Americans continue to struggle with work-life balance – Lowell Sun


The “Great Resignation” is a long-term phenomenon. Our current situation has only underscored the need for a change in today’s work culture here in the United States.

There are a lot of good things about America, but when it comes to balancing work and life for its citizens, it pales in comparison to other countries.

Currently, there is no federal law requiring employers to give their workers time off. The Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation notes that there is currently no federal policy regulating sick leave or paid parental leave in the United States, while Denmark provides child care services for workers’ children until ‘at the age of 6 and parents are entitled to a maximum of 52 weeks parental leave leave. In Sweden, employees are offered six weeks of paid leave in addition to vacation and sick leave and an impressive 480 days of parental leave. France provides for a minimum of five weeks of paid vacation per year and has established a law requiring a 35-hour work week, with any overtime being considered overtime. Germany has the most impressive parental leave allowing up to three years of leave for a child. Many of these countries see their employees using all of their paid vacation time while Americans only use 73% of their available vacation time.

In 1938, the 40-hour workweek was doable, especially when someone else was expected to be home to run the household and look after the children. There are only 24 hours in a day. People are expected to work eight hours, if they are lucky, sleep eight hours and take care of their own personal needs, manage their personal lives with the other eight.

Fast forward to the present and how many of us can do the cooking, cleaning and laundry while helping family, friends, neighbors and the community while making sure we have time for ourselves and enjoy life in just eight hours? This is a daunting task in itself, but adds complexity to personal circumstances and it becomes almost impossible.

The 40-hour workweek became a norm in the United States almost 100 years ago and it is implausible that this concept has not changed to meet the needs of the population. The old system just doesn’t work for today’s modern world. Expectations about personal responsibilities and relationships along with stagnant wages and rising costs of living have dramatically changed the way Americans live their lives. Inequalities in the country’s work culture have always existed but watch us now, refusing to be ignored as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and changes have yet to take place.

Many families have two adults who work full time and each takes a part time job just so they can pay a mortgage, make their care loan payments, take care of the bills and maybe have enough money to get out. their family. dine occasionally or go on vacation. What does it look like when more than half of the eight hours you should be spending on personal business is taken up with other work? How to compensate for it? Less sleep? Less time spent with your family or your own care?

It is no wonder that people suffer from depression and anxiety. The CDC found an increase in the number of adults seeking mental health services from 19.2% in 2019 to 20.3% in 2021. This data does not include the number of people who choose not to seek treatment. help and therefore are not reported or processed.

As a society and as a country, we find value in productivity and invest more in it than we do to find ways to improve the quality of life of our citizens. Getting through this pandemic and having the world still for a while hasn’t taught us anything about the change in pace of life and what really matters. Will we someday stop smelling roses while they still have their scent in them, or are we just going to walk by and watch them wither and die so we can have a reason to produce more?

About Wanda Dufresne

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