Memo to U.S. workers: Take a break

Fly-fisherman Bill Manser casts for striped bass at the mouth of Kennebec River at dawn on Aug. 5, while on vacation in Phippsburg, Maine. Americans need to relax more and take more vacation breaks, which promote good health and increase productivity. (Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press)
Fly-fisherman Bill Manser casts for striped bass at the mouth of Kennebec River at dawn on Aug. 5, while on vacation in Phippsburg, Maine. Americans need to relax more and take more vacation breaks, which promote good health and increase productivity. (Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press)
Posted Aug. 14, 2011, at 9:02 a.m.

American workers spend more hours on the job and enjoy significantly less company-paid vacation and other down-time than their counterparts in other industrialized countries, according to a commentary by author Eric Weiner in the Los Angeles Times.

“This endless toil comes at a price. Time spent at the office — or, worse, commuting — is time not available for the activities that researchers consistently find make us happier: communing with family and friends, exercising, enjoying a fine meal, listening to music. A nose permanently yoked to the grindstone is a nose that is unable to smell the flowers or anything else.

So why this stubborn reluctance to take a break? The knee-jerk explanation is that old standby, the Protestant work ethic. Yes, we are a nation of worker bees, and proud of it, but that tells only part of the story. There’s something else going on: fear. In a down economy, no one wants to look like a slacker. Companies don’t need to tighten vacation policies to save a few bucks. Workers are doing it for them.”

Need a good argument to step away from your desk, lay down the Blackberry and head for the beach? Read the full article here.

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