“When I have time I don’t have money. When I have money I don’t have time,” says Glenn Kelman, Redfin CEO. He’s not alone. While many workers find themselves faced with 60-, 70-, or 80-hour weeks (and sometimes more), others who are unemployed can find themselves with too much
time on their hands. Take Dennis Lee, a sales associate working in Chicago whose girlfriend is unemployed. She has time to spare, but he says her unemployment makes it “financially impossible for me to support the both of us, even if we just go on a small trip, like, to Wisconsin and get
a small hotel and stay for a couple of days.” Those who are employed and who may have the
financial means to take a vacation often leave those vacation days on the table. The average U.S. worker gets 2.6 weeks of vacation a year, yet only 43 percent take that time. Although the reasons U.S. employees may not be motivated to take their vacation time vary from a sense of job insecurity to heavy employer workload demands, some companies now let employees trade vacation days for cash,
essentially motivating them to sell the vacation hours they do not intend to use. The challenge of taking leisure time does not seem to be a problem for many European countries. Take the
French, who get 30 days of vacation and say they take all of them. In fact, if you work in the European Union and get sick on vacation, the European Court of Justice says you are entitled to take a make-up vacation.
8-14. What is the average number of vacation days per year in your country? Should companies allow
their employees to trade vacation days for cash? Justify your answer
8-15. Why do you think U.S. workers often do not take all their allotted vacation time, even if they may
lose the benefit? Are these personal choices, or are they driven by society, or by organizational culture?
8-16. If many unemployed are spending around 2 hours/day looking for work as some research
indicates, how would you evaluate the impact of unemployment on work motivation? How would
you spend your days unemployed?
Sources: P. Coy, “The Leisure Gap,” Bloomberg Businessweek (July 23–29, 2012): 8–10; A. B. Krueger
and A. I. Mueller, “Time Use, Emotional Well-Being, and Unemployment: Evidence from Longitudinal Data,” American Economic Review (May 2012): 594–99; and L. Kwoh, “More Firms Offer Option
to Swap Cash for Time,” The Wall Street Journal, September 26, 2012, B6.
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