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“Summer time and the livin’ is easy.” Except for Americans, who are burned out and overworked.

According to a recent study by Staples Advantage and WorkPlaceTrends [ht: ja],  more than half of office workers say they are suffering from burnout as a result of the hours they work.

half of all office workers in the United States and Canada now work more than eight hours a day. One in four workers say they usually work from home after their standard working day and 40 percent are working over the weekend at least once a month.

productivity

And, according to both employers and staff (although, not surprisingly, more staff than employers) believe burnout is a key factor contributing to poor productivity.

Millions of those office workers are not eligible for overtime pay (although that may change if Obama succeeds in raising the salary threshold from its current level of $23,660 to $50,440 for workers to automatically receive time-and-a-half pay after working 40 hours in a week).

But that’s not going to alleviate the burnout from overwork. Nor is the fact that the United States has no minimum paid vacation period (in contrast to the country from which I just returned, where 22 days are mandatory) or that American workers only take half of their paid time off.

Employees only use 51% of their eligible paid vacation time and paid time off, according to a recent survey of 2,300 workers who receive paid vacation. The survey was carried out by research firm Harris Interactive for the careers website Glassdoor. What’s more, 61% of Americans work while they’re on vacation, despite complaints from family members; one-in-four report being contacted by a colleague about a work-related matter while taking time off, while one-in-five have been contacted by their boss.

Workers appear to be getting more skittish when it comes to asking for time off. Although this is the first time Glassdoor asked questions about paid vacation and time off, a separate survey, “Vacation Deprivation,” carried out by Harris Interactive for travel site Expedia, shows that Americans left four days on the table within the past year, twice as many as in the previous year. That’s the equivalent of over 500 million lost vacation days a year.

Some 40% of Americans will leave vacation time on the table, a separate study released Tuesday found, citing a post-recession “work martyr complex” among worker who feel tied to their desk. The study by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications and the U.S. Travel Association — which obviously has a vested interest in workers using up all their paid vacation time — found that one-third of the 1,000-plus respondents say they cannot afford to take their time, 40% fear returning to a mountain of work and 35% believe no one else can do their work.

It’s pretty clear that, as long as American workers have no say in the places where they work and live in a country where mainstream economists and business owners celebrate work-rules “flexibility,” they will continue to be burned out and overworked.

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