Joe Robinson, founder of the Work To Live campaign and author of Work to Live: The Guide to Getting a Life talks about his latest quest: lobbying for federally mandated vacations.
American Way: Are we the workaholics of the world?
Joe Robinson: Well, we have no statutory protection for vacations at all, while the European Union countries have either four or five weeks mandated by law.
American Way: Besides health problems, what are some of the ill effects of overwork?
Robinson: For one, many parents aren’t home for dinner. We blame violent games and Hollywood for problems with our kids, but the real family-values issue is overwork.
American Way: In a tight economy, don’t people tend to work even more?
Robinson: Yes. People feel even guiltier about taking off. If they do, maybe they’ll be seen as not critical to the operation and get the ax.
American Way: Many people seem proud of their 70-hour weeks.
Robinson: It’s what I call “my ulcer is bigger than your ulcer.” We compete to have less of a life than the next guy.
American Way: What’s your message for businesses?
Robinson: Working too much doesn’t make your people more productive. Fatigue studies going back to the ’20s show that output decreases as hours increase. And remember, MRI scans of fatigued brains look just like scans of sleeping brains.