Vacation: Systems Thinking
Posted on August 4, 2006 Comments (3)
There’s more vacation time on tap for you (in the USA) by Chris Taylor:
While a dramatic contrast, I don’t really believe it is accurate. I believe workers in the USA get 8 to 10 paid holidays in addition to the 12.4 paid vacation days. Which contrasts with my view of medieval peasants. Part of the vacation issue is a decision, by workers, to seek more pay rather than more vacation. I want to look at the point to some of the organizational issues here though.
Several factors make it desirable to work those you have more. Health care insurance costs are high, if you can get 1900 hours of work a year for the health care premium instead of 1500 hours that can add up to a great deal of savings. Of course if you decrease the health of your workforce, in doing so, that will drive up the costs per worker (but that is one of those unknowable numbers Dr. Deming discussed while the expenditure per worker is easy to see). It costs money to hire, train, manage… people. The fewer you have the less associated costs. Assuming other things stay the same. Or course that assuming is the tricky part.
It would seem the American Institute of Stress might have a bias, but even so…
Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency by Tom DeMarco which discuss the misguided practices of working harder as a long term strategy. Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister authored Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams which is also great.
Employees feel the strain. Mounting research shows there’s a tangible downside to overwork, from mental-health problems to physical ailments and job injuries caused by fatigue and stress. It’s also a bottom-line issue: A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that mandatory overtime costs industry as much as $300 billion a year in stress- and fatigue-related problems.
But partly because of the comparatively high number of hours Americans work, the report found that France and Belgium edged out the United States in productivity per hour. In France, which ranked first, workers produced $33.71 of value added per hour on average, compared with $32.98 in Belgium and $32.84 in the United States.