I've been hearing so much lately about how, in other countries, the culture around work hours and time off is quite different from what we are used to in the US. I was curious, so I did a little research. What I found out got me to wondering about how deep into our lifestyles these differences reach.
One of my co-workers happened upon an interesting blog post that discusses a "part-time revolution" in the UK, where 5.1 million people work part-time by choice. Apparently, part-timers in the UK are protected by legislation that states they should be treated no less favorably than full-time equivalent colleagues. Read more.
I read about a survey of business managers in New Zealand that showed flexible work practices lead to higher levels of productivity. 80% of the people who answered the survey said that they believe many more workers will go to part-time at some point in their careers. A representative from the company that conducted the survey said companies that offer flexibility noted staff to be more "energized and motivated." He also said potential employees are attracted to companies that offer flexible work conditions and this can, "help businesses minimize staff turnover and assist in finding new talent." Read more.
I first heard in Michael Moore's controversial film Sicko that there are also major discrepancies in provisions for time off. In Spain, by law, any employee under contract is entitled to a month-long summer holiday each year (usually taken in August). In the UK and France, provisions for maternity and paternity leave are quite extensive when compared with practices in the US. In the UK, mothers get 26 weeks; in France it's 16 weeks. In Australia, part-timers are legally entitled to paid time off, sick leave, maternity leave, etc. Conversely, in the US and Canada, there aren't many provisions.
The study in New Zealand and others in the US show that flexible and part-time work arrangements contribute to overall health and wellbeing. New Zealand is doing it, so why aren't we?
Is the US lagging behind other countries in practices around flexibility and time off?
Does your company already have policies like these in place? Do you think it affects morale and culture?
If your company decided to adopt similar practices, what would be the effect on the company's culture?
Do you think that your company actually cares about you as a person with a life away from work? And does this look different from the outside in (i.e., would Suzy-on-the-Street think that your company cares about their employees)?
Here in the US, do we work to live, or do we live to work?