by tomorrow. Oh they will just find someone who will? Apparently not if people are quiting rather than continuing.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I worked a lot of retail and the saying I heard so much was “control your customer!”.

            “No, I will not check the fluid levels on your vehicle after I pack your purchases into your car! Just NO!”

            1. Koalafied*

              I’m also fond of the reminder that “saying ‘no’ makes your ‘yes’ more valuable and more powerful.” The person who never pushes back gets all their efforts taken for granted – “Of course Millie will jump as high as we want her to, that’s what Millie does and has always done, why would I ever have reason to doubt she can do anything I ask when to date, that has always been true,” vs, “everyone wants Millie’s help because she’s that good, so we only have a few hours of her time – make sure you’ve prepared your questions for her ahead of time so we can get the most value out of that time.”

        13. Wendy Darling*

          I mean, what if NO ONE could turn the presentation around for tomorrow morning? Then your clients would have to suck it up and learn to plan ahead like the rest of the world.

          Because that’s the way this is heading. You can’t keep employees doing things the way you’re doing them now. Your competitors almost certainly can’t either. At some point the bottom is going to fall out of this “just kill the juniors with overwork for 2 years so clients don’t have to learn delayed gratification” model.

          You claim you don’t have any power to make this better, but you kind of do — you can shout up the chain about why turnover is so high. You can push back on unreasonable demands from clients. You can vote with your feet and find a workplace that doesn’t treat people this way. If you try to manipulate juniors into putting up with horrible conditions you’re part of the problem and I think you know it.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            If the clients are that fragile that they would leave over something like this, they were never your clients to begin with.

            As a homeowner, I have learned who in my area is good at what they do. I call them. They tell me, “I am available in two weeks.” I wait. And that is because I know for a fact that once they get here my concern will be permanently solved. I won’t have this particular concern again. So waiting is okay, I will still call them the next time I have an issue.

          2. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

            Then your clients would have to suck it up and learn to plan ahead like the rest of the world.

            With due respect, clients in most industries aren’t doing $400 million deals.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              So? This is not in any way relevant to anything I said.

              Skip me with your rise-and-grind apologia. I don’t care how much money is involved in the deals. There is no valid excuse for that level of urgency that doesn’t involve nuclear weapons.

            2. yikes*

              Lol do you think that anyone outside of your little club of capital-worshippers finds that impressive?

        14. lunchtime caller*

          The only thing I can recommend is, coincidentally, what I have recently been hired to do for an IB firm, which is to outsource anything an admin or assistant can do ASAP. On my side I get paid extremely well for the kind of admin work I’m doing, so they can attract someone with the years of experience I have doing it, and on their side I’m immediately freeing up the hours of someone considerably more expensive than me. Especially in New York (assuming that’s where you are, but applicable to any major city) you can get career admin people who are used to working with big execs, who probably do all that stuff better and faster than your IB trained people anyway, since I assume their training is mainly in finance and NOT in lightning fast itineraries/bookings/presentations/etc. Once your junior people are looking at 70-80 hours instead, their feelings might change dramatically!

        15. AJoftheInternet*

          OP, I just want to say I’ve seen you around in the comments and you’re doing a great job keeping your head and not getting defensive or (visibly) upset. I’m sorry your industry is broken. That’s an awful place to be in.

          When I’m pitching to clients, what I’m pitching isn’t the core benefits of my job, because they already know those. I’m pitching why it’s best to work for me specifically. Is there any leeway you have in alluring workers with the benefits of your specific bank, or the long-term goals that aren’t financial that they can look forward to?

        16. Observer*

          I see a lot of this and I can say, definitively, it is *not* true.

          Stockholm syndrome?

          It could be that *you* cannot change it. But it IS changeable.

          And regardless, the right answer to your problem is NOT being more punitive. You can’t punish people into doing more than they can do. And you (I hope!) don’t want to punish people into doing illegal things to manage to do what you want them to – if you don’t know how many young people in your field use drugs to make it through, you need to get more air.

          The answer to your question is to recognize that the model is fundamentally broken. Your industry needs to adapt or it WILL be forced into change. Or you could look for a change of industry.

      2. rl09*

        “(And they’re going to mostly be men.)”

        This is such a good point. I saw a comment down below about how the high salary doesn’t go as far if you have to outsource everything else in your life. And I started mentally calculating the cost of a housekeeper/maid, a live-in nanny, eating-out/ordering-in every meal, etc.

        But then I thought….Or, they could just have a stay-at-home-wife. And that’s probably exactly what the schedule was designed for: men who have a stay-at-home-spouse. (Which is bad for many reasons, but also because you’re going to end up losing most of the women on your team if they ever have kids. I’m willing to bet this company hires some women at the entry level…but then somehow everyone in management is a man.)

        1. lostclone*

          Honestly, I’m pretty sure I would be heavily looking into divorce if my husband told me he wanted me to be his maid-cook-life organiser and, btw, I was only ever going to see him for maybe two hours a day for the rest of his working life. And also he’d be tired and grumpy when I did see him.

          That is to say – a lot of spouses just aren’t putting up with this kind of stuff anymore – which is a good thing, but not great for employers expecting 100 hour weeks.

          1. UKDancer*

            Definitely. The number of women who do the “stay at home and run husband’s life” thing is a lot less than was historically the case. Most of the time women expect their partners to take an equal role as a partner and co-parent and want a career of their own.

          2. Mellow Yellow*

            I nearly called off my engagement to my now-husband when his job started demanding unreasonable hours. And we’re talking 80 hour work weeks, not 100 like OP! I told him I refused to be married to someone I never saw.

        2. PT*

          This job is for kids just out of college. These are people who share a studio apartment in Manhattan with a wall down the middle because they’re never home. They aren’t married or have kids, they have no significant others, they’re probably don’t date beyond Tinder hookups and any groupies they managed to get while flashing money like jerks in very trendy nightclubs.

          Then yeah, if you get into the upper echelons of the company you start getting into the Devil Wears Prada/Nanny Diaries type lifestyle. Which is why those books/movies are all written involving people who live in a very specific square of Manhattan. They’re all about (mocking) the very small subset of people whose very unusual lives are built around this very unusal industry.

          1. rl09*

            Right, but isn’t the goal of the program to have well-trained staff that stay long-term? They won’t be “kids just out of college” forever, eventually most of them will start to have obligations outside of work. At which point, this job is only going to be sustainable for men who live a very old-school 1950s lifestyle.

            1. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

              Right, but isn’t the goal of the program to have well-trained staff that stay long-term?

              No — that’s precisely the point. Professional services firms, including banks, *depend* on churn. In the case of banks, the assumption is that analysts will leave after two, possibly three, years. Many of them go to top MBA programs, and the banks may want to hire them back as associates (who have better working hours than analysts). Others go straight to the buy side, or to corporates, or startups, etc.

        3. Lily of the Meadow*

          But how long would most stay at home wives put up with this insane schedule themselves? How many wives and/or partners of these junior executives want to live as, essentially, single people who have someone else pay the bills that they never see and with whom they never interact? I cannot think most people would stay for very long in a relationship like this; I know I wouldn’t, and I am one of the most introverted people I have ever met.

      3. DJ Abbott*

        This rings a bell! It’s the exact same technique as an abusive relationship. I’m sure you all have read, as I have, about how an abuser isolates their abusee from their friends and family and runs over their boundaries and controls their life. This sounds much the same.

    8. Katie*

      You can “make it clear to them” perfectly, and they could very well think they could do it or that the money would make it worth it, but the reality will always win out. They can’t do it, and very few people could, or should.

    9. Mental Lentil*

      Yeah, this is nuts. If this pays $250k, then hire two people, have them work a 50-hour, six day week, and pay them $125k.

      This is so damn simple, but again, this is one of those toxic “company culture” or “industry norm” standards.

      100 hour weeks is just plain stupid when this is so easy to fix.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        It’s not quite that easy because of benefits, IT resources, office space, taxes, etc. – companies pay a lot more than just the salary in order to employ someone. Contractors typically get paid 30% more than employees just to cover the taxes and benefits pieces.

        But yeah, cut hours and pay and hire more people.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          But since training always costs money, they’re not recouping any of that if people leave once they’re finally making money for the company. Hiring more people ultimately IS a cost-saving measure.

          And it would probably increase quality & cut down on errors. Nobody is at their best when they’re overworked, overtired, & overwhelmed.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            Yeah, if you can increase retention then it’s definitely a good financial move. I just see a lot of people in the comments doing the math on the salary and number of people and hours per week per person, and wanted to point out that it’s not quite that straightforward.

            Fortunately OP works in an industry where someone ought to be able to come up with a model on the costs and productivity and retention and forecast out some scenarios…

      2. Goldenrod*

        “Yeah, this is nuts. If this pays $250k, then hire two people, have them work a 50-hour, six day week, and pay them $125k.”


    10. Pants*

      Sounds like a tax firm to me. You could not pay me enough money to go back to tax, simply because of the hours. No one should have to buy underwear and have it shipped to the office because they can’t find time to do laundry.

        1. Pants*

          I thought about that after I posted. It worked out to 6 to 9 months a year, depending on the size of your team. It was still absolute hell. I’d rather go back to waiting tables.

        1. Pants*

          You’re absolutely right.

          And it’s terrifying that tax is light by comparison. Tax is a living hell. Capital Markets therefore must be inside Satan’s anus.

      1. Leah K.*

        Definitely not a tax firm. Those guys might be working 100 hour weeks, but usually only during “busy season”. And they don’t get paid nearly as much.

    11. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. One thing this pandemic has highlighted for a lot of people is what their real breaking point is with their job and how much or little wealth matters. Quality of life balance seems to be a big tipping point. Will they get yelled at by customers? Feel unsafe? Work terrible hours? Complaining about people leaving and saying “that’s just the way it is” isn’t really figuring out root cause. Seems that a bump in salary isn’t enough for in-demand workers to stay and kill themselves. I agree with the suggestion to lower the salary, hire more people, and give them a better work/life balance. There’s no amount of money anyone could pay me to work 100 hrs ever, especially now with a family. You admit upfront they are overworked. Maybe it’s time to change that before the next round of interviews.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        And also, most people just don’t do their best work if they’re working more than 50-60 hours a week and not getting much sleep or time to relax. (I work 12+ hour days to coordinate events, but that’s for 1 week a year and then it’s over.)
        Unfortunately, it sounds like the OP doesn’t have much ability to change their company or industry culture, so they will likely be stuck with this crappy system. And the people who think it’s a good idea will cling to it even though it causes deaths. Some senior doctors here in the UK were complaining a few years back when junior doctors were trying to negotiate their hours down from (I think) 100-hour weeks, even though that kind of schedule has to have an impact on patient safety, not to mention staff mental health

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          The residency system has come under fire in the US, too. Even if you don’t care about the doctors’ health, it can’t be doing any favors for patient care. (FTR – I want all to be healthy.)

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Yes, I was just reading a comment further down this thread mentioning how the US medical residency system was invented by a doctor who was a cocaine and morphine addict (both legal back then.) And yeah, I don’t want anyone who is working a 100-hour week coming near me with a needle.

            1. Momma Bear*

              Same. There are a lot of industries where the work hours are unsafe. I don’t want that truck driver not stopping for sleep or bathroom breaks, either.

            2. Wendy Darling*

              One time I said I’d prefer that the doctor treating me not be someone who’s been working for the last 23 hours straight and someone well-actually-ed me to tell me that doctors are actually MORE SAFE if they work longer hours.

              Last time I worked that long I started hallucinating sheep, so I was and remain unconvinced.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I feel like the real headline of this letter should be “How do we force junior staff to continue accepting our well paid for abuse”

    12. freddy*

      Oh my god, there is nothing, NOTHING, N.O.T.H.I.N.G. on the planet that would be worth that kind of work load to me. When she said “grueling hours” I assumed 60 hours/week, which is bad enough! Holy crap, I can’t believe anyone ever agreed to this. Is this what crippling student debt forces people to agree to?

      I need to take a shower and a walk to shake off my visceral reaction to this letter.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s the new indentured servant. Better make big bucks and stash it, gonna need it for those medical bills later on in life.
        My husband’s out of pocket for THREE months was 20k. Project that out, it would have been 80k per yr if he lived.
        The internal damage from living and working like this impacts us for the rest of our lives. And companies whine about health care costs, how odd.

    13. Boof*

      Not saying it was great, but medical residency – 80+ hr weeks, 50K pay, 2-3 weeks vacation, for 3 years. Admittedly 1 day off a week, usually, 3 weeks per month.
      Not sure exactly what’s going on but yes OP, find the root of the problem. Are people leaving because the money’s just not worth it? Is the environment toxic? Is there so little protected off time to sleep/exercise that people realize doing this for 2 years is actually going to be really bad for them? (like, are they on call and usually getting woken up q2 hrs even when not officially in “the office”?) I don’t actually know exactly what this program is and if it’s better solved by spreading 2 years into 3 years, reducing the wage, and hiring that many more people, or if it’s the sort of thing that yeah, people would be willing to do the work except they way you try to do it is untennable (again, atmosphere too toxic, what down time there is isn’t actually protected, etc) but there are ways and there are ways. Agree with Allison that just making it more punitive is most likely just going to drop your pool of excellent candidates.

      1. Elizabeth I*

        Well, medical residencies are also known for being abusive. And frankly, bad for patient care: I don’t want someone who’s been working 36 hours straight to treat me in an emergency! That’s absurd.

        1. Worldwalker*

          Or not in an emergency.

          Is that *really* the filter we want for our prospective doctors? Not medical knowledge, not skill, not bedside manner, not maximal patient outcomes … but tolerance for lack of sleep? Is that really giving us the best doctors?

          When I was younger and stupider, I could pull two all-nighters in a row. At the end of which I would take 3x as long as normal to complete simple tasks, because I was just so fried. That is not the condition I want my doctor (or my accountant, or my lawyer) to be in.

        1. Nesprin*

          I posted above- residents are now capped at 80hrs/week, after 100hrs/week being the norm. The changeover was met with much doom and gloom, but turned out to be fine.

        2. Boof*

          I’m not saying it was a good thing, but when I did it, 80 hrs a week was the IN HOSPITAL time… and I usually took more home but only reported the “in hospital time”. I’m going to guess it might have pushed 100hrs/week many weeks though I wasn’t really counting. I did know what I was signing up for, and in some ways there’s no comparison to just seeing/doing a whole lot, but I do think there are better models and residencies out there. But my objections are less about the actual hours, which in some ways were very valuable in learning things that you just have to see/do to understand, and more about that kind of baggage that tends to come with the programs like that (not enough time spent on principles / overviews, once I couldn’t call in sick when I was actively fevering and coughing my lungs out because “coverage is already covering maternity leave” — I mean what? That’s… not an unexpected thing, etc)

    14. Artemesia*

      And I did it — so it’s the right way. Reminds me of doctors who think it is fine to run interns ragged (who then are likely to kill me at 3 am by mistake) because that’s the way they came up. And this is for a business that arguably adds little value to the world unlike medicine.

      I know a couple of young people in my extended family who quit after a year of those 100 hour weeks. They moved on to very lucrative jobs where they work hard, are very successful and yet have had time to date, marry, have kids and be happy. Time to rethink a business model that depends on hazing juniors.

    15. S*

      Yup. OP is running up against actual physical limitations. It’s not that his new hires are lazy or awful, it’s that it’s physically hard for people to be able to handle those hours, and the trade-off is no longer worth the damage to the people doing it. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess they also have terrible gender imbalances because they have no flexibility and it turns out that pregnancy and 100-hour weeks don’t actually work for most people.

      As an economist, I can tell you that your solution is almost certainly what Alison suggests–maintain your per-hour compensation but spread it among more associates. My brother in BigLaw tells me that means it will take far longer to get associates up to snuff, but your attrition is already costing you a *lot* of training and recruiting cost, so why not try to reduce your people’s workload by 30% and expect that it’ll take 30% longer for them to achieve the level of ability you’re looking for? Make this a 30 month program instead of 24 months. The relative worklife balance (70 hours a week, yikes) is a perk among the population you’re recruiting, and if you end up with too much retention, rebalance to 80 hours and see how that goes for you.

      1. PenName*

        I’d be willing to bet it wouldn’t take that much longer to get them up to snuff. After so many hours working continuously, the brain is not working optimally. It’s like when you’re having difficulty doing a problem and stop and rest. Then when you restart, it’s so much easier because you’re rested. How much can a person really retain working that many hours?

    16. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Truthfully, if you cut the salary but hired more people you’d probably end up with less turnover…

    17. a tester, not a developer*

      Even $137,500 for 50 hour weeks, working one day of every weekend for two years, would still not be appealing to me, but I’m old and have a kid. As a junior employee, that sounds pretty sweet.

    18. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, I’d like to make more than I do but I’d happily make considerably less than $200k a year to never, ever, have to work those kinds of hours.

    19. INFJedi*

      7 days = 168 hours!
      Working 100h of those 168 is way over the top! It means no downtime to just watch some television, no hobby(‘s), no social life, no family life,… just work and sleep (and probably a lot of the paycheck that goes to take-out food as well). This is so not healthy.

      In fact, doing this for 2 years will shorten one’s life drasticly.

      LW: people don’t just live to work, people work so that they can have nice lives. The job you’re offering is not it!

    20. Federal Worker Drone*

      Right? Shift work, people. it’s a thing. It works. Doctors are highly paid professionals and many of them work shift work in their early years of practice. Cut your work week by 60%.

      Good lord, that’s insane.

    21. EngineerMom*

      Exactly! This is more than 2 complete full-time positions, not 1 person working these kinds of crazy hours.

      And kudos to Alison for calling the OP out on the crap-tastic “well, this is how it was when *I* was coming up through the ranks!”

      Just because something has worked a certain way doesn’t mean you have to continue that method, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S TOTALLY SHITTY.

    22. Amethystmoon*

      Right? I have to wonder if the company only hires atheists, since no religious people will ever be able to attend their services. Better not have a baby or get sick either, I am betting.

    23. Rainy Day*

      Is my company asking too much of people, which is why they won’t stay?

      No, it’s the junior staff who are wrong.

  2. FionasHuman*

    Or simply re-train your clients not to expect weekend and evening hours? If your industry isn’t emergency room medicine, firefighting, or anything else where individuals’ lives may be hanging in the balance…there is no job that is more important than a person’s quality of life. And no matter how good the pay, the fact is that each hour we spend doing anything is gone forever. I’m going to be 100 hours closer to the day I die whether I spend that time in ways that are meaningful to me, or spend it making the owners of your company richer. Guess what I’d choose every time?

    1. Cat Lover*

      Even with emergency stuff, times are changing.

      I’m an EMT and we recently switched to a new 24 hour staffing type schedule, and it’s been brutal, especially on firefighters (there are less released firefighters than there are EMTs/Medics/etc). There is amazing PTO, but it’s not worth it to a lot of people. People are leaving for the next county over who have better scheduling.

      1. FionasHuman*

        You’re right; I should have worded my post better. Because of course workers in emergency-related occupations should be afforded reasonable work-life balance as well. The idea that a company that isn’t involved in life-or-death level work feels it can require those kinds of hours, though, is particularly appalling — I mean, who bloody cares if the client has to wait until Monday, or if the shareholders see a few dollars less value?

        1. Cat Lover*

          Oh, I agree!

          EMS (emergency med. service) obviously need 24 staffing and that makes it super hard on workers, but we (as EMS workers) know that it’s necessary, and we chose this profession. Same with nurses, doctors, etc.

          Letters like this make me go ???? Like, why does banking off all things need 100 hour weeks?

          1. FionasHuman*

            My guess is that banking “needs” these hours because the rich in this country are used to everyone else bending over backwards and kissing our behinds for them.

          2. Andy*

            So I will go there. The 24 hours shifts are choice by management. It is not something necessary. And sleep deprivation affects doctors, nurses, etc all the same as other people.

          3. DJ Abbott*

            There’s another reason – working this way is exciting! Oh the adrenaline, the urgency, the sense of purpose! I spent over enough time around this as a temp in the 90s to pick up on that. It didn’t have to be that way, but it was/is for the excitement.
            If you make it to upper level management, you’re treated like a king. All your meals in restaurants. All your life stuff taken care of for you by the administrative staff. You can come and go as you please for haircuts, doctor appointments, etc.
            All this looks good to young people who want adventure and success. At least, it used to.

    2. Jackalope*

      Or alternatively, have people work different shifts. If it’s 100% necessary to cover evenings and weekends, then hire people who have 5 day work weeks Tues-Sat or Sun-Thurs as well as M-F shifts. Have an early shift, swing shift, and night shift. Something like that if you’re sure the hours need to be covered so that people can work a reasonable number of hours but business needs will still be met.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        Yes, exactly. I work at a facility that is open literally every day of the year in some capacity. We all work normal 40 hour weeks. We just have staggered schedules… one person works Mon-Fri, another Wed-Sun, a third Fri-Tues, etc.

        1. caps22*

          Definitely do the staggered schedules. I am in a field notorious for crazy hours (law), and realistically there isn’t a way to simply adjust client expectations since they’re being driven by other factors often out of their control, such as statutory requirements. I’ve been on both sides of the counsel fence, internal and external, and there is no short term fix to the crazy hours requirement. However, I’m 100% supportive of working as teams to enable a better work life balance. Now that I’m internal, I always ask for my external counsel to have a team or at least a designated back up so that when the primary attorney is unavailable, the secondary can take over smoothly. Less stress for everyone, and hopefully a better work life balance for counsel. Now for me, OTOH, I’m still trying to convince my boss to hire someone to support me!

      2. A Penguin of Ill Repute*

        When I worked at an Amazon warehouse (over a decade ago, things there seemed pretty good compared to the horror stories you hear in more recent years) we had four ten-hour days each. Some people worked Sunday to Wednesday, some people worked Wednesday to Saturday, and I was one of the lucky ones to work Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday off, work Thursday and Friday, weekend off. We called it the donut shift for that hole in the middle.

      3. Parakeet*

        Right. There’s one particular function of my org that runs 24/7. Full-time staff cover it on weekdays, with one person whose job it is to cover it on weeknights. Volunteers (like I used to be before I was staff) cover it on weekday evenings. Part-timers cover it on weekends. If someone has an emergency and nobody else among the front-line staff is available to cover the shift, whichever supervisor or director is on “backup” duty that week covers it. Nobody has to work ridiculous numbers of hours (and indeed, the front-line staff are non-exempt, so we couldn’t anyway unless the org wanted to pay overtime).

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      This. How do you get there?

      1) Pare your client list. If they always want evenings / weekend services, charge them more. Some will drop out or switch their preferences to business hours.
      2) Analyze what kinds of requests are coming in evenings / weekends. Deal with them by:
      * Having an evenings / weekends team specifically trained in those requests.
      * Building tools to let clients do stuff themselves, even if it’s just visibility.

      If you’re smart enough for the big bucks, you’re smart enough to analyze your assumptions, especially the one that says ‘it must always be this way, and money makes it worthwhile.’

      1. US expat soon-to-return to Asia!*

        1) Pare your client list. If they always want evenings / weekend services, charge them more.

        That’s not how banks get compensated. They most take a percentage of deal size.

          1. US Expat Soon-To-Return to Asia!*

            Great. And why would the client would pick your boutique bank to run its IPO for 8% of gross proceeds when JP Morgan offers 7%?

    4. SleepyKitten*

      This is good advice, but given the industry they might be hamstrung by international exchanges only being open outside of US office hours.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yeah I was thinking they have international clients too. But they can easily just hire people do separate shifts.

  3. I Faught the Law*

    It’s almost like huge amounts of money aren’t enough to make up for having an otherwise crappy life.

      1. Metadata minion*

        Yeah, I could *maybe* see doing that sort of job for as much as a year if I had massive debt or something, but it would absolutely be with the intention of making enough money to fill my immediate need and then going back to something that wasn’t soul-sucking.

      2. AnonInCanada*

        But think of all the money you’ll be leaving your relatives after you die from exhaustion! That’s worth working all those hours for, isn’t it? /s