This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

February 22, 2006

Overworked? Help may be on the Way

Joe Robinson is a man on a mission: to raise the consciousness of United States citizens to the fact that they are working too hard. With his "Work to Live Vacation Campaign," Joe seeks to make people aware of the real human costs on health, on healthcare, on families, and on society.

The vacations of U.S. workers are the shortest in the industrialized world---only 8.1 days after one year on the job (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Compare that statistic to workers in Europe who enjoy four to six weeks vacation a year. Even Chinese workers get three weeks off. According to a Boston College survey, 26 percent of Americans take no vacation at all. The International Labor Organization (ILO) reports that Americans work up to 12 weeks more in total hours annually than their European counterparts.

The costs involved are enormous and perhaps incalculable. The toll that the stress of overwork takes on our health is reflected in higher rates of absenteeism and utilization of the healthcare system. Families and society feel the effects when young people do not get the time and attention they need from their parents. This results in teenagers who act out or worse, get into trouble with the law.

The goal of Robinsonís Work to Live Vacation Campaign is "to amend the national labor laws so that our work practices reflect who we say we areóparents, citizens, and members of communities." Robinson believes we simply can not be good parents when we are working 60-hour weeks and only receiving one week of vacation. His solution is to start with a minimum paid-leave law and policies that promote a healthy workplace. He was recently called to Washington to testify before a Congressional committee investigating this issue.

The one thing that Joe Robinson and his colleagues have not told us is where the money will come from. Many employers are just now recovering from the recession that began in 2000. Many would judge it unfair to enact a law that would place greater burden on strapped employers. Expect significant resistance from business and industry.

To learn more about Joe Robinson or his initiative or to buy his book "Work to Live", visit

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