Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Our Choice to Leave $62 Billion on the Table

"I was told by my doctor I needed to stop working so many hours. I was losing my health."

"My family said, 'What about us? Are we not as important as your work?"

"My boss gave me a written reprimand. I was working too many hours."

Seems like these should be quotes from Wall Street workers. Or from silicone valley start-ups - with the possible exception the last one. Rare is the supervisor in corporate America who would reprimand for something like that.

The fact is, these are quotes from non-US NGO employees.

After listening to these folks I began to wonder if the pressure to work more hours - connected to this need to find value and self-worth in our personal state of busy-ness - was something experienced prolifically outside of America. I'd assumed this to be primarily a US issue. But now I begin to wonder.

I did a quick check, and my suspicion was founded.

Overwork is a choice being made by societies all over the world, particularly in the US and Asia. Just did some fascinating reading on the subject.

Of course, many European countries have significant amounts of required vacation days. Austria, for example, requires a minimum of 22 paid vacation days per year, plus 13 paid holidays.

But the opposite is true in many places. Plus, even with vacation days, most people choose not to use them. The US does have the top spot fir that one.

Doha, Qatar business district, like most, doesn't sleep. 

US workers lead the world by leaving over 600 million vacation days on the table every years. According to project time off, only 1 in 4 employees actually unplug during vacation. US workers leave over 62 billion dollars on the table for unused vacation days. is a website, podcast, and app set up by Arianna Huffington late last year to combat the global corporate mindset.

Because, in the end, it's not the world's problem.

It's your choice, and my choice.