Overworked and Afraid to Take a Vacation: American Workers Have Had Enough
It seems like 2012 has been the year of the American worker crying out “Enough already!”
In this post, we take on the reluctance to take time off out of fear that we might appear to be slacking.
Americans are working approximately 11 more hours per week now than they did in the 1970’s, yet the average income for middle-income families has declined by 13% (when adjusting for inflation) since the 1970s.
This trend has not gone unnoticed. Marketers are seizing this growing discontent as a way to motivate consumers to buy their products. Big advertisers like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are tapping into a sense of frustration among workers to sell products portrayed as minor luxuries.
One great example of this is the “Take Back Your Summer” campaign from the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. The idea is that overworked employees have this surplus of vacation time they’re not using (true!) and so they need to break free of the office and escape to Las Vegas.
The hilarious TV commercials and videos on their website follow six different office workers. Annie who works in the mail room packs herself into a box marked “Las Vegas” and gets herself shipped off. Janine disguises herself as a trash can and sneaks out the front door of her office building. Jerome sets fire to his timesheet and grabs his golf club as he heads out the door in slow motion.
These scenes, as absurd as they are, resonate with the culture because it’s such a part of how we view work. It’s ingrained in our collective psyche that work is a place where we’re trapped from 9-5 and if we have the audacity to take a lunch break or use our vacation time, then we’ll probably get fired or passed up for promotion.
These ads, the discontent, the overworked employees who get the productivity and creativity sucked out of their souls... these are our reasons for getting the message of ROWE to the world. Slowly, companies are waking up to the reality that things must change and that there’s a better way.
What about you? Are you going to rise up from your desk and lead your team in a lunch revolt? Or dare to cash in your vacation time? Or maybe - just maybe - you could start a revolution by bringing ROWE, the system that brings the ultimate focus on results and accountability, to your workplace.