France urges work-life balance while some American business says ‘don’t be the French’

France, bless their Franco hearts, has a new law that gives employees the right to ignore business emails after hours, but only if the company they work for has more than 50 employees.

“But it is born of the enlightened view that it is actually beneficial for people not to work all the time, and that workers have the right to occasionally draw the line when their employer’s demands intrude on evenings at home, treasured vacations or Sundays with friends and family,” the New York Times’ Alissa Rubin wrote earlier this month.

Note her use of the word enlightened.

These sorts of things — enlightened approach to people — can scare some in the American business community.

Grant Cardone, a self-made millionaire, according to CNBC, writes today that they’ve got it all wrong and if you believe in a work-life balance, you’ve got it all wrong too.

He says you should be focusing on earnings, not comfort.

Middle-class Americas want nothing more than to be comfortable, even if that means they never will get rich. Comfort is king for too many people. The problem is, if you are stuck making $50,000 a year you will never get out of being uncomfortable, because you have nothing left over financially.

If you become comfortable, you take less action. When you take less action, you stop pushing to fulfill your potential.

Seeking comfort over financial freedom is what separates the moderately successful from the most successful.

Cardone also offers the old cliche: If you find your passion, you’ll never not want to be “working.” This, of course, is nonsense since the purpose of finding a work-life balance is finding a balance between and among various passions. Also, some days just stink, no matter how passionate you were when you clocked in.

“Take this lesson from the French: Don’t be them,” he writes.

“Having recently moved back to the States from Europe, I have seen the French up close and I have to tell you that they are pretty happy with their lifestyle,” a commenter on the NY Times article responds. “As a result, they have an allegiance to their employers and are more engaged while at work. They have struck a balance between work and life that not only produces less stress and better health, but also more productivity. The basic motto of the French worker is that no one lie in their deathbed and say, ‘I should have worked harder.'”

  • Mike Worcester

    I blame smartphones 🙂

    Seriously though, I am just at guilty about checking work email and messages even while on extended periods away from the office (I believe others might call that “vacation”). For that I have no one to blame by myself.

    As for Mr. Cardone — I will submit that those who pursue earnings at the expense of all else, including comfort and balance, are a distinct minority of the population who seem to exert out-sized influence on our societal mindset.

    But hey, what do I know, I’m just a guy who makes $45,000/year and is generally happy with my work/life balance.

  • Veronica

    The idea that if you love what you do it’ll never feel like work is nonsense. Cardone sounds like the kind of guy who would have written the Strib’s OpEd on workers having no right to complain about working on Thanksgiving.

    • A classic editorial. Which the Strib deleted some years later.

    • jon

      “The only joy is the joy of duty. Work… work… work.”

    • king harvest

      Not defending the guy, but…..
      I love what I do and it rarely seems like work. It does, however, always feel like effort. Lots and lots of effort.

      • Rob

        Yes. As one of my former bosses loved to say: “The reward for hard work is more hard work.”

        • king harvest

          The curse of competence

  • >>The basic motto of the French worker is that no one lie in their deathbed and say, ‘I should have worked harder.’”<<

    Exactly.

  • >>Seeking comfort over financial freedom is what separates the moderately successful from the most successful.<<

    This clown has a pretty skewed version of "success."

    • BJ

      I had the same thought.

  • Rob

    Some years back, during an interview for a senior PR position at a Twin Cities agency, the VP conducting the interview told me that the primary client I’d be working with would expect me to be available at his beck and call – evenings, weekends, etc. I told him life’s too short.

    • jon

      I refuse to take a job with an on call component any more.

      I had two, both were abusive, and one of them I was never compensated for my on call time (they also retroactively changed the employee handbook so they didn’t pay out my vacation time when I left, completely illegal, but “illegal” was kind of their employment policy.)

      Since then I’ve stopped checking work emails on my phone even because the company decided all emails needed to be encrypted with a 3rd party software that would give them control of the device, and the ability to remotely wipe the device..
      I said no thank you, offered to accept a phone they paid for that they could have complete access too, they said no thank you, so I don’t check my email outside of work hours any more.

      I make a nearly complete break when I leave the building…

      It’s wonderful.

  • Al

    American millennials are really stuck. We see other countries embracing work-life balance, and say, “Yes, we want that, too!” but we don’t have the bargaining power to really push for it.

    So in the meantime, many of us can either work night and day to grow our cache to try to change the system, or opt out, choose a job that really gives us that balance, and wonder how we’ll afford dance lessons next year for our kids. (Or sports fees, or an instrument, or…)

    And that just goes for those of us who can make a decent wage. Let’s not even get started on jobs that neither pay nor give any modicum of work-life balance.

    Hello, rock. Hello, hard place.

    • Kassie

      I read this and think, then why am I having such a hard time getting millennials to join the union. If I could get every person under 40 to join the union, we would be able to push for these things, but many do not want to join. They join in much lower numbers than those over 40. I’m not one to believe that older people and younger people want different things in the workplace, but from my perspective (President of a Union Local) it does seem that older people are more willing to put their money where their mouth is in regards to union dues.

      • I think it’s the dues. As least that’s what I surmised in another union drive I’ve heard about.

        I also think they have a sense that whatever they’d get by paying money into a union, they’d get anyway.

        And, although this doesn’t apply to state workers, they’ve seen enough uniions get busted.

        • Al

          The ROI for me is clear, even before the union went and passed paid parental leave.

        • Kassie

          It is $6 a month difference and many of the people I’m talking about make more than $50k/year, some make as much as $100k/year.

          • Your dues are $6 a month?

          • Kassie

            Our membership dues, versus what is called Fee Payer or Fair Share, are $6 a month more. It is a weird government union thing. Everyone has to pay a basic rate for representation since we are a union shop, but then for $3.18 more a pay period they are members who can vote, run for office, get scholarships, etc.

        • Khatti

          The thing that will bring unions back is work getting so bad employees will be willing to try anything. Moral of story: It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

      • Al

        Interesting. I wonder if the memory of NOT having union protection is less… visceral for young people? (I’m a full member.)

        • Kassie

          I know you are, because I checked. I check on everyone I know and bug them if they aren’t. One interesting thing is I was asked about people who are using the Paid Parental Leave and would they make a statement about it. Every person I knew from my agency who had been using it was not a member.

          • Al

            Stalker. 🙂 (I kid.)

      • Rob

        My guess is that a couple of things are going on; one is that union membership has dwindled so markedly in the last couple of decades – thanks to all of the union-busting and the general hostility so many companies have toward unions – that a lot of younger workers don’t know very many people in their families or other social circles who are union members.

        The other thing is that our primary education system has generally been abysmal at teaching labor history. Most students graduate from high school with no clue as to how indispensable the labor movement in the U.S. has been to winning basic rights for workers.

        Other than that, it’s a wonderful world.

        • Kassie

          I think it might also be because when younger people come to the government work, they think it is short term work and don’t want to invest. When older people come, they either see the value of a government job and chose purposely to come or they came from another government job and saw the value of the union there.

          What young people don’t know is that most of the “old” people (I’m still under 40 for a few weeks, so I’m not talking about me!) working a government job once were young and thought it was just something to tide us over until we found something better. I really thought my first job at Hennepin County would be for a year so I could wipe some of my missteps off my resume and here I am 15 years later still in a union, still doing indirect work to support those same clients, still working for the government.

          • Rob

            I was thinking of the days when lots of jobs throughout the private sector were also unionized, not just government jobs. Before your time, for the most part…

          • Personally, I wouldn’t mind getting back into working for the government.

            /I worked for a larger metro school district in communications (graphic/web design) as well as the US Census Bureau back in the day

    • Khatti

      I think millennials need to consider several social innovations to ensure their future. The big one is probably to ditch monogamy and arrange your families in a more polyamorous grouping. It’s just going to be wiser to have more working adults under the roof than dependent children. Also the social skills you’ll have to develop in order to make a group marriage work will probably be useful in organizing other social institutions. I am being serious.

      • jon

        Communes have been a suggested solution to social strife for over 100 years…

        They’ve rarely worked out as well as they’ve promised.

        Many young people are already living in houses with several roommates… polyamory not required.

        Dual income households, with no children is also becoming more common.
        The fertility rate is already dropping, as people choose not to have kids, be it for financial or other reasons… This is not a good long term solution… our economy is built around the idea of a growing population, and a shrinking one is going to cause some large shifts in how things presently work (social security for one).

      • Al

        Yeah, I’ll bring that right up with the husband tonight.

        But I am actually a big proponent of multi-generational families. So, sort of?

        • Khatti

          Dude, unless Al is short of Alexa, you’re already involved in a marriage that was exotic twenty years ago. What exactly is the rational for stopping there?

          • Al

            It’s short for Allie, actually. But it’s easier to be not easily identified as female when online, for obvious reasons.

  • king harvest

    I love what I do and I love that I only do it 2 days a week. Less, actually, as I only worked 98 days this past year. Of course there are trade offs and many people, if not most, would not want to do that

  • AmiSchwab

    i work because i have to. 37.5 hours a week is plenty. i will never be rich while i do not have the greed needed. what good are cardone’s millions when he’s dead. in germany i’ve found a good work.life balance. of course 6 weeks paid vacation and paid sick leave kinda help.