It’s a fact of life. Americans work longer hours and more weeks per year compared with other industrialized countries. Add to that Americans take less vacation time, and retire later in life.
What needs to change in order to work less?
Of course the obvious answer is to stop working so hard, and take more vacations. But, that’s easier said than done, and is not always feasible.
You may have noticed that the job market has gotten tougher over the past 10 years or so. Employers don’t seem to be hiring in the quantities that they once did; no longer can you open a newspaper to the classified section or browse online and see the numbers of jobs there once were.
The Impact of Too Much Work
Being employed, whether full-time or part-time, takes a huge chunk of time away from your family. But, work we must. Here are some things to consider:
- Some people love their work and wouldn’t dream of reducing their hours.
- We live in a 24/7 culture, where working nights, weekends and holidays is no longer considered a bad thing. In fact, being busy (with work) is often associated with being important.
- Generally speaking, people put up with what they’re given with little fight.
- Companies are fairly ruthless about their “independent contractor” status; and have no problem replacing people for little or no reason.
- Most employment contracts are ‘at will’, meaning that either the employer or employee can terminate at any time.
So, what can Americans do in order to work less?
Telecommute, if possible. Within reason there are solutions to the bane of too much work. In the digital world we now live in perhaps there’s work that can be done from home. More and more people are telecommuting.
Make sure to plan and take vacation time. It is okay to take a leave of absence or even a two-week vacation. It might seem as if your company frowns on too much time away from work, but sometimes it’s a necessity.
Strive to achieve some sort of work-life balance. Working is great, but having a life outside of the workplace is also important in order to avoid burnout. Occasionally, circumstances dictate that working long hours is a must. When this happens, make sure to take time to rest and recover afterwards. Some employers offer ‘flex time’ whereby you can work your contracted time over the course of a week or two with flexible hours. Don’t miss out on what makes your life meaningful.