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Which Consulting Firms Have the Best Work/Life Balance?

Which Consulting Firms Have the Best Work/Life Balance?

Management consulting firms have long been a firm favourite with MBAs. Every year, the high salary, rapid career progression and prestige that come with an elite firm such as McKinsey & Company tempt at least one-third of MBAs at top schools to work in the industry. 

But there are downsides. Work-life balance, or lack thereof, is an enduring criticism of consulting firms, with consultants expected to travel relentlessly. 

Usually, firms adopt the Monday to Thursday model, which means that consultants will be at the client site most of the week, which could be in another country, and they will come back to the office on Friday. Some engagements are longer than others and can be far from the home office.

“Let’s face it, the consulting work and lifestyle are not for everybody. Those who truly enjoy spending nights perfecting their case analysis decks or working in breakout rooms over weekend-long simulation courses have high chances of succeeding,” says Karl Krochmal, who spent two years as senior consultant at EY in Canada, after getting his MBA at UBC Sauder.

Work-life balance a key motivation for millennials

Achieving a better work-life balance is a key career motivation among millennials. When PwC, a consultancy, surveyed the demographic, it found that flexible working hours was the most desired career perk. Cash bonuses came in third. 

That poses a problem for consulting firms, which collectively hire thousands of MBAs at top business schools each year. 

“But consulting firms are working very hard to make the job pleasant and predictable, with the ultimate goal of retaining and developing talent,” says Stephane Ponce, global consulting lead at INSEAD, the business school. 

At Point B, a US firm, consultants are offered a month off each year and are still paid for the time. In addition, they can take up to 600 hours of further vacation time, and are guaranteed their full base salary when they return.  

Booz Allen Hamilton best for lifestyle

According to a new Consulting Industry Report from Wall Street Oasis, a career website, the firm with the best work-life balance is Booz Allen Hamilton. The firm specialises in strategy, technology, and engineering work. In second place is IBM, followed by Deloitte in third. 

To compile the list, Wall Street Oasis gathered responses from thousands of employees at dozens of consulting firms such as Bain & Company.

The firm where consultants work the most hours each week on average is EVA Dimensions, according to Wall Street Oasis. In the top-10 of that list is also McKinsey, Strategy&, Bain, Oliver Wyman, The Parthenon Group and The Boston Consulting Group.

Given that consulting firms are renowned for gruelling hours, it’s worth looking at the firms with the best work-life balance, if you’re considering working in the industry. Here are the top-10:

  1. Booz Allen Hamilton
  2. IBM
  3. Deloitte
  4. Alvarez & Marsal
  5. ZS Associates
  6. Accenture
  7. Sapient Global Markets
  8. McKinsey & Company
  9. Oliver Wyman
  10. Bain & Company
Seb Murray
Written by Seb Murray

Seb is a journalist and consulting editor who has developed a successful track record writing about business, education and technology for the international press.

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