Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Working: Ami 's vs Euros

I found this to be a really interesting article about working in the US vs. Europe. Hopefully this will answer the question that gets posed to me frequently, "Why don't Americans use their vacation?"

Maybe some of you who have worked in both countries can share your thoughts? I am really curious!

Although this is usually followed up by the ever annoying question "Why do only 10% of Americans have passports?" I attempted to answer that here.


arturgreensward said...

I find your posts on the passport thing to be fascinating because I've lived in Europe for 2.5 years and have had many many conversations on Americans and American culture but I have never yet heard that question.

Diane Mandy said...

I never once had trouble using my vacation (and then some) when I worked in the U.S. , but of course I also had my passport before I was 10.

C N Heidelberg said...

I always used up my vacation (and sometimes then some - getting unpaid time off in some cases to get more) and I still can't BELIEVE, I mean I truly, truly, truly cannot for the life of me understand no matter how many articles I read, why people don't.

I think I must be the laziest American alive. I love it, LOVE IT!!!!!!!!, when I am not at work. LOVE. IT. Maybe Americans just need to learn how to properly relax - if you don't know how, it's hard to enjoy vacation. I also think they overplan vacations because they get so little time off and feel pressure to use it wisely. Overplanning makes vacation feel like work and isn't restful.

kwallocha said...

In Germany it is the standard to have 4 weeks vacation. That's a lot compared to American standards. It also depends in which profession you work. When I was working at the bank, for the first 6 months I had no vacation at all and after that I had to accumulate it and ended up with two weeks for the year. In retail it was even worse.
My husband got his two weeks right away. Another big difference are the hours Germans work. It is very seldom that they work over 38 hours. Over here it was normal for me to have 45 hour work weeks. My husband has 50+ hours weeks. It took some time to get adjusted but you get used to the different work ethic.

cliff1976 said...

It took some time to get adjusted but you get used to the different work ethic.

I may have just about the perfect compromise going here. I have been working in Regensburg for just about 5 years now and I am totally comfortable with my up to 42 paid days off per year (if all public holidays were to fall on weekdays) and still have no trouble working 50-60 hour weeks on occasion if required. Burning up the comp time accumulated after the fact can be tricky, but I do what I can.

Yelli said...

@ Artur - I find it mostly to come from Brits believe or not. I have a lot of interactions with them due to my choir.

@ Diane - Why am I not surprised you had a passport so young! You were destined to become the voice of expat reason!

@ CN - I totally agree. I used all of my vacation days too. However, at times it felt like more work because when I got back, I always felt really overwhelmed.

You also made me think a little more about this. When my Dad goes on vacation, he continues to talk on the phone, bring his laptop etc...I was really upset at him doing this growing up but now I realize he might do it to ease the transition time back into work.

@ kwallocha - The difference in hours worked per week is pretty astonishing sometimes. I wonder if there is a study that talks about "productive hours" of Americans vs Germans.

@ cliff - glad you found your middle ground!

Mom said...

or in our case you have to save up your vacation time to go see your children, wherever they happen to be in the world.

J said...

Interesting article.

As far as the passport thing goes, it used to be 20%, but since laws changed a few years ago, many more have had to get them so it's probably around 25% now.