The Energizer

Resilient Insights for Work & Life

The Myth of Labor Day

by Eileen McDargh, Chief Energy Officer - Thursday, January 01, 1970
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How's this for total irony: We establish a holiday to celebrate FROM labor yet chances are, most of us will still do some work today. We're actually the majority of Americans - a stunning 60 percent - who don't currently plan to take a vacation this year. According to a Conference Board study, American workers take fewer vacations than their counterparts in other industrialized nation. The 40 percent who will take time off represent the lowest rate since 1978. WHY? Reasons range from the price of gas to the stress of air travel. And something more insidious: a fear of job loss in an age of globalization and outsourcing. One poll found that only 36 percent of employees feel secure in their jobs.

Some employers exploit that fear and small wonder: estimates are that employers save more than $21 billion annually in unused vacation time. It's a mistaken savings, considering the cost of lost productivity, lower morale, stress, accidents and other problems when employees are overworked and exhausted.

A number of companies are taking a different view. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), an assurance,tax and advisory firm, knows that refreshed and rested employees just plain do better work. They have established some solid work/life balance initiatives such as:

- changing from a one-person account manager to a team approach so that there's coverage if an employee needs to attend to family business;

- encouraging employees to take vacations and weekend off. At PwC, managers get reports on whether employees take vacations and there are posters which ask "Have you taken your vacation?"

- If a PwC employee send an e-mail on a weekend, a pop-up screen reminds him that this is the weekend and to please allow others to do the same.

Hope you're getting some great ideas. Enjoy the day. I intend to.

So today celebrate your well-earned leisure. And mark October 24 as a day to Take Back Your Time. Log onto to find out more about this US.Canadian initiative.

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Eileen McDargh Keynote Speaker Blog Author

About Eileen!

Since beginning her consulting and training practice in 1980, Eileen has become noted for her ability to speak the truth with clarity, wisdom, humor and compassion. Long-standing clients and repeat engagements attest to her commitment to make a difference in minds, hearts and spirits of organizations and individuals. She draws upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations that have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to the US Armed Forces, from health care associations to religious institutions. Executive Excellence magazine selected her as one of the top 100 thought leaders in leadership and among the top ten consultant providers of leadership development.

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