Entries in the Category "Work"

Vanishing American Vacation

The United States remains the only industrialized country in the world that has no legally mandated annual leave.

Herbert Spencer, the champion of laissez-faire capitalism coined the phrase "survival of the fittest" to Charles Darwin. The surprising thing is that he disapproved of American capitalism saying that Americans were pathologically obsessed with work. He advocated a revised ideal of life that includes relaxation. "Life is not for learning, nor is life for working, but learning and working are for life," he said.

He said that almost 125 years ago.

Today, we are still obsessed with our work ethic. Yes, we love working hard non-stop, answering almost 24/7 on our mobile, smartphone, or blackberry. Yet, why aren't we asking for more vacation time? Better yet, why don't we try to use up all of our alloted time?

The reasons include:
1) fear of leaving work that will pile up in their absence
2) fear that other employees will show more devotion to the job and get promoted above them
3) distaste for relating to a mate and children outside of their tightly structured lives
4) convinced that economic success depends on subservience to employers who control their work lives

A survey (no source) showed that a third of all Americans do not take their alloted vacation and 37 percent never take more than a week at a time. 88 percent carry an electronic device while on vacation to keep up with work. 40 percent logon to check with work email.

What's worse is that a third of all women and a quarter of all men receive no paid vacation.

In terms of how many vacation days are given out, France leads with 30 days a year. Britain, Germany, Australia, Spain, and Sweden have 20 or more days off. Canada and Japan have 10 days off, about the same as some American corporations. The Chinese get three weeks off a year. Many employees in other countries take six or more weeks off a year.

But workaholics say America is great because of our work ethic. It would seem that we have the highest productivity in the world because we work more overtime -- 40 percent work 50 hours a week, some would do 60 to 70 hours.

If you take away overtime, America lags behind France, Ireland, Norway, and Holland. Germany and Britain are a bit behind, but all of them have more vacation time than the United States.

What's worst, is that we got four generations of Americans working right now. Then number of workers 55 and over has increased. We still have folks older than 75 still working. Talk about stress.

It's understandable that such a strong work ethic should bring us economic prosperity. We want to make more money so we can do the things that we want. Whether it's greed or supporting yourself and the family, there's no excuse of not having mandated vacation time.

We are supposed to prevent mental and physical burnout. We are not robots, but actual human beings.

I wish I can take more time off, but the fear of falling behind on what's going on in the office is at the top of my list. I got my trusty blackberry but I am worried that by not being there, it may show me in a negative light. I am fortunate to have 25 days for vacation, of course when I first started I had 15. But we also got 2 personal days and 6 sick days. Still, it feels like it is not enough. I seen quite a lot of folks in the office getting burnt out but don't want to take time off because they would fall behind, and then they have more work to get caught up and after.

But when I do go on vacation and visit some foreign country, then find out that other tourists coming from Europe or other countries have longer vacation days, you can get really jealous.

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