That burnt out feeling
Only 30? And feeling all washed out? SUDHA UMASHANKER on the impact of high pressure jobs
PAY AND THE PRICE Long hours at the computer affect your health
For most young men and women today, the nine-to-five job simply does not exist. Workdays begin early in the morning and extend late into the evening. At the workplace, pressures are high, deadlines unrealistic and jobs tedious, involving constant mental work and long hours at the computer. Needless to add that all this takes a heavy toll on one's physical and mental health. So burnt out are many of these thirty somethings that they contemplate retirement much before the stipulated age.
Anand, a software professional, says, "We are forced to do a lot more work in much less time. In their anxiety to garner more business, sales personnel commit themselves to tough deadlines (software people don't have a say in the schedule). They promise to do a job that takes four days to complete in two days."
Drop in quality
Two factors that indirectly contribute to the burnout are the perceptible drop in the quality of graduates from our colleges and companies hiring them en masse.
Anand notes, "Companies believe that if candidates are assessed for their ability to learn and adapt and are trained accordingly, they will be ready for the job in no time. But the fact is this does not happen." Raghu, Project Manager in a software company, observes, "I find many youngsters experiencing burn-out because their incompetence makes them double their efforts in the hope it will help them achieve what they want to. If they update their knowledge early on and keep abreast of the latest technology, they will have an edge."
Sharon, who works in a BPO, says, "In BPOs (Business Process Outsourcing units) and KPOs (Knowledge Process Outsourcing units), there is a lot of pressure to prove that we are as good as the employees in the home countries which are hostile to outsourcing."
Stressful jobs seem to be the rule rather than the exception. A. Sudhakar, Managing Director, Stepstone India, says, "There is a high level of stress in almost every kind of job today. In the voice-based industries, you are constantly surrounded by ringing phones and are monitored so closely that you can hardly leave your seat for any reason. You can work like that for a few weeks, but how long can you tolerate such a work atmosphere? In the non-voice-based industries, you work at the computer for hours on end. As for sales personnel, the targets are continuously raised. Those in Customer Service have to contend with irate customers most of the time."
With almost all the work being done online in many offices, there is a lot of strain on the eyes, back, neck, wrists and other parts of the body. Says Raghu: "Although doctors advise taking a break from looking at the computer every 20 minutes, it's not possible once you get involved in an assignment. To reduce the glare to a comfortable level, many reduce the brightness of the screen, making it totally dim by the end of the day."
Given the space crunch in the city, several companies are relocating to places on the outskirts as a result of which commuting takes up a great deal of employees' time.
Says Anand: "I leave home at 6.30 a.m. and, on a normal day, return by 8.30 p.m. Only if companies set up satellite townships can the problem be solved, as the employees can go home for a couple of hours during the day."
Will the situation improve? "There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, at least in the near future. It's a do or die situation. If you are not prepared to face it, there is always somebody else ready to grab the job," says A. Sudhakar
In such a scenario, it's time employees and employers took measures to ensure that our youngsters are fired with enthusiasm rather than suffer from burnout.
You need to have the right perspective on work and know what it takes to be successful.
Learn to deal with expectations of clients, and work within your limits.
If somebody wants to leave early, he should have the confidence to do so and manage relevant aspects of his work.
If you feel the pressure, talk to your superiors. People do understand.
Focus on work while at it and don't let it encroach upon time spent with family and friends.
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