NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Life isn’t as easy as you might think for the 1%, at least not the ones who work on Wall Street.
A recent study from Alexandra Michel, a researcher at the University of Southern California, finds that investment bankers run the risk of developing physical and mental health problems ranging from eating disorders to fits of rage due to the stress of forcing themselves to work incredibly long hours.
Michel tracked the working habits of employees at two investment banks and found that everyone put in more than 80 hours a week on the job and sometimes as much as 120 hours all just to try and get ahead, even though they were never explicitly told to do so. In fact, the lack of any predefined work hours or heavy supervision only encouraged these bankers to work longer and harder.
In one telling interview, a banker had the following exchange with Michel:
‘‘I could not work for an organization that required me to come at 9 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m. I want to be in control of my schedule.’’ When the researcher commented that the banker worked a lot longer than 40 hours a week, the banker replied, ‘‘Yes, but this is my choice. I decide when the work gets done.’’
While this work ethic may have helped the bankers to be more successful, it came at the price of their health. Bankers admitted to developing chronic pain, never-ending colds, anger management problems and nervous tics such as nail-biting. These employees managed to keep up this routine for the first three years at the banks, but starting in the fourth year, some saw their performance decline, particularly when it came to creative thinking.
As the study points out, bankers aren’t the only ones who work such long hours. Previous research has found that many higher-educated workers in professions such as software engineering and consulting choose to work up to 120 hours a week, whether or not they have to.
For those looking to move to a less stressful position, check out MainStreet’s roundup of 12 jobs with low stress and decent pay.
(Hat tip to @bradrtuttle for finding this study)