Monday, May 4, 2009

Douce France

According to an OECD study released today, France is the industrialized country where people spend the longest time sleeping, at an average of 530 minutes a day vs. 518 in America. Not a huge difference, but combined with spending the longest time enjoying meals (2 hours per day) and taking the most vacation days (38 per year vs. 13 in the U.S.,) it is enough to earn the country a reputation for lazyness, or dilettantism at best.

Maybe it is simply art de vivre? As a reader of the WSJ blog that reported the story comments, "For the French, work is a just a mean, not an end in itself We [in the U.S.] always talk about 'work ethics;' but what about 'leisure ethics' for a change?"

That's the difference between living and making a living -- or perdre sa vie à la gagner. The irony is, studies have repeatedly shown that French workers are among the most productive per hour worked -- way ahead of their British and American counterparts. Is there a lesson to be learned -- for workers, but also for management?
illustration Van Gogh's "La Sieste" via Google Images

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