I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the “Great Resignation,” a term coined by Texas A&M psychologist Anthony Klotz, who credits “pandemic epiphanies” with motivating many people to leave their jobs for greener pastures. The pandemic and the rise of remote work have changed the way we view our lives, our work and the world.
Never before have I seen so many “Help Wanted” signs, literally, everywhere I go. Even in our own business it has been a challenge to find help. At the same time as I’ve been ruminating over this dilemma, I came across a publication that talked about the differences between American and European work cultures. Although this is not a new subject, the article seems as timely as ever given the current climate. In the US, many workers and employers are still trying to find the perfect “work-life balance.” Meanwhile, our European counterparts are deemed happier, healthier, and more productive while working fewer hours, having longer breaks, and more paid vacation.
In fact a recent study pointed out 6 differences between American and European work cultures:
Americans work longer hours than their European counterparts. Americans have the mentality that more work equates to more productivity, which, more often than not, leads to burn out.
Americans have a tendency to reply to emails before and after work hours. In many parts of the country, there’s a separation between work & personal life. Imagine that?
Europeans receive more vacation time (4-5 weeks per year) vs. their American counterparts who receive, on average, 2 weeks paid vacation per year.
Americans have shorter breaks and/or lunches while many Europeans have a 2-3 hour lunch break.
Europeans don’t drive as much. Many people in the US drive to work on average, 32 miles both ways. This adds unnecessary stress to already overworked and debt-burdened Americans.
Americans love pop culture “too much”. Talking about shows and fictional characters replace real conversations to get to know our colleagues more.
I’ve always said that the pandemic gave us all an opportunity to slow our lives down, be more introspective and really focus on what truly matters in our lives. Today, for me, I’m noticing that life is pretty much back to the “normal” hustle, bustle, and grind. I notice more impatient and unhappy people, roads are crowded, people are overworked (again) and burnt out. It makes me wonder what it will take for us to learn? I don’t know about you yet, I think the Europeans are onto something. I would wager that Europeans, overall, have a better quality of life than we do just solely on the 6 differences mentioned above.
As for the effects of the pandemic, many predict that the legacy of “forced” teleworking, home schooling and other dramatic social and economic changes will continue to shape our choices long after the viral danger subsides. My hope & prayer is that we choose to work to live versus living to work. My hope is that those changes result in a healthier, peaceful and more joyful existence for us all!