Americans work too much. We get an average of two weeks’ vacation, and many workers don’t even take advantage of that time. Many will go to work when they are sick because there is simply too much work to be done, or so they believe.
Contrast this with other countries. Many Europeans enjoy six weeks or more of vacation. They call it holiday. It is common knowledge that the worst time to travel to Europe is late July and anytime during August. This is because most businesses are closed during this period.
Maybe American companies are more productive, who knows. But Europeans seem to have a better handle on the whole work/life balance situation. Even if Americans have an edge on productivity (no proof, just speculation), you have to factor that they are going to be burned out more than the Europeans or any other countries whose time off is more liberal.
Burn out is a big factor in productivity or lack thereof. If you work more, but you can’t concentrate because you have been working like a dog, doesn’t it seem logical that reducing your hours may help you in the long run?
There are some people who can work long hours and not get burned out (or so they believe). Perhaps they don’t have families they go home to, or their family situation is not optimal. Of course, working long hours could be the reason for their discontent at home.
While there are some companies who are trying to bridge the work/life balance, many companies have a long way to go before making it a reality. Corporations are operating with razor-thin staffing due to layoffs and cutbacks. Even with policies that are on the books to give more time to employees, these employees find it difficult to take advantage due to the worker shortages.
If you are in a situation where you are working crazy hours, you may want to seek employers who are serious about giving more time to their employees. Smart companies know that the right mix of home and work life will recharge employees to the point where they will be more productive.
If you can’t find any company, consider creating your own employment situation. The internet has made this easy to do, and you can start a business with skills you are already good at. Then, your biggest problem is to make sure you manage your time wisely, so you get work done.