This is definitely something that we here in the United States need to learn from. It’s not about how many hours a day you work, it’s about how well you work during the hours that you do work. For example, when Best Buy switched their work policy to judge performance on output instead of hours worked, efficiency skyrocketed for the company. This is something I learned a lot about when I used to travel to Europe for work several times a year – they really get just how important a work/life balance is. In this country we put in more hours than ever, and our efficiency is actually trending downwards. It’s not a healthy way for us to live, as it leads to more time away from home and more health problems. Is killing yourself at work really worth a few extra bucks? For me it’s not. From The Guardian:
Employers will be expected to offer more part-time jobs for working parents under a major shift in government thinking on family life. The move is likely to provoke an outcry from business and accusations that ministers are not taking into account the financial burden of extending workers’ rights during a recession.
The UK government is actually stepping in to try to help promote even more work/life balance for its citizens. It’s unfortunate that anywhere in the world there is a “live to work” mentality instead of a “work so you can live”, but I am not sure that the government stepping in to help people is a good thing. It would never fly in the U.S. (and this concept probably won’t in the UK either), but I am glad to see how other countries value the “life” of a person rather than just how much they can create/build/bill for. That much I can be happy about, and some people I personally know could benefit from being told to spend more time at home! You guys all know which side of the political spectrum I stand on by now, but in this case I am not sure that a government needs to get involved and force employers to follow this new idea. I would think that we the citizens and employees could demand it on our own if we so chose. I have chosen to follow a more balanced work/life balance on my own time, so I don’t know if I could go back to work for someone who told me what time to arrive and what time to go home.
What do you think? Do we need more work/life balance in this country? The average worker in the US receives, and uses, way less vacation time than most in the industrialized world. Has our work taken priority over what should probably be the most important thing to us, our free time and family?