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Extreme Employees

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Although some countries like France and Australia have begun to experiment with additional vacation time to balance work and personal happiness, the worldwide trend has progressed in the opposite direction. For example, Japan has long been known for its excruciating workweeks. Employees in other countries are falling victim to longer and longer hours at the office in recent years, too. The result is a new type of employee, called the "extreme employee."

From a pool of more than two million surveys of high-salaried employees in the US, it's clear that you need to work more if you want to advance up the corporate ladder. The extreme employee demonstrates more than simple dedication to the company, though. He believes in the proposition that there's always more he could--and should!--do. If you count the time it takes to commute to the office, then 70-hour workweeks are common. He makes himself available to clients and office emergencies 24-7 as well. He also takes far fewer vacation days than he's allotted, roughly ten days or less per year.

Worse, however, and perhaps more exasperating, is the fact that most extreme employees admit dissatisfaction. More than half believe they would be physically healthier with less work. A lack of free time also harms the relationship with their children. Slightly less than half complained that the long hours had a detrimental effect on spousal relations.

Experts advocate discovering ways to get the seventy-hour workweek down to a more modest forty-five hours. Although corporations haven't yet accomplished this feat for high-impact jobs, some major corporations are trying. American Express, Johnson & Johnson, and more than thirty others are working towards ways to reduce the pressure on managers to perform and produce.

Questions for discussion:

  1. 1.Rank It!: Which is most important in your life? Rank the items in order. Remember to support your decisions.
    • Children
    • Significant other
    • Work
    • Free time
    • Personal growth and development
  2. How does your job affect your relationship with your significant other and/or children?  Please explain.
  3. Who suffers more from life disbalance: men, women or children?
  4. If parents work more and more, how will this affect future generations of children?  Please explain.
  5. Could you do more for your company?  Should you do more?  Why/not?
  6. Workaholism - is it an addiction or a necessity of our life?
  7. Does you company support work-life balance for the employees? In what ways?
  8. Would you take a 50% salary cut if it meant working only 25 hours per week?
  9. Would you stop working completely if you had enough money?
  10. What would you do if you had an opportunity not to work?
  11. What is your attitude to downshifting?

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