Newly-Hired Consultants Are Getting Paid to Sit Around and Watch Netflix
Newly hired consultants—who make upwards of $175,000 a year—have little to no work these days…but they’re still getting paid.
A recent report by the Wall Street Journal found that consulting work has slowed at top firms since the pandemic. For the first time in decades, a number of top firms are even delaying start days to ensure that new hires will have case work to do when they start. But for many new hires, idle time is spent watching Netflix, taking naps, and even applying for other jobs.
The Wall Street Journal interviewed more than 30 current, former, and prospective consultants—many of whom detailed how they spent idle time on the job. One consultant revealed that since last fall, he had only worked on two client projects. In his spare time, he took walks, shopped for groceries, napped, and watched shows like Fakes on Amazon Prime. Similarly, another consultant hired around the same time mentioned that she cooked, spent time with family, and searched for jobs during down time.
WHY IS CONSULTING WORK SLOWING DOWN?
One of the main reasons why new consultants have little to no work right now is the sheer number of new hires. Firms bulked up their staffing to accommodate for a pandemic surge in business. At McKinsey, for instance, the staff count grew to about 46,000 in 2023 – up from 17,000 in 2012.
Since the pandemic, however, work has slowed. And many firms are now cutting back on their recruitment efforts. Sendero Consulting, a company of approximately 240 employees with offices across the United States, anticipates hiring 30 students, a decrease from the 80 it had originally planned for last year. Bain has delayed start dates for new hires until next April, offering MBA recruits a $40,000 bonus to work for a nonprofit or $30,000 to learn a new language in the meantime. In March, McKinsey cut about 3% of its staff as part of an initiative to trim down its growing workforce.
HOW DO NEW HIRES FEEL?
A number of newly-hired consultants said they felt anxious about how the idle time on the job might hurt their career growth. Some new hires fear that the slowdown could negatively impact their performance reviews and even negatively impact their long-term career goals.
Performance is intricately tied to career growth in the consulting world. At BCG, for instance, employees are placed on a performance grid, indicating both their actual performance and potential. High performers are placed within green boxes on the grid. For some consultants, falling outside of the green zone raises doubts about whether or not they have a future at the firm.
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