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Old August 19th, 2004, 08:16 PM
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Default A nation of workaholics?

It's not really a gripe, more of a question...

Have we become a nation of work-aholics?

My dh for the past 10 years arrived at his office at 4:30 am and didn't leave until 6:00 pm. In January, while my son and I were on a cruise that he decided (for a variety of reasons, not just work) he couldn't take with us, he did the math -arriving at work at 4:30 am, leaving for home at 6:00 pm equaled 67.5 hr/week; 3,375 hrs per year.

The very next morning he sauntered in at 8 am and hasn't looked back!

I know he's a much happier, more rested person. I know lots of people work long hours and more than one job because they *have* to, but do you think there are people who (like my husband did) work long hours just for the work?

dorothy

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Old August 19th, 2004, 09:31 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

Hi Dorothy,

In answer to your question I work almost 80 hours a week every week. In the department I ma in that is called "going the extra mile" and is expected of all employees. i worked just under 4000 hours last year. While I would like to cut back on hours, my experieicne with other folks at my company is that's the easiest path to getting laid off.

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Old August 19th, 2004, 10:15 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

I am a System Architect. The hours are brutal, but the pay is pretty good.

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Old August 20th, 2004, 12:41 AM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

America as a nation, is woefully behind many other countries (especially in Europe) for vacation time. The average European gets 4 weeks off per year (sometimes up to 6 or 8 weeks) all paid. Americans average 10 DAYS per year!

While some will argue that Americans are more productive, what about burnout, stress, etc? I think everyone should get THREE weeks paid vacation (for those who work full time) every year - and add on to that as you stay in that job. People need to unwind - even if they do nothing but sit around the house and do chores - at least they are not at work and under that added stress.

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Old August 20th, 2004, 03:12 AM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

Hi Lisa,

I guess that depends on your outlook. I have seen studies showing productivity is higher when more vacation is granted, and when less is. Personally I have a hard time being on vacation because I can't relax, and I get calls from work regardless.

What I find interesting is that even in European companies that give their employees more time off in Europe don't carry that over to American companies they own. It makes you wonder if they only due what they have to because of the laws. In any case, what I have seen happen in my industry at least is that there are unspoken threats if you use your vacation. It's been like this in Information technology at least since the dotcom bust.

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Old August 20th, 2004, 07:21 AM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

Dalech, as long as you get the days off to cruise and you actually LIKE what you do, it sounds as though it is working for you.

I befriended a German man once who thought Americans were CRAZY because many of us only took one or two weeks for vacation a year.

dorothy

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Old August 20th, 2004, 08:11 AM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

It's been a lot of years since I've been able to use all the paid vacation I am entitled to from my corporate position. The problem is, when you take vacation and there is no one to cover for you while you're gone then the work just piles up until you return. So you may be out of the office but your workload is doubled when you get back. So how much of a vacation is it anyway?

We've been through 3 downsizings in the last 4 years. I now am responsible for the duties of 3 other departed employees. I can only do each job at about 50% efficiency despite the fact I'm working many more hours.

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Thomas
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Old August 20th, 2004, 09:22 AM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

I feel very fortunate working for a company that has a very liberal vacation policy. We work long hours and go the "extra mile" on a regular basis. One reason I like cruising is that it's pretty hard for anyone to reach me at sea. I hope it stays that way.
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Old August 20th, 2004, 10:22 AM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

It isn't just Europe, I believe Australia offers a four week standard vacation time to it;s employees.

What is interesting is that the standard of living is just as good in many of the countries that offer longer vacations, so why do we do it?
I think we should expect and ask for at least 3 weeks off a year.
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Old August 20th, 2004, 11:45 AM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

I guess my hubby is very lucky. His company gave him 2 weeks to start and now, after 5 years has 4 1/2 weeks. He works 40 hours a week too. I need my man at home.......60-80 hours...no way.
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Old August 20th, 2004, 11:49 AM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

When I was a little boy right after WWII, I witnessed my father's work week fall from 60 hours to 40 hours by 1950. At the height of my own career in the late 70's I recall that the Wall Street Journal reported that the actual average work week was something like 37 or 38 hours. Now I read in the same source it's up well over 50 hours. As our national average work week continues to rise, France has passed a law cutting theirs from 37.5 hours to 35 hours. And Australia DOES guarantee all employees 4 weeks off. I know a business owner there that confirms it. As my personal views admittedly do tend to lean a bit "anti big corporation", I'll say no more, as it would only start arguements. If you like the direction the US has been going in this regard, or think it is justified, that's fine. I don't.

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Old August 20th, 2004, 01:24 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

The company I am with (30 years) in Europe gives me 6 weeks paid vacation, plus public holidays. When I work its on average 10 hours per day plus travel 3 hours, but I am contracted and paid for only 42, not the 50.

People are encouraged to take their vacations and switch off email, cells the lot. We see it that the person will come back relaxed, batteries recharged and ready to start again in what is a pressure environment. It works for us, I hope more companies adopt the approach especially in the US
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Old August 20th, 2004, 03:06 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

Work is overrated.
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Old August 20th, 2004, 09:03 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

One of the reasons my dh has been reluctant to cruise (there are several....) is the thought of spending 9 days away from the office. Although he works in a mid-size firm, he has a very tight speciality area of law and there is basically no one in the firm that does what he does. Like Thomas, no one does his work while he's gone, so coming back to a landslide isn't so pleasant.

He says he hates to think what his desk will look like when he gets back and is actually loosing sleep over it, even though he KNOWS he needs the time off.

Sigh! I know he'll relax once the ship actually sails and he sees how relaxing and wonderful cruising can be.

I plan on bringing him drinks, wooing him with the beautiful sights, encouraging him to sleep in and take naps and I *might* even let him on the topless deck.

dorothy

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Old August 20th, 2004, 11:37 PM
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Default Re: Re: A nation of workaholics?

Dorothy, let him frequent the topless deck,

please don't tell him my lawyer joke!

banker

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Old August 21st, 2004, 03:52 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

Dorothy, I do think that the business world is getting more and more demanding of our time. I have been working lots of OT and even bringing work home with me in preparation for my upcoming cruise when I will be away from the office. Planning way ahead and "going the extra mile" before I leave is the only way that I will be able to relax when I board that plane and fly to Anchorage. I have disciplined myself to turn the whole work thing off when I leave the office on the last day before vacation...but it is tough. I just wish it didn't have to be that way, but I also work in a specialty area in my company.

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Old August 21st, 2004, 04:00 PM
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Default Re: Re: A nation of workaholics?

DavidB, Mcdonalds gives you 6 weeks of paid vacation ????


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Old August 21st, 2004, 04:09 PM
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Default Re: Re: A nation of workaholics?

DavidB, before you get your "knickers in a twist", I kidding, as usual.

Consider yourself fortunate to have that much paid vacation time. In canada the standard minimum is 2 weeks, 10 working days per year. I am very fortunate to have 4 weeks.

The term "workaholic" implies something kinda negative about working, and unfortunately for most people work is a negative thing, a means to an end. I think doing whatever you do should be part of life, and something to be enjoyed. Again, I consider myself very lucky to enjoy my job and the company I work for. I honestly don't mind having my blackberry with me and keeping in touch with work. I feel more at ease knowing that everything is running smoothly while I'm gone. I think I'd be more stressed if I didn't know.

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Old August 21st, 2004, 07:03 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

Too late Banker, I already TOLD him your lawyer joke!!

Linda, my dh is doing the same thing - he is really working hard to tie up all the loose ends so that he can leave it all behind. And good news - that mean old judge that wanted him to "remain available" either by email or phone has since told him he can be out of touch completely! I wonder if the judge's WIFE didn't scold him for ruining some poor shmuck's vacation...

Anyway, I think he's going to buy some internet minutes anyway, but at least he doesn't have to check in everyday.

My dh is a natural workaholic, even though he no longer works such horribly long hours and I suppose the term does sound negative. He works hard at whatever he does, law, cutting the grass, riding his bike, everything. I'm definitely the lazier of the two of us....I can happily sit with a drink in my hand staring at a beautiful sunset from the deck of a ship!!

dorothy

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Old August 21st, 2004, 07:59 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

Dorothy, I am glad to hear that the judge has decided that he can make do without your dh for a few days while you are on your cruise. When my docs came in last week, I handed my boss one of those little "contact cards" that came with my cruise papers and told him that I didn't think my cell phone would work onboard. Of course the card gives the number to the ship with the instruction to "have your credit card ready" because calls were billed at $16 per minute. . My boss is tight enough on money that I know he will think twice about calling me for anything.

I think you are right about those of us who are "A" type personalities. We do tend to throw ourselves into anything we do. I am an amateur photographer and I work as hard as that as I do my "day job". I already have a list of things I want to photograph while I am on my Alaska cruise and have spent a lot of time researching how to photograph those subjects well. Of course I will spend a bit of time with a drink in my hand, watching the sunset....after I have photographed it.

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Old August 21st, 2004, 07:59 PM
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Default Re: Re: A nation of workaholics?

Dorothy, Oh No! he's gonna post a banker joke.....come to think of it.....I don't think there are any, when people are pissed at bankers, they don't makes jokes about it, they're just seriously pissed, hmmm, I love my job.....


banker

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Old August 21st, 2004, 08:26 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

I'm not happy at all about the decreasing leisure time most people have. I hear politicians every year talk about family values and how children benefit from growing up in a strong family atmosphere. Then the politicians enact laws which favor corporations to move jobs overseas and drive employees to spend more time at work rather than with their families.

I think it would be a good thing to enact laws to limit the work week. What would happen is the companies would have to hire more people to do produce the work the current employees are working overtime to accomplish. Now on the surface it doesn't sound like a cost impact on the company. The problem is the cost of benefits for the additional employees.

I know from being a business owner the cost of medical coverage and retirement benefits are staggering. When you think of an employee collecting increasing medical benefits and living into retirement for 30 years you have to fund those costs somehow. It is cheaper on the company to pay overtime rates for employees rather than hire additional people.

Regards,
Thomas
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Old August 22nd, 2004, 09:07 AM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

Exactly, Thomas. We would hire more people at the drop of a hat to cut down on overtime and give our people more time off, but for two things. The additional costs imposed by the benefits packages is a serious expense per employee, and secondly, the people we have don't want the pay cut.

France has laws that limit the work week. No, this is not a slam against the French, just fact. If an employee is routinely required to put in more than 5 hours OT per week, using the mandated 35 hour work week as a base, the company is required to hire a second employee, and pay all the benefits, plus the vacation time (starts at 6 weeks per annum!). Costs are therefore much higher, productivity is poor, and the economy falters along.

It always sounds so easy to say, "Let's make a bunch of laws and force companies to do such-and-such." The problem is, that no matter what is done, the consumer ultimately pays for everything. The corporate fat cats and political slime all have a big yuck-fest over this. Is it any wonder that almost everyone in politics at the federal level is insanely wealthy by most peoples' standards?
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Old August 22nd, 2004, 11:44 AM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

Thomas:

You describe a situation where a small business has hourly workers who are needed for overtime work at times, and who receive overtime pay for it. This is not the problem, as I see it. Especially true if these workers receive benefits, which darn few in my location do.

The problem I see is with salaried workers who receive no overtime pay, and who are required to put in more and more hours, for no extra pay.

Thanks,
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Old August 22nd, 2004, 12:05 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

Where I have worked the last 2 summers when I am not in school, full time employees start with 5 paid vacation days a yr and then after 3 yrs it doubles to 10, after 5 total yrs it goes to 15, and after 7 full yrs with the company they get 20. And that is that. No one gets more than 20 days no matter how much longer they are there. It is not so bad but the 5 days seems a little low.
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Old August 22nd, 2004, 12:52 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

Two or many more scenario's here and I am not referring to individuals posting, but the scenario presented.

We have people scared to take time off in case "whatever happens" when they are not there. We have people who just do not feel comfortable taking time out and having a vacation, that a guilt factor, dont do it.

There is also the "power person" that feels every decision must be made through them, even if they are on vacation, I find that one the saddest.

We also have people worried about outsourcing of their income to elsewhere.

Dont know what the heart attack rate in business is like in contintental America, but as a continent you have to strive for a more work / life balance.

Easy words when I have just seen 300 of my call centre jobs being sent to India, and do you know the sad thing,,its business and nothing that I tried to do, or the managers that work for me or the people answering calls could do would have change it... IT WAS CHEAPER.

Its a global market we live in through technology and manpower cost is unfortunately the repercussion, and growing.

Law is the only way we can redress this, same as the French. If you run a business from our coutries it should be the law that unless you are trully global, the jobs must remain in that country. You cannot base yourself in our country, take it's tax breaks and then place your workforce overseas in third world countries.

I work in the IT industry, I've seen the ups and downs, but I try to employ the work / life balance,,,why?..... I've seen better men than me die before 50 through the stress.

So what did they prove to the families they left behind, not sure. All I know is your a long time dead
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Old August 22nd, 2004, 01:11 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

I am one of those workers who doesn't receive overtime pay. I am also one of those managers who have to decide if we can afford to hire (never) more people. Hiring people is not an option anymore. When we have excessive work to do which our regular people can't accomplish on overtime we hire a contractor to fulfill the need.

On the surface it appears to be expensive to pay a contractor about 25% more to do the work that a full time employee could do if we added one. But the benefits package is right now calculated at 150% of their pay rate. So if we hire one for $10 per hour the actual cost to the company is $25 per hour.

Regards,
Thomas
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Old August 22nd, 2004, 03:49 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

David B.

By the way, in what country do you live? (Not a "smart alec" question, but seriously!). In the workplace as I have observed it in the USA, the problem goes something like this. The employer does not order the employee not to take vacation or to work long hours. The employer merely gives the employee more work than can be done in a 40 hour week with vacation time, weekends and holidays off. Then, the employer establishes a corporate culture where it is known that if an employee doesn't meet deadlines and work volume goals, that employee will not only never be promoted, but may be fired. As our cost of living increases (the REAL ones, not the fiction reported by the government) exceed wage and salary growth, employees have to remain very "motivated" to keep from falling behind, financially. Yes, we need laws preventing a corporation from sending jobs overseas to a country with no connection with those jobs. But first, we have to stop the Federal government itself from doing this. A recent TV "newsmagazine" program reported that our Internal Revenue Service has contracted out jobs to India which involve answering phone calls on simple tax questions. And I heard just this afternoon from a "very relable source" that our Postal Service is "reorganizing " its personnel department, and this will involve sending some routine clerical jobs to India.

Thomas:

It sounds like your company's benefit program is far more generous than those in my locality. For example, Wal-Mart is hiring so called full time employees here, and then working them slightly less than 38 hours per week. This way, they can qualify for some tax credits, but don't have to provide ANY benefits. Got any jobs open?

Thanks,
Richard

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Old August 22nd, 2004, 07:08 PM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

My experience with a previous employer was that they tried to get the work done with as few employees as possible. Everyone was overworked and we were expected to work thru lunch hours and either come in early or stay late for no extra pay. Everyone was under stress and afraid of loosing their job. I wasn't there long when I developed high blood pressure, asthma and a strange skin rash. I believe all these conditions were related to stress. The management blamed the employees if work was not complete; employees were accused of poor "time management". In order to take a vacation, you had to ask your coworkers to cover for you - asking a different person to cover each day you were gone so that no one would be even more overworked for more than one day out of the week. The pay was pretty good - and I decided I could afford to take two weeks vacation every year - this meant staying in the office sometimes until after 9 PM the night before I left on a cruise. When I was laid off after 9/11, I decided that no way would I want to return to another pressure cooker job. I don't want to work more than 40 hours a week - healthwise it just isn't worth it.
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Old August 23rd, 2004, 02:14 AM
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Default Re: A nation of workaholics?

Sandy:

No it is not. I am not an M.D. but many of my friends are. They report that work stress is the major epidemic in this country, and is causing more disabling illnesses in the US than is caused by smoking or HIV. The medical problems include those you describe, plus mental illness, neurogical disorders such as multiple sclerosis, heart and vascular disease, ulcer and other stomach and GI tract disorders, and virtually every condition except cancer ----- which is suspect!

In spite of this, an employee can get workers' compensation in most states only when there is first some sort of physical impact. Is this law behind the times and in need of change, or what?

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Richard
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