Live to work, or work to live?
It seems that that consulting engineers have reached a breaking point. In the past month, I’ve had more conversations about long work hours, work-life balance, and employer demands than I have had in the past year. Engineers are still feeling the pressures of the recession, and their frustration is showing.
For example, initial results of our research show that the majority of our audience is working an average of 41 to 45 hours per week, but the total responses for the number of hours worked isn’t a true bell curve. Engineers are skewing toward working more than 45 hours per week, with an upward tick at around 56 to 60 hours per week. Though we don’t have full data yet on this particular research question, the responses aren’t a surprise to me. Every time I call, e-mail, or otherwise contact an engineer, I hear about extended work hours, trouble filling open positions at his or her company, and a general feeling of being spread too thin. One employer in Ohio, for example, lost one of his best employees because he couldn’t ensure a work-life balance for the new father.
Responses to the March 2014 opinion 2 More Minutes column “Demand what you’re worth” also have been telling. The author suggested that engineers lack self-esteem and fortitude to demand what they’re worth, and therefore don’t get the respect they deserve or get paid what they’re worth. He believes that “if engineers and the engineering profession want to gain more respect and a more prominent place in our society, they need to believe in themselves and demand the position.” Several comments were shared via the Consulting-Specifying Engineer LinkedIn group.
Douglas Evans, PE, FSFPE, fire protection engineer, Clark County Building Division, said:
David Lewis, technical/Cx project director, Clayco Inc., said:
Randall Keirns, PE, project engineer at Akron Engineering Bureau, said:
I agree. This field is pretty amazing. And more engineers are needed in so that everyone can achieve a balance.