Creative Destruction

May 21, 2007

Too Tired for Leisure?

Filed under: Economics,Navel Gazing — Brutus @ 2:27 pm

Yahoo! has a brief article called Worker Burnout Threatens Vacations, which delivers these curious statistics:

Nearly half of the respondents (49%) said they feel “burned out” by their jobs, and many did not fully use vacation time as a remedy. Out of 1,800 professionals surveyed, 45% said they did not use all of their vacation days allotted in 2006, and 39% said they were too tired to take a “real” vacation during their days off.

The article doesn’t examine causes and effects in any depth at all. This further tidbit, though, caught my attention:

There is an expectation, sometimes unspoken, that people will come to work under all but the most extreme circumstances.

It’s unclear what may be driving trends toward worker burnout and failure/refusal to take vacation days as vacations, but I have a few suspicions. The article mentions taking vacation days as “mental health” days to cope with stress. Most of us are familiar with that approach. I suspect a complex mixture of factors keeps people tied to their jobs, which nets obvious diminished returns that are still apparently preferable to the alternative (giving and enforcing more time off).

Comparisons of benefits and productivity of different nations usually rank the U.S. pretty low in benefits (a quality of life measure) but high in productivity. Is the conventional wisdom that productivity = long hours on the job really true? And if productivity comes at the expense of leisure and health, is it really worth it?



  1. Is the conventional wisdom that productivity = long hours on the job really true?

    ANSWER: very few u.s. companies know how to measure quality, so they have to use quantity (hours put on the job) as a measuring stick.

    Comment by greywhitie — June 6, 2007 @ 12:46 pm | Reply

  2. In Europe the workday starts at 9 am and ends later, around 7 pm after a long lunch. That makes it quite hard to enjoy life in the evening. In the US, most people are able to go to plays, watch movies, do sports, and other social activities.

    The French have an expression: “Metro, Boulot, Dodo” that defines the work week. Translated it becomes “Subway, Work, Sleep” Not surprising they must take longer vacations.

    Comment by Vilon — June 28, 2007 @ 5:14 pm | Reply

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