MONEY job search

Fortune 500 or Startup? How to Tell What Size Company is Right for You

what size company to work for
Craig Roberts—Gallery Stock

These are the six factors to consider when looking for your next gig, says career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine.

Size matters when it comes to finding a place to work that supports your career goals.

Of course, both big and small firms have advantages and disadvantages. A Fortune 500 company may have thousands of employees and monstrous bureaucracy, but great benefits and a lot of room for growth. On the other hand, at a start-up, the risks are higher, but the executive team knows the junior staff by name, you may have a chance to get a broader experience set, and you could be on the ground floor of tomorrow’s success story.

What’s tricky is that while company size does influence your career path, day-to-day role, and work environment, it isn’t the only factor.

And the generalizations above are not always true. A big company isn’t necessarily bureaucratic—it might have retained a collaborative, entrepreneurial culture. A small company isn’t inherently risky—maybe they offer you an upfront guarantee or they recently got funded.

Here are six career planning considerations that are influenced by size, and the pros and cons of small and large employers:

What Kinds of Resources Are Available

In general, big companies will have more resources.

This could mean more or better office supplies and equipment, professional development and training, benefits and pay, and a more comfortable work environment. This also means resources for your particular job—budget, direct reports, administrative support.

That said, it’s not necessarily true that small companies will have less (and big companies might be able to do more but be stingy), so try to get information about this during the hiring process. Ask pointed questions about, say, what your budget would be on certain projects, and do some research on sites like Glassdoor and using second- and third-degree LinkedIn connections who work or have worked at the company to find out the inside scoop.

What the Breadth of Your Responsibilities Will Be

Since big companies have more staff, it’s more likely the staff will have a more tightly defined (read: smaller) scope of responsibilities. This is a good thing if you want that structure.

But if you want variety and a chance to work across functions or touch a project from start to finish, a smaller company might be a better fit.

Again, size influences your scope but doesn’t determine it 100%. When you are interviewing, ask don’t assume what your responsibilities will be, whom you will be interacting with, and what decision-making authority you will have.

What Prospects for Advancement You’ll Have

Bigger companies have larger infrastructure, perhaps even more locations or industry areas where business is conducted. This typically means you have greater potential for internal mobility—the chance to move from the New York office to the London office, from serving financial services clients to media clients, from working in sales to working in marketing.

That said, small companies offer advancement via upward mobility. You take on more responsibility because you have to. While the small company may not have a London office to send you to, you may be asked to open one.

As you can see, big and small companies offer advancement opportunity. Ask about career growth specifically when you interview.

How Outsiders Will Perceive You

Small companies are typically less well-known than bigger companies. A brand name does convey advantages in introductions or on a résumé: When people glance at your C.V. and see you’re coming from Goldman Sachs (as opposed to Boutique Bank WHO?), they know what they’re dealing with.

That said, branding is more than a name. Some people hear big company and assume slow and not innovative.

And if your personal brand hinges on being seen as leading-edge or entrepreneurial, then a smaller company will be more consistent with your brand.

In addition, a company might be small but have big name clients. If you work for a small company that serves the Fortune 500 or other brand names, naming the clients is a way for you to get that pedigree on your résumé or in your pitch.

How Well You’ll Be Paid

Big companies can afford to pay more, but they might feel like they don’t have to because of their brand names and better resources.

Small companies might be limited on base salary but might offer equity participation or profit-sharing.

Compensation is tough to generalize. Don’t undersell yourself to a small company by assuming you need to take less. Don’t get overly aggressive with a big company and automatically negotiate for the top end of your range.

What Networking Opportunities You’ll Have

Big companies offer you more people to connect with, but those people are more dispersed, and you will have to be more proactive about reaching out.

Small companies offer fewer people to add to your network but it may be easier to get to know people and therefore build deeper connections.

As you interview, recognize there are advantages and disadvantages at both ends of the size spectrum. Focus on your day-to-day colleagues, senior leadership, and overall culture and how all of these fit with you, regardless of size.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart® career coaching. She has worked with professionals from American Express, Condé Nast, Gilt, Goldman Sachs, Google, McKinsey, and other leading firms. She’s also a stand-up comic.

Read more from Caroline Ceniza-Levine:

TIME work

U.N. Report: Women May Need ‘Different Treatment’ to Achieve Economic Equality

2015 International Women's Day March
Mark Sagliocco—Getty Images Assistant Secretary General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka attends the 2015 International Women's Day March at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City on March 8, 2015.

It's just like Sheryl Sandberg said: paid leave and affordable child care would help achieve gender equality on a global level

Equal opportunity is not enough to ensure gender equality, according to a groundbreaking new report from U.N. Women. Instead, governments must commit to social policies that treat women differently in order to help them achieve economic parity with men.

“We must go beyond creating equal opportunities to ensure equal outcomes,” the report says. “‘Different treatment’ may be required to achieve real equality in practice.” This report, called Progress of the World’s Women 2015–2016, is one of the first major international reports to acknowledge that legal equality for women does not translate into actual equality, and that governments must make substantial social-policy changes that enable the redistribution of domestic duties in order for women to play a truly equal role in society.

It’s the global version of what Sheryl Sandberg has been saying all along with Lean In — women will never be equal unless workplace policies adjust to fit their needs, and men need to step up to help at home. The report highlights the gap between the laws that protect equal rights for women and the realities of inequality in most of the world. The way to close that gap, according to the report, is by implementing social policies that provide paid work opportunities for women, protect domestic workers, provide affordable child care and establish paid leave for working mothers. Removing legal barriers to female employment is not enough, the report says, noting that “we also need measures that free up women’s time.”

“Governments should take actionable steps to reduce the burden of unpaid care work — which is carried by women — and create an industry of jobs and employment for services,” U.N. Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka tells TIME. “Child care is an issue in every country, but more often than not borne by mothers. Government policy should work to professionalize this industry as much as possible, and make it affordable and accessible to all.”

Lack of resources like these may explain why 77% of working-age men are in the global workforce, compared with only half of working-age women. Globally, women earn 24% less than men, yet do 2.5 times as much child care and domestic labor as men. In developing regions, 75% of women’s employment is insecure, unprotected and poorly paid, if they’re employed at all. Only 5% of women in South Asia have formal work, and only 11% in sub-Saharan Africa.

The U.N. is calling for more “decent work” for women, which they define as a job that is well paid, secure and “compatible with women’s and men’s shared responsibility” for children and housework. The report also says redistributing household duties is “critical” for achieving substantive equality worldwide.

Child care is the thorny problem that’s hampering women’s economic advancement, both at the individual level and on a global scale. Forty-four percent of mothers in poor countries raise their young children almost entirely on their own, compared with only 29% of mothers in rich countries. In poor countries, 18% of mothers entrust child care to a female child, while in rich countries, 15% of moms have hired help and 10% have access to organized child care or a nursery. The study found that in every country, women were less likely to work when they had small children, which helps contribute to the global pay gap.

And the income women lose can have repercussions throughout their lifetimes. Lack of money often translates into lack of control over their own health decisions: 69% of women in Senegal, 48% in Pakistan and 27% in Haiti say they do not make the final decisions about their own health care. And in most countries, women are less likely to receive pensions — in Egypt, 62% of men get pensions, compared with 8% of women. That’s partly because of legal constraints, but also because women have different labor patterns then men (i.e., they’re more likely to work in informal settings), they contribute less (because they’re paid less) and they live longer. That means women make up the majority of the 73% of the world’s population with little or no social protection in old age.

And all that income women are losing to child care or domestic work adds up to a lot of money. The time women spend on unpaid work amounts to 39% of India’s GDP, 31% of Nicaragua’s GDP and 10% of Argentina’s GDP. Gender equality and economic growth are like squares and rectangles: gender equality leads to economic growth, but growth doesn’t always lead to equality.

The need for paid leave and affordable child care is well-trod ground in North America and Europe, leading to charges that those kinds of social policies are more for rich women than for poor ones. But this report is one of the first to link female-friendly workplace policies like those to gender equality in the developing world. Rich or poor, policies that help working mothers help elevate all women.

TIME Careers

Women Earn 24% Less Than Men on Average, U.N. Report Finds

New report shows gender pay gap remains sizeable

Women are still earning significantly less money than men, despite working longer hours when paid and unpaid work is taken into account, a new U.N. report reveals.

The U.N. Women report shows that even though more women are in the workplace and taking on leadership positions worldwide, pay levels are nowhere near reaching equality worldwide. On average women around the world earn 24% less than men, the report says, and earn just half of the income men earn over a lifetime. Women in South Asia experience the greatest gender pay gap, earning 33% less than men. The Middle East and North Africa have a 14% pay gap.

Women do nearly 2½ times more unpaid and domestic work compared with men and are less likely to receive a pension. Only half of working-age women are in the workforce compared to three-fourths of working-age men.

As a solution, the report suggests creating an economy that prioritizes women’s needs. It provides 10 recommendations for governments and other key players to adopt, such as creating more and better jobs for women, reducing occupational segregation, and establishing benchmarks to assess progress in women’s economic and social rights.

TIME

There’s 1 Huge Downside to the Fastest Growing Jobs

TIME.com stock photos Money Dollar Bills
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

The economy is getting better, but there's a catch

Employment news is a mixed bag these days. First, the good news: There’s work. The unemployment rate is dropping, and a growing number of surveys indicate that companies plan to hire and even pay more.

But—and this is a big caveat—the jobs aren’t necessarily the ones you’d like to take, especially if you’re looking for a decent salary or prefer more sedentary employment. This is work work, where you’ll probably be on your feet and dealing with things that are hot, dirty or dangerous (or all three).

Credit.com analyzed a report put out by the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for low-wage workers, that breaks down how many people earn $15 an hour or less in a variety of low-wage jobs, then compared it to government projections for job growth through 2022. Unfortunately, a lot of the fastest-growing jobs are the ones that pay the least.

There’s plenty of opportunity — if not money — in the quote-unquote McJobs category. The NELP report finds that more than 400,000 people will join the nearly 2 million Americans with jobs in food preparation (including fast food), but the median hourly wage is only $9. Fewer than 12% of these workers see more than $15 an hour in their paychecks for jobs that often involve long hours on your feet over a hot stove or fryer. “As a result, many workers rely on public assistance to make ends meet,” NELP says.

But the plentiful-but-poor jobs go way beyond just flipping burgers. Right now, about 1.2 million people work as personal care aides, providing crucial assistance to elderly or disabled people. As baby boomers age, the number of people working these jobs will increase by almost 50%. It’s hard work dressing, bathing, making meals for and cleaning up after others, but that isn’t reflected in the pay. NELP finds that the median wage is only $10 an hour, and about 78% make less than $15 an hour. In a similar vein, the number of nursing assistants is expected to go up by more than 20%, but these workers make around $12 an hour at the median, even though they also do a lot of literal and figurative heavy lifting taking care of people.

In another recent study, WalletHub.com analyzed 109 entry-level jobs, most of which require at least some, if not extensive, post high-school education or certification, to pick out the best and the worst. The top 10 list is dominated by tech jobs, with a few number-crunching gigs (financial analyst, engineer) thrown in. In other words, even though these are entry-level jobs, applicants need both skills and degrees to break into this market.

On the flip side, there’s a much lower bar to entry for what WalletHub labels the worst jobs. Some are equally skilled, but you need to have a healthy respect for manual labor and a willingness to play with fire (literally — the bottom 10 list includes boilermaker and welder). Some of these wind up on the bottom not because of poor pay but because of the potentially dangerous working conditions. Others — like electronics assembler, sheet-metal mechanic and consumer loan servicing clerk — make the “worst” list because there are so few of these jobs out there. If you land one, great, but it’s not the type of thing you’d tell your kids to make their career path.

And finally, there are the worst jobs that wind up there because the pay is horrible or the potential for income growth is lousy, like certified nursing assistants, which fall in the bottom five on both counts of the WalletHub survey.

“A low wage can make it difficult for people to pay bills on time, keeping their credit reports free of collection accounts or other negatives… [and] managing day-to-day expenses in addition to paying down outstanding balances can be even more challenging,” Credit.com says.

TIME health

Sheryl Sandberg Explains Why Facebook Covers Egg-Freezing

The Davos World Economic Forum 2015
Chris Ratcliffe—Bloomberg/Getty Images Sheryl Sandberg, billionaire and chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., speaks during a session on day two of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.

"I talked about it with our head of HR, and said, 'God we should cover this'"

A Facebook employee with cancer inspired COO Sheryl Sandberg to create the company’s controversial egg-freezing policy, Sandberg said in an interview released Friday.

In a Bloomberg Television interview with Emily Chang, Sandberg explained the genesis of the policy that gives employees money to get their eggs frozen in order to delay childbirth.

“There’s a young woman working at Facebook who had got cancer, and I knew her and she came to me and said, ‘I’m going to go through the treatment, and that means I won’t be able to have children unless I can freeze my eggs, and I can’t afford it, but our medical care doesn’t cover it,'” Sandberg explained. “I talked about it with our head of HR, and said, ‘God we should cover this.’ And then we looked at each other and said, ‘Why would we only cover this for women with cancer, why wouldn’t we cover this more broadly?'”

Egg-freezing has been widely used to help women with cancer preserve their fertility after chemotherapy, but it’s increasingly being used by women who want to delay motherhood for non-medical reasons, like if they haven’t found the right partner or they want to focus on work. When Facebook and Apple announced in November that they would cover elective egg-freezing for their employees, some critics attacked the policies, saying the companies were essentially encouraging women to delay motherhood until it’s convenient for the company.

Virgin CEO Richard Branson doesn’t agree. “We at Virgin want to steal the idea and offer it to our women,” he told Bloomberg in the same interview. “Somebody said to me they got criticism…and I said, ‘How can anybody criticize them for doing that? It’s women’s choice.”

He has a personal reason for supporting egg-freezing policies. “My daughter just had two wonderful twins from eggs, and they wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the eggs,” he said.

[h/t Bloomberg]

TIME

How to Ace the Most Important Part of Your Job Interview

Handshake illustration
Anna Parini

You're a perfect fit for the job. But that doesn't mean you're definitely going to get it

We’ve all been there. You aced the job interview and your credentials are a perfect fit for the position. Now comes the hard part – the ‘beer test’ or the personality test, a casual chat over drinks or dinner meant to determine how well you will fit with an organization on a personal level. Since your resume can’t really capture what kind of person you are, both you and the interviewer are walking into an unknown situation with unpredictable results.

But despite the dangers of the process, it’s possible to pass the test with flying colors if you recognize the priorities of your potential employer and the questions they are really trying to answer:

What else are you good at other than work?

This may seem irrelevant to the job but it’s not. While serving on the board of a mid-sized radio group, I was tasked with identifying and hiring a new Chief Operating Officer. The leading candidate was a long-time consultant for media companies who checked all the technical boxes for the job. However, learning about her passion for composing music in her spare time and sailing gave me a sense of a well-rounded person who could not only manage the firm’s logistical operations but also liaison with the quirky radio personalities that were our bread and butter.

She got the job and was extremely successful at securing popular new radio hosts for us, many of whom enjoyed discussing her music with her more than audience ratings. She also organized a sailing outing for the firm, which was a hit with the employees. Revealing your outside interests can help your interviewer see the three-dimensional person you are and (maybe) tap into some of your hidden talents.

Are you socially adept?

There are two aspects to this. Some very smart and capable people are bad at social interaction. In some professions, such as medical research or back-office accounting, that might not matter. But in other jobs, such as in marketing, sales, or even general management, social skills are extremely important and can determine your ability to do your job. How well you engage with your interviewer during a beer test will show him or her how good you are at interpersonal communication.

In addition, your future employer may be trying to gauge if you know how to socialize with a work colleague, which is not necessarily the same as with your friends. When spending time with a colleague, you need to be aware of personal boundaries that would be dangerous to breach. You may not, for example, want to discuss the subject of dating, which a colleague might consider intrusive and which could cause problems in the work environment later. It also opens up the company to lawsuits.

Being friends with your co-workers without being too friendly isn’t easy but essential, especially in smaller organizations where socializing is inevitable. Too much closeness can lead to awkwardness, misunderstandings, and office gossip. When confronted with this type of challenge, your best bet is to show your acumen by using it – chat engagingly but casually, avoid sensitive topics, and show your interviewer that you know how to have a good time within boundaries.

Are you Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?

In vino veritas as the saying goes. In wine (or beer) there is truth. This is probably the single most important reason for employers to want to meet a candidate socially. We all put on our best face during official interviews, but from an employer’s standpoint that can be a problem. After all, no one wants to hire the polished Dr. Jekyll and wind up with the wild Mr. Hyde instead – especially in the age of social media where that picture of you dancing on a table with your shirt off can go viral.

A social outing tends to entice people to let their guard down. That’s totally fine, as long as you don’t let it too far down and maintain the same decorum you would with anyone you respect. Another vital thing to remember is that just because it’s called a beer test doesn’t mean that you have to overload on the beer. Whenever you’re around co-workers, it’s always best to moderate your drinking, and this is something a smart interviewer will watch for.

And if you’re a party animal who just can’t help himself, and manage to offend your potential employer with your behavior, then you may be better off working at a different company or in another profession.

Why do you really want the job?

When interviewing analyst candidates during my investment banking days, I would routinely receive canned answers to this question, but what I was really looking for was that spark of honesty that gave me confidence the candidate was truly motivated to work at the firm and would go that extra mile for his or her job.

In a beer test, the logic is that without the pressure of being in an interview room, a candidate will feel more comfortable giving a heartfelt answer to the question. If you’re in this position, keep in mind that there isn’t one ‘right’ answer. In some cases, the fact that you want to use the job as a stepping stone to some other career in the distant future is perfectly acceptable – as long as it’s clear to the employer that you’ve really thought about it and have a convincing motivation to excel at the job.

The problem arises when you really don’t have a compelling reason for wanting the job except for being unemployed at the time. If all you want is a paycheck and the job you’re interviewing for requires deep commitment, then the job may not be right for you. That’s a reason to take a step back, be honest with yourself as well as your future employer, and decide if you have a better reason for taking that job.

Great employees flourish in great jobs, but only if the two are compatible. The beer test is designed to determine this very intangible.

Sanjay Sanghoee is a business commentator. He has worked at investment banks Lazard Freres and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, at hedge fund Ramius Capital, and has an MBA from Columbia Business School.

TIME Economy

Low Wage Workers Are Storming the Barricades

Activists Hold Protest In Favor Of Raising Minimum Wage
Alex Wong—Getty Images Activists hold protest In favor of raising minimum wage on April 29, 2014 in Washington, DC.

A few weeks back, when Walmart announced plans to raise its starting pay to $9 per hour, I wrote a column saying this was just the beginning of what would be a growing movement around raising wages in America. Today marks a new high point in this struggle, with tens of thousands of workers set to join walkouts and protests in dozens of cities including New York, Chicago, LA, Oakland, Raleigh, Atlanta, Tampa and Boston, as part of the “Fight for $15” movement to raise the federal minimum wage.

This is big shakes in a country where people don’t take to the streets easily, even when they are toiling full-time for pay so low it forces them to take government subsidies to make ends meet, as is the case with many of the employees from fast food retail outlets like McDonalds and Walmart, as well as the home care aids, child caregivers, launderers, car washers and others who’ll be joining the protests.

It’s always been amazing to me that in a country where 42% of the population makes roughly $15 per hour, that more people weren’t already holding bullhorns, and I don’t mean just low-income workers. There’s something fundamentally off about the fact that corporate profits are at record highs in large part because labor’s share is so low, yet when low-income workers have to then apply for federal benefits, the true cost of those profits gets pushed back not to companies, but onto taxpayers, at a time when state debt levels are at record highs. Talk about an imbalanced economic model.

A higher federal minimum wage is inevitable, given that numerous states have already raised theirs and most economists and even many Right Wing politicos are increasingly in agreement that potential job destruction from a moderate increase in minimum wages is negligible. (See a good New York Times summary of that here.) Indeed, the pressure is now on presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton to come out in favor of a higher wage, given her pronouncement that she wants to be a “champion” for the average Joe.

But how will all this influence the inequality debate that will be front and center in the 2016 elections? And what will any of it really do for overall economic growth?

As much as wage hikes are needed to help people avoid working in poverty, the truth is that they won’t do much to move the needle on inequality, since most of the wealth divide has happened at the top end of the labor spectrum. There’s been a $9 trillion increase in household stock market wealth since 2008, most of which has accrued to the top quarter or so of the population that owns the majority of stocks. C-suite America in particular has benefitted, since executives take home the majority of their pay in stock (and thus have reason to do whatever it takes to manipulate stock price.)

Higher federal minimum wages are a good start, but it’s only one piece of the inequality puzzle. Boosting wages in a bigger way will also requiring changing the corporate model to reflect the fact that companies don’t exist only to enrich shareholders, but also workers and society at large, which is the way capitalism works in many other countries. German style worker councils would help balance things, as would a sliding capital gains tax for long versus short-term stock holdings, limits on corporate share buybacks and fiscal stimulus that boosted demand, and hopefully, wages. (For a fascinating back and forth on that topic between Larry Summers and Ben Bernanke, see Brookings’ website.)

Politicians are going to have to grapple with this in the election cycle, because as the latest round of wage protests makes clear, the issue isn’t going away anytime soon.

Read next: Target, Gap and Other Major Retailers Face Staffing Probe

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

MONEY workplace etiquette

The Phrase You Should Never Use In Your Office Voicemail Message

office phone
Johnny Greig—Alamy

"Not available" conveys to the caller that you're not interested in their business. Here's what to say instead.

How many times a day when you make a phone call do you get someone’s voicemail and hear, “I’m not available?”

What exactly does that mean?

The person could be powdering their nose for two minutes, gone to a client meeting for two hours, on maternity leave for six months—or, have been transferred to the mailroom in Beijing! You have no idea.

You had phoned for a reason: to get information, to place an order, to extend an invitation to meet, to do business. But now you hang up in disgust, your mission thwarted.

Now you have to invest time figuring out your next, hopefully productive, step. Do you check the web for their corporate number, another branch number, or simply find another “source” altogether, giving your business to a competitor? Perhaps with your time constraint you are forced to simply table your project.

If this were your business, you’d have just lost a customer.

Now it’s time to check your own voicemail.

With all of the competition out there and access to information at one’s fingertips on the web, people have untold choices when they need a real estate attorney, a construction engineer, an investment advisor, a party planner, a temp agency… or whatever it is you do.

If you want to build your business, you need to build relationships, and this requires showing respect for your caller’s time and energy.

“Not available” is simply dismissive. It communicates to the person that their need is not that important to you.

And it either causes your potential customer to hang up, or to get stuck going through an obstacle course in which they get the main switchboard and are given the third degree: “What’s your name? What’s your affiliation? Why are you calling? Whom do you want to speak with?

The alternative is simple: Provide in your voice message a phone number and refer the caller to an assistant, a colleague, a cell number—any way of expediting their quest. Help your caller to reach someone who can, in your absence, be helpful and succeed in keeping the business.

And remember to update your voicemail message when appropriate. Recently I called an office and heard: “I’ll be back February 1st.” It happened to be March 17th!

Investing a mere 60 seconds can keep a client and their business while enhancing your reputation.

Arlene B. Isaacs is an executive coach in New York City.

MONEY Workplace

Why Checking Email After Work Is Bad for Your Career—and Your Health

Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: Should I check work email outside of normal business hours?

A: The availability of smartphones and tablets has made it easy and common to check email anytime, anywhere: 59% of American workers say they use their mobile devices to do work after normal business hours, according to a recent Workplace Options survey.

But that convenience comes at a price. Checking email constantly can lead to burnout and health problems, says Dean Debnam, chief executive officer of Workplace Options, which provides employees with work-life balance support services.

Whether you should check work email regularly depends on your personal preference as well as your company culture, Debnam says. For many, the ability to field email anytime, anywhere is a good thing. It can free you from long hours in the office and enable you to respond quickly to important or urgent issues. You may feel better not having a full inbox when you log on in the a.m. About 80% of workers say using a smart phone, tablet, or laptop to work outside of typical business hours is positive, according to a 2014 Gallup poll.

For some professions, it is just part of the job. Maybe you work with people across different time zones. Or you’re a consultant, lawyer, or salesperson who needs to be available to clients all the time. (A prestigious law firm had to apologize to employees recently when its announcement of a new policy eliminating email overnight and on weekends turned out to be an April Fool’s prank.)

On the downside, constantly being available online translates into more work hours. Though just 36% of workers say they frequently check in outside of regular office hours, those who do log an additional 10 hours of work a week—twice as many hours as those who rarely or only occasionally check email remotely, according to the Gallup survey.

Younger workers and men are more likely to be in constant contact. About 40% of Gen-X and Gen-Y workers check email frequently outside of work vs. one-third of Baby Boomers, and 40% of men vs. 31% of women, according to the Gallup poll.

The more money you make and more education you have, the more likely you are to be among those frequently connected. Employees with a college degree or higher and people who earn more than $120,000 a year are twice as likely to constantly check email than those with lower education levels and salaries below $48,000 a year. That’s a reflection of how prevalent email communication is for higher education and income groups in white collar jobs—or the pressure many workers feel to respond immediately.

There’s lots of evidence that that kind of connectivity is bad for your health, your psyche, and your productivity.

First, it can seriously intrude on your personal life. A survey of 1,000 workers by Good Technology, a mobile-software firm, found that 68% of people checked work email before 8 a.m., 50% checked it while in bed, 57% do it on family outings, and 38% regularly do at the dinner table.

And your communication might not be as sharp or thoughtful when you’re doing it off-hours. It is hard to be at your best when you’re responding to a work issue late at night or in a non-work setting. “If you check in during a family dinner or with your kids running around in the background, you’re going to be distracted,” says Debnam.

Working around the clock can cause serious health problems too. A piece in Medical Daily cited a recent study in the journal Chronobiology International that found that checking your work email at home, or taking a call from the boss on weekends, could lead to psychological, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular problems

If you don’t want to be constantly connected, set expectations up front by not getting into the habit of monitoring and responding to email after hours unless there’s an important reason to do so. And if it’s just part of your company culture? Well, then you have to decide whether that’s a company you want to work for, says Debnam.

 

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