“Hi, my name is Melody and I am addicted to email.” If I were to join a help group for addicted email users, that would be my opening line.
Allow me to explain. I am paid to work a regular 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday schedule and yet, I check and respond to work email multiple times, evenings, weekends, and vacations. Part of the problem is my work ethic and my ego. My ego is tied to being perceived as performing at a very high, and obviously, at a very consistent, level. My email addiction shouts out to my supervisors and colleagues, you can count on me 24/7. It is not uncommon for my supervisor, who is handsomely compensated for working long hours, and me, who is not, to exchange emails as late as 11 p.m., and, yes, even on a Saturday night, when we remarked to one another that our lives must be very boring if we were spending our Saturday evenings on work emails. The turn-around time when an email enters my inbox is at warp speed, I definitely take care of business.
I simply can’t disconnect from work. Believe me, I have read enough articles about the detrimental mental and physical health effects of the American work obsession and I am aware of the six week vacations and long lunch break siestas of our European counterparts. Matching our productivity to those of European workers, we come out the winners, but at what price?
Katherine Graham’s quote resonates with me:
“To love what you do and feel that it matters – how could anything be more fun?”
I do love what I do and I do feel that it matters and, at times, my work is great fun, but I wonder how much more creative and productive I could be if I permitted myself to disconnect and re-charge. So, I asked myself, what could get me to disconnect, at least while I was on vacation, and then, I discovered an incentive; not just paid vacation time, but, a paid vacation.
Bart Lorang, owner of Full Contact, a contact management company based in Boulder, Colorado, blogged about his company policy of giving each employee $7,500 (before taxes) to go on vacation once a year. His employees get a paid, paid vacation; paid for the days they aren’t at work and their vacations expenses are covered. The rules are:
- You have to go on vacation, or you don’t get the money
- You must disconnect, no electronic devices.
- You can’t work while you are on vacation.
Bart acknowledges that it isn’t healthy to be continually connected to work and validates his position with a photo of the pyramids in the background, and him on a camel, working his phone. He feels that it would be a better company if his employees would disconnect, at least for two weeks a year, and that everyone in his employ works hard and deserves a nice vacation.
You can imagine the comments regarding his blog which run the gamut from a United Kingdom worker with 23 paid vacation days who declares that the traditional 10 days of vacation a year is what keeps him from ever working for a United States company to the response from someone who theatrically writes that he is dropping to one knee to ask, Will you be my boss?
I might have a few more thoughts to write in this blog, but you must excuse me as Full Contact is hiring and being paid $7,500 to disconnect from work may be the cure for my addiction. If you want to join me in applying for a position, visit Mr. Lorang’s blog.
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