Work around the world
Host: Welcome listeners! With us in the studio today is professor of labor history at the University of Cambridge, Lewis Miller, who is going to discuss with us the culture of work in different countries. Welcome to the show, Dr. Miller.
Miller: Thanks for having me Irene, and good afternoon everybody.
Host: We all know the horror stories about factories in the developing world, but I want to know, where do people have it better?
Miller: Well, in South Korea, white¬ collar workers all go out for dinner and drinks together, about once a month, as a team¬building exercise. The employer pays for the meal, but employees not only should attend, they must.
Host: Sounds fun, if you like your coworkers! I've heard that Germany and the Nordic countries also give workers much more time with family. Is that so?
Miller: Yes, definitely. Mothers and fathers can both take paid maternity and paternity leave from work to be with young children. There is a much stronger culture of work life balance in many European countries, but many people now say that Europeans should work more because of the crisis. But let's get rid of this myth now. Companies where employees can take longer lunch breaks, allowing for short naps in the afternoon, usually open early and close late, so workers have to work as much, and often more, than their Northern counterparts.
Miller: Yes. What's more interesting is that studies show people who have a short nap in the afternoon can often impress their employers with more effective work. The siesta may actually make workers more productive, after all. But it's not just in Spain. Many employees in France can start their weekend on Thursdays, and workers in some countries can take up to 6 weeks of vacation a year. Studies show these periods of rest can improve productivity remarkably.
Host: Six weeks sounds great!
Miller: Indeed. Many of our workers feel they shouldn't even take the two weeks' vacation in their contracts, as they fear it leaves a bad impression with employers.
Host: Well we are about out of time. Thanks for being with us today. See you next time everybody!