Whose Responsibility is Work-Life Balance?
Obviously, people’s priorities differ. But it’s fair to say that culturally speaking, the United States leans in the direction of intense productivity at the expense of time spent reading a good book, or in the company of friends and family.
A conversation that could easily be taking place this very moment, somewhere in the United States...
A: Man, the French really have their priorities straight. Three months of vacation a year. Wine with dinner every night. None of this diet craziness or pathological sleep-deprivation. Kids aren’t all hopped up on Ritalin to finish five hours of homework a night . . .
B: Yeah... Look at their GDP.
A: GDP isn’t everything.
B: How do you suppose they’re going to afford three months of vacation a year and all that wine and cheese when their economy collapses?
A: Yeah. Well, at least when their economy collapses, they’ll have loving friends and family around them. And something more interesting to talk about than American Idol.
What’s the Big Idea?
Obviously, people’s priorities differ. But it’s fair to say that culturally speaking, the United States leans in the direction of intense productivity at the expense of time spent reading a good book, or in the company of friends and family. With an average of 14 days vacation given, 12 taken per year, the US is one of the most overworked (or hardworking, depending on your perspective) among developed nations. See this chart from Expedia’s 2011 Vacation Deprivation Survey:
It doesn’t take a PhD in psychology to realize that children fare better when they spend more time – especially in their early, most vulnerable years – with their parents or close relatives than with paid caregivers. Nor to see that punishing work hours and sleep deprivation add up to chronic stress, which can have negative psychological, social, and physical consequences.
Work-Life Balance and Women’s Careers
Nancy Calderon has the unwieldy and substantial title of Chief Administrative Officer and U.S. National Partner in Charge, Operations for KPMG America – an audit, tax and advisory services firm with over 23,000 employees and partners throughout the US. With over 24 years of leadership experience, she’s made it part of her professional mission to address issues that particularly affect ambitious women in the workplace.
Nancy Calderon on what businesses and employees can do to facilitate work/life balance:
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
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- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
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Sigmund Freud, circa 1921. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
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