Few would argue that workers need vacations to best maintain productivity and recuperate after the stresses and pressures of the office. Some countries have fully embraced this philosophy. Take France as an example, whose work week is only thirty-five hours in order to enhance the quality of life there. And the Germans almost believe that their one month vacations are a sacred right.
Other countries have opposite practices, though. Japanese employees use only a small fraction of their allotted vacation time, for fear of being labeled lazy and not full contributors to the team. In the US, work habits continue to change. Fewer employees take their full share of entitled days off, the average of which is nine days per year. The economy, as it worsens, warrants part of the blame for the shift. Many employees fear layoffs as companies post weaker profits, and so they want to be viewed as hard workers who are always at their posts.
But a growing movement advocates mini-retirements. Rather than short vacations each year, or no vacation whatsoever, the mini-retirement can be viewed as an extended vacation. However, an important point of the mini-retirement comes down to enjoying an active youth instead of working until old age and then taking a "macro" retirement. In addition, several months away from work allows the pursuit of personal goals and aspirations, as well as full immersion in a foreign country and culture (assuming you want to travel abroad). And with remote technology, Internet cafes, and free Wi-Fi services, it's even possible to keep abreast of developments at the office while away.
Life should be more than work, money, and savings. Hopefully more offices around the world will not only encourage vacation, but take up the mini-retirement concept, too.
Preview some of the lesson material:
Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- I work too much!
- I look forward to my retirement. (Or I'm already retired and I really enjoy it.)
- Employees shouldn't take long vacations because there could be problems at the office.
- I would be much happier and enjoy life much more if I could take at least one long vacation every year.
- Vacations don't have much benefit.
Fragments: Remember how the fragments were used, and complete the sentence from today's article.
- Take France as an example, whose work week is...
- And the Germans almost believe that...
- Fewer employees take their full share of entitled days off, the average...
- Rather than short vacations each year, or no vacation whatsoever, the mini-retirement...
- Life should be...
post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!
- Have you ever canceled, postponed, or limited your vacation because of work? Please explain.
- What do you think about the idea of mini-retirements versus regular vacations? Please explain.
- What are the pluses and minuses of mini-retirements from an employer's point of view? Please explain.
- What are the pluses and minuses of mini-retirements from an employee's point of view? Please explain.
- What will the balance between work, vacations, and retirement be in the future? Please explain.
Google Search: Type "mini-retirement" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.