French lessons for the US?

Mar 12 2009 by Derek Torres Print This Article

As a yank in France, it's been interesting to notice differences between here and home both culturally and professionally. I always love reading ill-informed comments about how bad it is for the US to turn into France under the new leadership in America.

So it was quite a relief to read this article in the Chicago Tribune about why it's not so bad here, and why French employees don't stress as much as those in the US do.

France's well-known social safety net and worker protections are alive and kicking. Perhaps those who work for faceless multinationals don't get to enjoy their 35-to-39 hour work weeks and 5 to 9 weeks paid holiday per year like the rest of us, but it certainly makes the workplace a much more relaxed atmosphere. By enjoying vital downtime, I'm able to charge my batteries and return to work more productive than ever.

Even in bad times, like now, where many people's jobs are under the gun, it's nowhere near as worrying as losing one's job in the US. I don't have to worry about at-will employment, so I don't have the executioner's axe permanently over my head.

As a father, I get two weeks off from work when a child is born. Above all, I know that even if I lose my job, I won't lose my house, so I may as well keep my head down and focus on things I can control.

While most of these aren't workplace issues my employer controls, they are issues that affect my life, and thus, my work as an employee. A cared for employee is one who puts out good work and is happy to stay where he or she is.