The Americans and Their Workplace; A British Perspective

Moving from the UK to the US has always been my dream. As soon as I completed my education, I packed my bags, loaded all my belongings on a container and set off to live my “American dream”. While I thought, with the increasing knowledge about America and its people, with the constant visits to made to the country before, I’d settle in well. I was wrong.

The Americans and the Brits have one thing in common; they speak the same language and that is about it. As much as I thought I was prepared to live in a country whose culture was so widespread throughout the world and even my own homeland, I could not have been more wrong. There were uncountable changes that I had to make to my lifestyle in order to adjust to the new environment of the busy New York City and even greater were the type of people that I met.

The healthcare system, the atmosphere around a daily commute and even a night at the bar

so bloody different from what I was accustomed to
home. Perhaps the greatest setback for me was when I started looking for a job and finally landed one; only to realize how discriminatory, stressful and unforgiving the American job system is. Yes, they pride themselves in saying that they promote living the American dream but little do you know your American dream cannot take you more than a few feet away from your work desk because then you will start losing money.

In the UK, the working hours of individuals are quite flexible and people are entitled by law to vacations days during a working year; a minimum of 20 days. To my horror, the American working population is hardly given any time away from their workplaces without having their pays cut. The employer that I was working for seemed to think that the 10 days of paid leave that he granted me throughout the whole year was generous on his part. While it might not be enough, I was grateful to have at least been offered that because in the most situation around the job market here in the States, the position of the employee is not very strong and he lacks all sorts of bargaining power.

On the other hand, in the UK and most of Europe, we practice something that’s called working smarter and not harder. This means that working for longer hours, on larger projects do not always guarantee higher productivity; instead, in most cases. It leads to falling productivity. This is why taking time off from work is so important for workers throughout the chain of command in order to ensure the better mental health of the whole team and thus greater productivity results. This concept is alien to the people of America and this is why they are so committed to working their butts off like machines without ever questioning the legitimacy of their working hours, working conditions and their own integrity even.

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