Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shiny Unhappy People

As my first vacation days of 2010 rapidly approach (T-minus 2 days!), I find myself wishing I could have more. Sure, after this trip I’ll have about 2 weeks left for the year, but that still doesn’t feel like enough. So I was giddy with glee when I discovered that my company allows employees to buy up to 2 extra weeks of vacation a year, especially after reading your comments on my last vacation-day post and hearing how much time off some of you have (lucky, lucky Europeans!).

When I told my Dad about my plan to buy more vacation time, he was surprised. He thought the 3 weeks I started with was already a lot of time off. In fact, he told me that 3 weeks is the most time off he’s ever had throughout his career. 3 weeks! That’s it? It seemed a little sad to me. He deserves more than 3 measly weeks! And when I voiced my opinion, his response shocked me. Sure, he agreed he would have liked more vacation time, but he never expected it. He was happy with the little time he got, especially since all of his coworkers were in the same boat.

I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t even imagine having less than 3 weeks. 4 weeks even seems minimal when you think of how long a year can drag on. I was about ready to get on my little soapbox and start preaching about the problems with the American mindset and how we’re all overworked, etc. But then I stumbled upon the MSN article entitled “Millennials Value Time Off, Money More Than Gen X”, and it got me thinking. A lot.

You see, it’s not just me. Apparently my whole generation is ready to stand on a soapbox and preach about being overworked. For a split second, my mind raced to reform. My fellow Millennials and I could rally together and go all Newsies on corporate America. I’ve always dreamed of breaking out into spontaneous song and dance, so it seemed perfect. But just as the first few bars of “The World Will Know” started playing in my head, reality set in.

This article actually makes me feel pretty bad. And really ungrateful. All of our parents and grandparents worked hard for a living and I doubt they complained as much we do. Would I like more money? Of course! Somewhere in the back of my mind, I expected to be on the fast track to raises and promotions at the very start of my career. But why? How could I just expect that? And why do I always want more time off? Can’t I just be happy with what I have?

I think we could all use a bit of a reality check. And perhaps a healthy dose of appreciation for what we have. What do you all think? Fellow Millennials, do you agree with the article? And for you more experienced Working Girls out there, what are your thoughts about the newest wave of Working Girls? Are we as ungrateful as we sound? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


tris1978ton said...

I've only got two weeks of vacation until my 5-year anniversary :(

Bailey said...

There are definitely important aspects to generational divisions. But I (for one) think the "ungrateful" aspect of the Millenials is a little too hyped. Sure, there are spoiled brats (because of the way Gen Y and Baby Boomers raised them!) but there are plenty of hard workers who will (and are!) doing great things right now.
I think the Millenial generation is also changing what we hold important in life. That includes NOT making work a priority. Baby Boomers and Gen Y were more concentrated on work (according to general descriptions) and being loyal to employers - but where has that gotten any of them or our country? Millenials are making family, friends and leisure more important - the things that will make us happy.

And I'm thankful for that!


Kaolee said...

I'm in my early 20's and have just recently begun in my career. Personally, I want to know that I'm getting a fair pay and similar benefits. If I feel like others around me are getting more pay and we have the same capabilities then I would get a little worked up.

In this economy though, it is humbling since you really never know when you won't have a job!

eemusings said...

We get four weeks in NZ, plus something like 10 public holidays.

I guess, coming out of uni, four weeks doesn't sound like a lot. but to be honest, for someone who worked every holiday she had throughout her degree, four weeks sounds like forever!

That's a week for every three months, and yes, work can drag on sometime, especially if you have a high-stress position. But I think it's plenty for me at this stage.

I might change my tune in a few years!

Anonymous said...

i would have to agree with your father. at the current moment, i haven't been in a position where i do get off vacation time, but i've worked with people who have. they're all older and they're very satisfied with the 3 weeks they get.

i do believe that people are quite overworked (i live in canada) but i don't think demanding 4 weeks or more is realistic.

we pretty much have a day off every month here, not including weekends. we get christmas off and then your 3 weeks whenever you want to take it. i don't really think much more is needed.

however i may change my mind when i start working in those positions.

Anonymous said...

I actually went to a conference last year, and sat in on a workshop on how to keep Gen Y employees. Since I am a Gen Y, I was like, "Yes! That's exactly right!" to everything that was taught! That was one thing they mentioned. I get two weeks off and I thought that was great, considering I'd never had a job with vacation time at all. But I love my job, and I can take more days off if needed, as well as two weeks worth of sick days. :) So it doesn't really bother me!

Corporate Chickee said...

I see both sides. One the one hand - why do we (millennials) think we're entitled to so many vacation days? Because we were coddled as children? Maybe. But - maybe it's because we watched our parents work so hard with so little time off - and some of us possibly hardly saw one or both parents - because of the time they had to devote to work. So, maybe now that we're gearing up to raise our families - we value time off more than ever because we know what it's like as kids to wish your parents were around more for the down-time of life.

Two sides to every story :) That said - I'm pumped because my small company just merged with a big company - and my measly 10 vacation days and 5 sick days (use 'em or lose 'em) just went to 28 PTO total... so, I'm pretty thrilled about that.

Domesticated-Bliss said...

We only get 2 weeks until TEN YEARS at my work :(

Crazy, right??


SouthernBelleJM said...

I only get two weeks. And one of those weeks I have to take all at once. I can't even break it up. I so wish I had more vacay time!!!

Abri said...

I can see both sides. Some days I feel completely overworked and underpaid and just stay grateful that I am employed at all. I have a pretty normal amount of vacation time, and honestly I feel guilty when I take it.

So I'm kind of in the middle. While I agree that work needs to stay an important priority - I also can see where I need to take the time that my parent's didn't take to put (an eventual) family first.

Very interesting article - thanks for posting!

MonsteRawr said...

Shit, I'd be grateful for some paid vacation at all! Even though I'm a department head, (and a great position considering my age and experience,) I'm paid hourly, which means if I'm not at work, I'm not being paid. Which means that in order to make a decent salary, I have to work pretty much constantly. It sucks, and I would love to have some paid vacation, but I'm doing what I love. So I suck it up and work my ass off.

Ellen said...

I love working, so the 15 days a year I got off in my last job was fine by me. Be careful what you wish for—losing your job and having as many "vacay" days you want really isn't as fun as it sounds :/


Lacey Bean said...

I think people also forget that the work week has changed as a whole. In our parents and grandparents generation, the 5 day work week was 9-5, or whatever set hours, and that was it. Once you left the office, your work was done. More and more now jobs extend past the traditional work week. I work 9-5:30, but have a blackberry so I am reachable after hours and on weekends. The work week never officially ends. So yes, I think I value vacation maybe more than my parents, but the work hours/time spent in office is much different.

lisa said...

Three weeks is already a lot of vacation imo. I'm a contractor and I've been on contracts for the past 3 years. I don't get paid vacation and now that my contract is under a different agency, I will qualify for one week of paid vacation after working for them for a year. One week, and that's the most I've ever gotten.

TabithaVenasse said...

I think this one is kind of a double-edged sword. While there are a lot of Millenials that complain too much, and want everything for nothing, there are just as many of us who are hard workers. And the unfortunate fact is, people get taken advantage of a lot.

I don't think that's a new concept. Workers have been taken advantage for years and I think a lot of our generation are more aware of that.

I mean, how many people in older generations really pursued what they were passionate about, and found a job that made them happy? I think we're more focused on finding jobs we can do well, that we enjoy. After all, it has been proven, if you're happy with your job, you do a lot better.

That being said... given that I have not had more than a couple days of vacation in about five years, I'd be totally happy with a full week.

Corporate Chickee said...

LaceyBean - good point about how the work week has changed. I don't know anyone who works 9-5 anymore. Everyone I know works 8-5! I'm not sure exactly when/where that extra hour cropped up (clearly, companies no longer offer any "paid meal time"). Can you imagine what your day would be like if you got to come in an hour later, or leave an hour earlier? It would be like hitting the jackpot of time.

Kimberly said...

I work for a national non-profit organization where compensation is NOT the reason for being here... With that said, we also get 4 weeks of vacation (including personal days & floating holidays). I didn't think I would work this hard for this $$ without that month off!

With that said, even in the for-profit industry, I think there should be a shift in the mindset. We've always thought working more means working harder, but really it's just taking away from everything else in life that makes you a balanced and productive person.

We just be more European and just work smart. But I'm a millenial ;)