Last edited Thu Dec 29, 2011, 11:52 AM USA/ET - Edit history (1)
I notice everything around me, and, having lived abroad, I noticed a huge difference in the work rules between Europe and the U.S.
Cashiers at stores and supermarkets in Europe are allowed to sit as they work;
Workers have a month (or longer) of vacation, and many, many holidays;
Cafeterias inside corporate buildings offer wine, and workers have wine during lunch (and return to lunch feeling quite good lol);
This, without even mentioning that they have unions, get paid more, and don't have to depend on jobs to have health care, which is socialized.
I think there's a treadmill attitude toward work here, the worker seen as the hamster, which does not exist in Europe.
I recall hearing someone tell how at her customer service job here in the U.S. (answering phones), the phones were very unbusy that day, and she had stood up to stretch and talk to the person in the next booth (who was also not busy). Suddenly, the manager approached her and said, "You can't just 'stand around' like that. You have to DO something. If you're not busy, sign off and go get a broom or something, sweep, we're not paying you to talk to your friends!"
There's a completely enslaving attitude about work in the U.S., the worker seen as the lazy bum, stealing money. And yet, recently I've been hearing how the American workplace is actually LESS productive than workplaces abroad.
Why Germans Have Longer Vacation Times and More Productivity
It seems many Americans are born hard-wired with the belief that productivity requires time. There are no shortcuts for a good, Puritan work ethic. It's the American Way, after all. We love stories of companies who started with nothing and worked like dogs to become massive successes. The Sam Waltons, the Bill Gates—these are true American heroes.
Self-sacrifice has almost always gone hand-in-hand with entrepreneurship and small businesses. We're capitalists, and he who works the most makes the most money at the end of the day. Or so it would seem.
Yet Europeans have always seemed to have taken a different route when it comes to the work/life balance. Germans on average work around 1,436 hours per year, versus the 1,804 hours Americans work. With those numbers it would be easy to conclude that Americans do more and would be more productive in the workforce. But we don't. Studies show that Germans get roughly the same amount of stuff done in fewer hours each week, and with more vacation time.
More at the link: