A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Why do Americans work so hard?

A French industry executive once posed this question during a symposium I attended in conjunction with a boat show. She wondered if Americans’ lack of leisure time was a big stumbling block to boating in the United States.

Americans work, on average, considerably more hours than other industrialized nations. And, while workers in most industrialized nations enjoy four- to six-weeks of paid vacation a year, American workers generally have to work at a company for years to earn that much time off. Even then, many American employees are hard-pressed to take more than a week or so at a time.

Weekends fly by, punctuated by chores, the kids’ ball games or dance lessons, and occasional work brought home from the office.

And, boating competes with a host of other activities for the few hours of leisure time Americans can eke out. How can the industry move boating to the top of the list?

JoAnn W. Goddard
Associate Editor


7 comments on “Why do Americans work so hard?

  1. Frank Ferraro

    I have several international clients who have pointed out the same thing. When I visit their home turf there’s a clear delineation between work and play. We could take a few lessons from them.

  2. joel

    Because we are “allowed” to! We are free to be as industrious or lazy as we like.

    In the home country of your “French industry executive” more work is not only discouraged, but illegal.

  3. KAL

    American’s need to prioritize. We work hard mostly because our work defines us and the more effort we put into our job, the better we look and feel.

    The problem is that feeling good should come from the inside and not from outside stimuli. If we were happier with ourselves we could spend less time at our desks and more time at the helm of our boats, with our children and families, and traveling to see more parts of the world than just the local interstate.

    Being on a boat is a joy everyone should experience. Mother Nature is very strong, but can be a very kind and rewarding teacher.

  4. CarlM

    You are right on the money. For the last 2 weeks and the next 2 weeks Italy is basiccally shut down. Was anyones cell phone, comuter, memory chip, Ipod, digital camera etc designed or built in Europe???
    I disagree that americans are not boating. Try boating on Lake of The Ozarks on a weekend, or Lake laneir in Ga, or the finger lakes in Ny, or Havaso. Try finding a spot in a dry stack in Fla. The lakes are packed as are the storage sheds. New boat sales may have slowed down but like cars, as the technology in fabrication & propulsion became better, and continues there is not the need to replace as often. Maybe we are at saturation???
    Just my 2cents

  5. Sharon W

    Unfortunately, I would have to agree that Americans work too much. If someone just works 40/hours a week, they are going to have a hard time moving up the corporate ladder. Honestly, I wish our government put more regulation on maditory time off. If every American had at least three weeks off, we might actually have some time to enjoy our watercraft and reduce stress–not to mention getting to know our family.

    Plus, the reason the lakes are packed on the weekend is because it is the only time people have. Two days per week to enjoy the summer season–what a crock.

    However, it is 5:20PM on a Friday evening, and I am still at the office! Maybe I can catch some boating activity tomorrow evening if I can find a spot.

  6. Dave Guilford

    I moved from Southern California (where people regularly kill themselves 80+ hours a week in cube farms) to Louisiana. Down here work is just something you do to be able to afford time with family and friends, mostly on boats! Believe me, when you’re laying on your deathbed you’re not going to be wishing you’d spent more time in the office. Maybe its because Louisiana was a French colony for so long, but I find the people to be much friendlier and laid back. Work doesn’t define people out here – play does.

  7. Joel

    “Honestly, I wish our government put more regulation on maditory time off. If every American had at least three weeks off, we might actually have some time to enjoy our watercraft and reduce stress–not to mention getting to know our family.”

    So you let the government prioritize your life? If you have to work that many hours, then you should work on being more productive. I am serious, if you are worth having as an employee, then you should be able to ask for 3 weeks off.

    Ask anyone in France under the age of 30 how government mandated work weeks work out for them. = 20% unemployment. Lucky for the young French workers, their country is just now waking from stifling social policy; Im afraid it looks like the US is heading for the same lesson.

    wake up

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