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休完假之后,工作效率更高

2014-07-02    来源:chinadaily    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

This time of year, many Europeans are looking forward to their month-long holiday in August. Workers in America, however, can already feel the strangle of a collared shirt around their neck in 90-degree heat as we continue trying to be productive. As the Cadillac ad that ran nonstop during Super Bowl season hammered home, the European style is to take time off while the American style is to keep the nose to the grindstone. Cadillac may be proud of how hard Americans work and disdainful of the European way of life, but we may be hurting, not helping, ourselves with our out-of-control ethic.

Europeans don’t just look forward to more time off than us in the summer, but all year round. Some of this American work ethic is elective, but some of it is certainly imposed on us. The United States is the only advanced country that doesn't guarantee that its citizens will get paid vacation time and holidays. European countries, meanwhile, ensure at least 20 days of paid vacation, with some going as high as 30 days, and most rich countries make sure workers get at least six paid holidays. That leaves nearly a quarter of Americans without any access to paid vacation time.

The prospects are equally bleak for workers looking to take time off for other reasons. If they or their family members get sick, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to take a paid day off to deal with it, and about 40 percent can’t. Twenty-two other developed countries ensure paid sick leave. When a couple adopts a child or has a newborn, they’re only guaranteed 12 weeks of unpaid time off, and that’s if they qualify—40 percent don’t—unlike virtually every other country that guarantees paid leave.

We’re even one of just 16 countries that doesn’t make sure that workers get at least some time off during the seven-day week. That weekend most of us enjoy come Friday night is not backed up by American policy, but instead is a voluntary employer perk.

But it’s not just policy fueling our overwork; it’s also cultural. Professionals, managers, and executives with a smartphone spend 72 hours a week (including the weekend) checking work e-mail. It’s become a nonstop world, especially for professional workers. But all employers are offering fewer vacation days and sick days than they used to. And those who are lucky enough to get paid vacation days aren’t using them. A Glassdoor survey found that three-quarters of American employees don't use all of their vacation time. The average person takes just half of what she’s allotted. Fifteen percent don't take any time whatsoever. A different study estimated that we leave about three vacation days unused each year. Even 60 percent of those who took time off in the Glassdoor survey still worked on vacation, many of them because they felt like they couldn’t truly log off.

At the same time, we’re working harder and for longer days. The 40-hour workweek is mostly a thing of the past. Ninety-four percent of professional workers put in 50 or more hours, and nearly half work 65 or above. All workers have managed to cut down on our time on the job by 112 hours over the last 40 years, but we’re far behind other countries: The French cut down by 491 hours, the Dutch by 425, and Canadians by 215 in the same time period. Workers in Ireland and the Netherlands are also working less. We’re also increasing our productivity, getting more done in the time we spend at work. It went up by nearly 25 percent between 2000 and 2012.

This overwork shows up in our sleep. Out of five developed peers, four other countries sleep more than us. That has again worsened over the years. In 1942, more than 80 percent of Americans slept seven hours a night or more. Today, 40 percent sleep six hours or less. A lack of sleep makes us poorer workers: People who sleep less than seven hours a night have a much harder time concentrating and getting work done.

Perhaps it would be worth all of this if working longer and harder produced better results, fueled the economy, and created wealth for everyone. But that’s not likely. Taking some time off actually improves a worker’s productivity at work. A study from Ernst & Young found that every ten hours of vacation time taken by an employee boosted her year-end performance rating by 8 percent and lowered turnover. Former NASA scientists found that people who take vacations experience an 82 percent increase in job performance upon their return, with longer vacations making more of an impact than short ones. Putting in too many hours, on the other hand, does the opposite. More than 60 hours a week will create a small productivity flurry at first, but it’ll start to decline again after three or four weeks. Other studies have found the same initial burst followed, but a worse decline.


But what is it all for? Americans are working harder but not seeing the fruits of their labor. Workers, white collar and blue collar alike, have seen a decade go by without much of an increase in wages despite their increasing productivity. The infamous one percent have taken home 47 percent of total income growth between 1976 and 2007. Turns out, being “crazy, driven, hard-working believers,” in Cadillac’s words, isn’t working out so well for the 99 percent.

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据《新共和》杂志网站报道,每年这个时候,许多欧洲人都在期盼着他们长达一个月的八月长假。然而,美国的上班族早已感受到了高温下那种衬衫领勒着脖子的那种窒息感了,即使如此,我们还得继续工作。此时,凯迪拉克的广告在家中的电视上不停地播放,超级碗的比赛还在继续,欧洲人在休息,而美国人依然在工作。凯迪拉克也许会为美国人的努力工作感到骄傲,而不屑欧洲人的生活方式,但是不停地工作会对我们造成伤害,而不会有益,甚至可能会让我们的行为失控。

欧洲人不只是夏季的时候比美国人的休息时间长,而是全年都是。美国人的一些工作是可以自愿选择参加与否的,但有些工作是公司强加的。美国是唯一一个不向公民提供带薪休假的发达国家。欧洲国家确保公民每年有至少20天的带薪假期,有些甚至高达30天,绝大多数发达国家会保证上班族至少有6个带薪假期。而在美国,将近四分之一的人没有带薪休假。

而对美国的上班族来说,用其他理由来请假也是十分困难的,如果他们自己或是家人生病了,并不能保证他们可以带薪休假一天,至少将近40%的人不行。22个发达国家保证带薪病假。在美国,如果一对夫妻收养一个孩子或者是家里有孩子出生,他们只有12周的无薪假期,这还只是说他们有可能会有12周的无薪假期,事实上有40%的人是没有的,这不像其他国家会保证带薪休假。

在16个不能确保在一周七天的工作后,人们可以有时间休息的国家中,美国是其中的一个。一个周末中,我们至多能享受一下星期五晚上的欢乐时光,这与美国的国家政策是相悖的,而且这还是无偿的加班。

然而,不仅仅是政策使我们加班,同时还有文化的影响。专业人士和经理一周会花72个小时在智能手机上查看工作邮箱。这已经是一个不会停滞的世界,尤其是对专业人士来说。

但是所有老板却提供比以前更少的假期和病假。而那些有幸可以带薪休假的人可以不必使用这些假期和病假。 Glassdoor的一项调查显示有四分之三的美国职员不会用光他们所有的假期。

一般人只用了一般的假期,15%的人根本就没有使用这些假期。另一个研究表明,我们每年有三个假期没有使用。在Glassdoor的调查中,有60%的人在度假期间仍在工作,因为他们中的大多数人都觉得他们并没有真正结束工作。

与此同时,我们工作更加努力,工作时间也越来越长。每周40个小时的工作时间规定已经成为过去。94%的专业人士的每周工作时间在50个小时以上,将近一半的人每周工作时间在65个小时以上。在过去40年里,美国职工的工作时间已经减少了112个小时,但我们仍远远落后于其他国家:在同一时期,法国减少了491个小时,荷兰减少了425个小时,加拿大减少了215个小时。爱尔兰和荷兰的职员工作时间也减少了。我们还提高了生产效率,在固定的工作时间里完成更多的任务。从2000年至2012年,这十年间,美国的生产效率提高了将近25%。

过度工作影响了我们的睡眠。在五个发达国家中,其他四个国家的职员睡得都比我们多。而且多年以来,这一情况还在不断恶化。1942年,有超过80%的美国人每天的睡眠时间是8小时,甚至更多。而今天,40%的人每天的睡眠时间是6个小时,甚至更少。睡眠不足让我们工作质量下降。每天的睡眠时间在7小时以下的人会更难集中精神工作。

也许更努力工作和工作时间更长会产生更好的结果,可以刺激经济,为每个人创造财富。

但这是不可能的。事实上,休息一段时间能提高工作效率。Ernst & Young的一项研究显示,十个小时的假期时间会让员工提高8%的年终绩效评估,还能降低周转。

美国航空航天局的科学家们发现,那些休假回来的员工会提高82%的工作表现,假期越长,表现越明显。

另一方面,工作时间过长也会产生不良影响。最开始的时候,每周工作60个小时会有一个小小的生产效率的暴涨,但3、4个星期之后生产效率就开始衰退。其他的研究也表明,在经过最初的一个生产效率的暴涨之后,生产效率就开始衰退了。

但这一切到底是为了什么呢?美国人努力工作却看不到工作的成果。尽管生产效率提高了,但是工人、白领和蓝领的工资在这十年以来却没有太多的增长。从1976年至2007年,生产效率提高了47%,而工资却只提高了1%。职工们又被凯迪拉克称为“疯狂而勤劳的信徒”,他们为了那剩下的99%而努力工作。


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