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Americans may like to complain about how the rest of the country is too lazy, but when they’re asked about their own work habits, they tend to suggest they could use more time to veg.
A poll of 2,000 U.S. workers conducted by Groupon, the daily deal site, found that a third say they work too hard and 40 percent say they work too many hours.
The study reaffirmed past research that has shown that American workers, who are entitled legally (and culturally) to far less vacation than their counterparts in other western countries, often don’t take advantage of the little vacation offered to them by their employers.
The typical American employee, the survey found, takes 11 days off per year. That’s just one day more than the standard two weeks of vacation that employers have historically offered entry-level workers.
Eleven days of vacay might not sound that draconian, but the study showed that most of those days are hardly put to use for downtime. Six of the 11 are spent on errands, housework or caring for sickly offspring.
Forty-one percent of respondents said it had been at least six months since they’ve felt completely relaxed and free of stress.
Of course, how one defines stress is subjective, and plenty of experts have argued that “good stress” is healthy. It can motivate people to get things done.
There is similarly no universal answer to where to draw the line on work-life balance.
The good news appears to be that, although Americans may feel they’re worked to the bone, they appear to be aware of the emotional and psychological toll of their work habits, said Groupon officials who conducted the survey.
“We knew that many Americans were stressed because many of them come to Groupon every day looking for ways to relax,” said Silvija Martincevic, who oversees health, beauty and wellness deals, in a press release accompanying the study. “However, we were surprised at just how stressed they really are.”
When presented with options for how they would choose to relax on their own for a day, women chose, in the following order: Spa or beauty treatment, going to the beach and going to the gym. For men, it was beach first, followed by a spa treatment and finally, playing video games.
It is telling that employees were more likely to say they worked too many hours than that they worked too hard. A number of prominent employers in recent years have put in place more generous vacation policies and flexible work schedules, based on the reasoning that strict hour requirements don’t necessarily lead to more productivity, and instead often lead to bored and resentful workers