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Death by Overwork = Karoshi

  • 20
  • 01
  • 2017

Do you avoid taking your paid vacation allowance? Or do you think you actually need more vacation days in order to stay sane?

Your answer to those questions might depend upon which country you live in. Some countries are famous for having workers who commonly become workaholics and don’t use all their vacation days.

Overworked businessman

For example, in the United States, only 57% of workers use all their vacation days each year. That means they rank as the fifth most workaholic country. France is last on the list, with 89% taking all their vacation days.

Can you guess which country ranked first? You probably already guessed Japan because it has a well-deserved reputation for having a workaholic labor force. Only 33% of Japanese workers take all their vacation days each year.

Overworked worker

Do Japanese companies actually get more work from their workaholic employees? And will their work be high quality? Probably not to both questions. If workers are overly stressed from too much work or are just simply worn out from putting in long hours, it’s unlikely that they will produce additional work in relation to the extra number of hours they work. And they’re likely to make more mistakes.

In spite of that, is being a workaholic a bad thing? The Japanese term ‘karoshi’ means ‘death by overwork’ and entered into the language a few years ago. The fact that a specific word has been coined for the issue indicates that being a workaholic is not a good thing.

Overworked businessman

The Japanese government has done studies that attribute both physical and mental health problems to long working hours. As a result, a new law is in the works that will force workers to take their vacation days. Employers will be responsible for making sure their employees adhere to the law.

The hope is that 70% of workers will take all vacation days by 2020.

I really don’t understand it. I wish I could have those unused vacation days for myself. I’d make good use of them. Let’s see now – which beach would I go to first?

Beach

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