European vacation

The Trouble with Quality of Life


How do we compare with the rest of the world and the issue? Some do not see anything wrong with working constantly enjoying your week or two weeks off unless you have invested 10 to 20 years into your place of employment. There is nothing wrong with working hard, it is an admirable quality, something bestowed to us since the early days of the Protestant work ethic. In addition many of us of ethnic background are proud to work hard to provide for our families and reach a point as the years pass that we are able to reap the rewards.

Things have changed unfortunately and not always for the better. Although, I try to be positive on life, we all need to be able to adjust to the conditions presented (economy, benefit cuts in healthcare, pensions, retirement, class inequality, etc.)

The name of the game is not to be rigid. For some of us being around for some years, change is not easy. I understand completely but if we do not change and adjust to our environment what then?

Case in point: Vacation time in the US is some of the lowest of the developed countries. Unfortunately at times, people do not understand vacations, or even that time off from work is not a luxury by any stretch, but actually important for health and well-being. Employers believe that they should get the most out of their employees.  Somehow it works for them.

When Americans start traveling abroad, not just reading about it but immersing themselves into the different other cultures, seeing how other people live, how they manage even with a lot less to have better quality of life, some start realizing that they would rather do many things different. We are not made to just work.

I do not know where this whole concept evolved into this “work and no play”. Yes, the upwardly mobile enjoy better lifestyles but what about the rest of the people? Why do their lives revolve around work as the center of the universe? People not only live to work and not only one job, but two or more, with declining incomes, lower salaries and increasing commission related positions. Even physicians these days are judged on production and their incomes are proportional to how many patients they see per hour versus having the time to do a good diagnosis by having the time to ask the pertinent questions they need. Sometimes corners are cut working within the time limitations and quotas imposed. Many people are overworked underpaid and stressed out to the max.

People consume exorbitant amounts of medications – doctor prescribed, over the counter or even holistic just to get through the day. My point being that we were not made to just work. Although many might argue that the human body is resilient and can get through some of the most punishing regiments, the question we should be asking is “But, is that healthy?” Is this the way to lead your life?

Isn’t there something more to life? Employers should realize that happy employees stand for productive employees, which translates into less absenteeism, more loyalty, healthier work environment that leads to more profitability. I have asked a number of Europeans while traveling abroad as well as in the States, for example, how they feel about their vacation time. How much time they take, and it never fails to already know their answers.

Europeans love their extra time compared to their US counterparts. Their vacation is so important that if they do not take the amount of time allotted they might lose some of their benefits since they would be considered at a higher-risk for developing health issues (heart problems, elevated blood pressure etc). From the employer side they have happier employees working for them, lower costs for employee retention.

Although, I cannot solve these issues the only thing I am aspiring to bring you is some awareness. I want you to ask yourself, is work all we are worth? What can we do about it? Where do we start? I also want to challenge employers to learn to be aware of what people need. Everyone deserves time to devote to their loved ones and to themselves so we can live fuller lives.

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Posted: April 21, 2014

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