The right mix of work and vacation

October 22, 2009
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American workers have long looked across the pond and wished for the generous vacation policies enjoyed by peers in such European countries as France and Great Britain. And not just in laid-back Europe. Japan and South Africa have ensconced lengthy breaks into their national codes, too.

Americans in practice get about 15 days a year, while at the other extreme, the French get a mandated 30 days. Many other industrialized countries also dictate lavish periods of time away from work, at least by American standards.

As we swing into the holiday season, how do you feel about time off? Some Americans complain of living to work rather than working to live—to the detriment of our well-being. Others boast Americans’ work ethic is a big reason for the economy’s historic growth and resilience (when the greedy and ethically challenged aren’t tearing it down, at least). So our priorities are in the right place in an increasingly competitive world.

Vacation policy is tricky for employers, says Chris Woolard, a senior consultant at Walker Group, the Indianapolis company that measures employee loyalty. Too much, and productivity suffers; too little, and workers defect or burn out.

Walker offers 5.5 weeks a year to use any way its employees see fit—vacation, illnesses, whatever. How much time the average Walker employee actually takes wasn’t immediately available, but Woolard has never used it all. He tends to pick away at his allotment an hour or two at a time to attend to family matters.

What do you think? Should Americans get more or less time off? Is the balance about right?


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  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...