Ah, vacation. The sand, the surf. The mountains and hiking. The city streets and sidewalk cafes. I need a vacation. That's what most of the Americans think, but don't do.
They have heard all the sayings: "Vacation is a great way to relax, re-charge and come away with a fresh perspective that can drive your career to new heights. Too bad these cathartic cliches ignore the realities of the 2000s: overwork, overbearing managers and overreaching technology that never let American professionals off the hook.
The reality is that the amount of vacation time available to U.S. workers is at the whim of U.S. employers. While there may be some truth to the fact that a lack of government intervention in this matter is a major reason for the global dominance of the U.S. economy, they are at an extreme end of the work-life balance spectrum. And to many, the end is the wrong one.
Sure, U.S. production, wealth and work ethics are the envy of the industrial world. But, as a result, employers mandate how many weeks an employee can take off.
A dirty secret in corporate America however, is that a vacation is not a right, but a privilege. Hence the proliferation of PDA devices, laptops and mobile phones on beaches across California, Florida and Mexico.
Unlike his counterpart in Europe, it seems the U.S. worker has his Job on the brain even when the time has come to decompress, be it at home or on vacation. Despite the evident benefits to the economy and overall productivity, is it worth it?
The average vacation time in America is 12 days while in Germany It is 35, in France — 37, and in Italy the norm is an astounding 42 days щ year. This is unheard of in America. Even the British have 28 days at their disposal, which means that one of the most stringent European nations in terms of time off provides twice as much as the average American company.
Another important consideration in this comparison is the fact that during certain times of the year, corporate Europe as a whole takes a vacation. Try doing business with a European company in August or in second half of December and early January, for example. We are dealing with a totally different mentality on the other side of the pond.
The point is the ever-elusive balance of work and life. U.S. business has a reputation for being all work and no play, while business in Europe is less intense and more holistic.
Many Europeans however, would cite that intangible "quality of life" metric. The standard of living in the U.S. may be the highest in the industrial world in terms of monetary compensation, but what about family time, personal time and stress levels?
Another point is that technology and a major push by industry for Increased productivity have convinced many folks they are indispensable.
People don't take long vacations — if they take them at all — because Companies have been ''brainwashing" employees into feeling guilty about handing off their work to colleagues. They have engendered a sense of insecurity. Now there are all these narcissistic worker bees who, when companies downsize, are shocked because they think, 'Hey, I'm vital.'
Many workers believe that their workload simply doesn't allow them to take all the time off.
Others say it is pressure or fear that keeps them from using all their vacation, not their workload. In the volatile labor economy of the 21st century American workers are not using their vacation days, because they're scared of being replaced while they're away or that their employer would discover that they are not indispensable.
It boils down to personal choice. You can have your cake and eat it too in America. Because government does not regulate vacation time here, there is always the possibility of negotiating more days off once you gain a certain position of recognition in the company.
No matter how many people applaud the American work ethic and commitment, nobody can deny the tangible and intangible benefits of a vacation to workers with full, busy lives.
By lan Harrison
Pronounce correctly and transcribe. Consult the dictionary if necessary.
Recharge, cliches, ignore, overbearing, whim, extreme, wealth device, astounding, stringent, intangible, quality, industry, increased, guilty, engendered, insecurity, folks, pressure, volatile, scared, government, applaud.
Answer the questions.
1. Why do people need vacation?
2. What are the realities of the 2000s?
3. Who regulates the amount of vacation time in the US?
4. What is the major reason for the global dominance of the US ac-cording to the author's opinion?
5. Where is America on work-balance spectrum, the author thinks?
6. Why does industrial world envy America?
7. Why do you see the proliferation of computer devices on the resort beaches?
8. What is the average vacation time in America and in European countries?
9. When does all corporate Europe take vacations?
10. What is the main difference between business in Europe and America?
11. What does the author say about the standard of living in the USA?
12. What are the major reasons why American workers don't take long vacation?
13. What is the way to get more vacation time in America?