Thursday 08 Dec 2016

All Work and No Play Fails
Jennifer Flaten

All work and no play make Americans stressed and crabby. No surprises there people need time to rest and recharge. What is surprising, according to a recent report, workers give back an average of three vacation days a year?

How is that possible? Workers have an average of two weeks, of vacation a year. When did it become impossible to fit a vacation into our schedules? When did we allow ourselves to become so indispensable that we never leave the office? Overworked and snappish, we plough through the days. Our personal lives suffer yet, even with the vacation days available, we just can't take them.

People today spend an enormous amount of time complaining about how stressed out they are, how they wish they could just find time to relax. Well, a vacation would seem like the perfect opportunity to do that, but the average worker is reluctant to take one.

Everyone talks about getting away from the office. So why don't they? What is it about vacation days, which make people so hesitant to take them? Most workers would rather call in sick then take a vacation day. At that, they take a day or two, only when they are deathly ill. Why is this?

It could be the corporate culture. We are so convinced that our jobs are in jeopardy if we are away for a day, let alone several. Everyone is familiar, with the storyline. Go on vacation, have a great time, come back to find your job is gone. The younger, enterprising person intern, you were training, has replaced you. Whether this is an urban legend or not, it's enough to give people pause before booking that day off.

Alternatively, maybe, it is the realization that with advances in technology, unless you vacation in Borneo someone from your office will track you down. They will hound you either by cell or by e-mail. Clever marketing has convinced us the corporate world will stop spinning on its axis if we do not answer our emails every five minutes. Possibly every two minutes depending on what business, you work.

Do you want to be responsible for that? NO, so therefore you must be available 24/7. Most people just give up at this point. Why have your vacation ruined by 50 calls from the office, when you can just stay at the office.

Perhaps, it could it be that we have bought into the notion the more we are at work the more we are able to do. If by simply putting in long hours, we automatically become more productive. Therefore, has this worker bee attitude been successful. No, it hasn't.

In fact, the inverse is true. The more time we spend at work; the more time we spend surfing the web, blogging, making personal calls and gossiping. All this replaces performance, of work-related tasks. If the time we were at the office we spent working, we would do more and be able to go home early.

This works for companies in Europe and, before you snicker, considers, for a moment, that America is no longer the gold standard in business. Several European countries do well business wise and they don't keep their workers chained to desks. In fact, there are foreign countries, where workers like their jobs and recognize the corporations that they work for, which is unheard-of in America.

No one in corporate America gets the point; instead, they spend all their time coming up with ways to have fewer people do more work. They are forever slashing budgets, reducing workforces, going "leaner." This leads to the average worker feeling even more fearful for his job.

This means he won't take his vacation out of the office. No he will take an in office vacation where he does nothing but play solitaire for 10 hours. Does this seem like the way to regain our powerhouse status?

Pop culture, comedians and satirists endless lampoon business culture. Shows depicting clueless bosses, snaky co-workers and working conditions routinely make people laugh. It is an uncomfortable laugh though, because it hits so close to home. Several websites record the world's worst bosses and worlds most evil companies. Imagine, how much more productive, America might be, if everyone stopped posting to mybossisevil.com and just took a vacation.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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