If I Were Running A Company…Holidays

via The Atlantic

The chart above is how many guaranteed holidays and paid leaves countries offer. If you look at the right, you will see the United States. This is not a misprint: the United States does not offer guaranteed holidays or paid leaves. The U.S. is the only advanced country in the world that does not offer this.

In the latest Center for Economic and Research Policy paper on countries that offer paid vacations and holidays:

“According to government survey data, the average worker in the private sector in the United States receives only about ten days of paid vacation and about six paid holidays per year: less than the minimum legal standard set in the rest of world’s rich economies excluding Japan (which guarantees only 10 paid vacation days and requires no paid
holidays).”

Even if organizations try to do good to offer paid vacations and holidays, it will still be below the minimum of other countries. Then, this doozy:

“According to the same government survey data, only half of low-wage workers (bottom fourth of earners) have any paid vacation (49 percent), compared to 90 percent of high-wage workers (top fourth of earners). The same is true for part-timers, who are far less likely to have paid vacations (35 percent) than are full-timers (91 percent). The problems of low-wage and part-time workers are magnified if they are employed in small establishments, where only 69 percent have paid vacations, compared to 86 percent in medium and large establishments. Even when low-wage, part-time, and small-business employees do receive paid vacations, they typically receive far fewer paid days off than higher-wage, full-time, employees in larger establishments.”

The rich get richer and the poor are trying to survive. Finally, this is my favorite part of the research:

“Employees in Spain receive paid leave for acts of civic duty including jury service, and for moving house, getting married or for acts related to union work. French law guarantees unpaid leave for community work, including nine work days for representing an association and six months for projects of “international solidarity” abroad and leave with partial salary for “individual training” that is less than one year. Sweden requires employers to provide paid leave for workers fulfilling union duties.”

I like volunteer and community work, but I wish it was mandatory to get paid to do good. This has me wondering why in the U.S. are most people in surviving mode?

The simple (and popular) answer is companies want to save money. Most companies feel people are replaceable and you can bring the next person in and they won’t miss a beat or give more duties and responsibilities to their employees. There is no question employees are the most expensive resource in your organization, but what organizations do not get is employees give you the most ROI of all the resources available. If you replace someone or shift the duties and responsibilities to another employee you altered the workplace culture and only two things will happen: it will get better or worse; there is no middle. Better pray for the former.

Saving money is likely an easy answer why organizations are penny-pinching. If you dig down deeper, the reason organizations want to save money is the front office ego.

I have asked this question many times for organizations of why they’re in business and they have two choices: to make a profit or being great. Making a profit will make your organization stay afloat, but your limited because organizations worry about outside circumstances (economy, government, natural disasters, etc.) or they want to keep the profit for a select few. Being great is you care about your employees to be their best and give them every resource, including paid vacations and holidays, to reach their best. You have to be resourceful around money, but you spend it wisely to enhance the workplace.

This is a nationwide political issue and it can’t be resolve that quickly. For starters, sequestration is still going on and Congress will be hesitant to setup that type of program. Also, the local and state government would have to step in and pay a portion of leave pay, which they would be taken aback.

I view holidays and paid vacations as vital to the employee because the break would give them reflection about what’s really important and also they become re-energize might have great ideas while from break. Sadly, the viewpoint here is employees must battle each day to keep their job. One misstep and they’re gone. It’s similar to a reality show, but it is really reality. Do you want to work for an organization and live in a country like that?

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