Friday, December 02, 2005


You know, I really love my new job. Not sure if I've really said that yet, probably because I'm trying to keep to the golden rule of not talking about work on your blog. But I just have to say that it's remarkable how working in a positive atmosphere can change your entire work experience. Not to say that everyone here is la-la-land happy, or that I'm naive enough to think everything is perfect here, but there is a genuine sense of good feeling that you can't fake. People work hard, but seem to do so because they're invested in the work itself - take pride in what they do, like the people they work with, and want to succeed. I know that there have to be some disgruntled employees and that not everything works as smoothly as it appears to a newcomer, but believe me, in other situations I knew by now (two months in) what horrors lay under the suface.

Case in point: A senior exec spoke at a meeting yesterday to about 300 employees. He wanted to stress a number of key priorities for the next couple of months. The first was about client service, typical stuff, and the second - "Don't forget to take your vacation. Holidays are coming, and we want to make sure that you are able to relax and have time with your families and get rejuvenated." Now, of course there is good business sense behind this - a happy employee is a more productive one - but how often do you really hear someone so senior say it aloud? And mean it? I was really impressed. And happy again with my decision to take this job. It's nice to get those reinforcements so often, you know?

On a related note, I read an interesting piece in the New Yorker about the difference between hourly work week schedules for workers in the U.S. and Europe. On average, Europeans work far fewer hours a week, but have longer vacation and holiday allotments. American workers have longer work weeks and less vacation. The trade off means that Europeans have more free time to spend on leisure, while Americans have more $$ for theirs. One result of this is that we tend to spend more money on leisure activities like dining in restaurants (which also saves the time of cooking a fancy meal - time we don't have.) We also spend much less time on housework - but employ more housekeeping help, and rely on other service industries (drop-off laundries, dry cleaners, etc.) to fill the gap - services we can afford because we're working the longer hours that don't give us the time to do the stuff in the first place. (Getting dizzy yet?) The result of all of this is that there are many more service jobs in the U.S. than in Europe, and lower unemployment levels among the sector (women and young adults) who tend to take those jobs. It was really interesting and made me think. What do I really value? Is it more time off or more money to do more with the limited time off I have? It's a hard question.

(I can't find the link on the New Yorker site - I'll find the article again at home and see if I have better luck.)


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