America: The No-Vacation Nation
By Sara Novak, Planet Green
We’ve been going this route for years, and as sad as it may be, we’ve arrived. America is truly a no-vacation nation. Beyond a few national holidays, which depending on the corporate entity you call home, may not even be the case, and a week or two time off, Americans aren’t taking vacation. This leaves no time to explore the globe and little time to enjoy yourself outside of the job.
According to CNN, American companies often want you available by email when you are traveling, whether you’re lounging on the beach or strolling through historical sites. Only 57 percent of U.S. workers even use up the days they are given. By comparison, 89 percent of workers in France use up allotted time. Workers like software engineer Don Brock, who hasn’t taken a real vacation since ten years ago when he took two weeks to drive across the country.
Nancy Schimkat, an American who lives in Weinheim, Germany, said her German husband, an engineer, gets six weeks of paid vacation a year, plus national holidays — the norm. His company makes sure he takes all of it.
But this isn’t just because European employers are nicer, it’s because they are obligated by law to provide ample time off and American employers are not. In fact, we are the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee vacation.
Germans take three weeks at a time and that’s the norm. Germans cringe at the thought of American hours. Again, CNN:
Germany is among more than two dozen industrialized countries — from Australia to Slovenia to Japan — that require employers to offer four weeks or more of paid vacation to their workers, according to a 2009 study by the human resources consulting company Mercer. Finland, Brazil and France are the champs, guaranteeing six weeks of time off.
But that doesn’t mean we’re more successful. We came in fourth on the World Economic Forum’s 2010-2011 rankings of the most competitive economies. Sweden has five weeks of paid vacation and they came in second.
In my opinion, you’re not going to be more effective by working people to death. Eventually people break or they look back 40 years later and wish they’d taken those missed vacation days while they still could. A clear, focused mind is where the best work is done. So this year, take a vacation, even if it’s only to your closest national park.
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