Wellness in France

I remember the first time I went to Europe was in college.  I took a semester abroad in London and then journeyed over to Europe a few times while I was there and then for an extended trip before returning to the states.  I still remember how enamored I was with the European lifestyle. Long lunches, short work days, eating and family first, etc.  I just seemed to good to be true and it ends up I was right.  Years of smoke and mirrors in regards to each countries GNP but the traditions of enjoying life are set in stone.

Each country is small in comparison to US which make the majority of them insanely homogenous and not very friendly to outsiders that don’t look the same or behave the same.  France has not been very open to immigrants to say the least and we have witnessed what happens with that behavior.  Regardless France has universal health care, incredible school lunches, generous vacation time and more.  It is hard not to be enamored with the French lifestyle.

The latest and greatest in France is a law that goes into effect that puts a ban on work-related email after hours.  Perhaps not the best analogy but some countries in Europe do not believe that homework makes a difference and everything should be done within the school hours.  Supposedly this law will push more employees to connect during business hours and create a clear distinction between professional and personal life.  It is their way of preserving French traditions yet understanding the realities of the world today.

These days our personal life tend to blend in with our professional lives although the rapid speed of wellness and health is making its way into companies and our personal lives at lightening speed.  There is something to be said for sleep, balance, taking care of your own mental health, making sure that you don’t ignore those personal relationships for work and more.

Not sure a law will be passed like this in the US anytime ever but it is interesting to see what other countries are doing to seek balance in the 21st Century.

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Yup, and Germany has had that same law for almost 3 years. I thought you were going to mention another law France passed a couple of days ago; that everybody is an organ donor by default now. https://www.google.ca/amp/s

    1. Gotham Gal

      I saw the donor law too. Brilliant.

    2. Susan Rubinsky

      I know someone who refuses to be an organ donor because he thinks the sickest people should not be first in line to get the organs. He thinks that the people who are most likely to get the best benefit should be first in line. I agree with him on that point. The way in which organs are now assigned needs to be rethought. However, I am still an organ donor despite the flawed system.

      1. William Mougayar

        Interesting insight. You’re right that the other side of the coin is knowing how the donations get prioritized.

    3. German-guest

      I’m German and certain that there is no such law in Germany. There are, however, some bigger companies that are trying to enforce something like that (e.g. big car manufacturers ), i.e. employees not having access to their work email after a certain hour.

      1. William Mougayar

        Wow, thanks for clarifying, so these are “guidelines” it appears?So much for fake news that are reported as such:”Germany’s employment ministry has banned its managers from calling or emailing staff out of hours except in emergencies, under new guidelines intended to prevent employees from burning out.”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…orGerman minister calls for anti-stress law ban on emails out of office hourshttps://www.theguardian.com…

  2. awaldstein

    Not a believer in this separation.The world doesn’t have this distinction, neither should business and I don’t see how this can’t be managed to respect people on all sides.I posted this last year. I still believe in it completely:http://arnoldwaldstein.com/

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      I think human beings had a blended lifestyle before the industrial age. Life is work and work is life. It’s all interconnected. We were disrupted by industry but for the first time since then (in recent years) technology has given us a lifeline back to the lifestyle human beings crave.It’s also interesting to note, that there are anthropologists who think that human beings have had plenty of leisure time for much of their existence.However, I understand GG’s point. They are basically legislating balance and not allowing companies to hijack people from their lives. This really does happen to many people. All us blog followers are mostly free agents, which is an unusual position.

      1. awaldstein

        We are going to have to disagree a bit on this one.I think integration and respect and organization is the issue.For the companies I consult with or am invested in would i recommend they hire anyone who is gone from 5pm to 9am?For no job that I can describe honestly. It is unnatural.History informs but the the world and culture is different. I start there and we need new ways not old ones I think.

        1. Cam MacRae

          Coming in between 9am and 5pm is what is unnatural. It’s a ridiculous hangover from a brief industrial era. In any event, I used to kill myself at work in the way that many New Yorkers do. I thought my boss, a wily southern billionaire, was thrilled. Turns out he wasn’t. His respect was directed to the folks who turned up and got shit done and then got on with the rest of their lives. Lesson learned.I wouldn’t work for a clock watcher for all the tea in China.

          1. awaldstein

            You are misreading the topic.It is not about coming in anywhere it is about being dedicated and available to do a job that spans the hours. Not the same thing.I own a food business with retail on the side. If you don’t have employees that adhere to working at certain times you have no business.

          2. Cam MacRae

            Or you’re not being particularly clear.If by “gone from 5pm to 9am” and “dedicated and available to do a job that spans the hours” you mean to write a contract for x compensated hours, or to write a performance based contract with unambiguous milestones then I’m right with you.However, if you mean to write a contract for x compensated hours but expect x + y hours, well… on one side of that trade is a sucker and on the other is a jerk.

          3. awaldstein

            often the case

      2. Twain Twain

        One of the best experiences is food shopping in the markets of Boulevard Richard-Lenoir in Paris before browsing the artisanal shops of Le Marais followed by an afternoon along the Left Bank, stopping by art galleries en route. The French, like most Continental Europeans, live well.There was a great documentary on why the Industrial Revolution happened in the UK and not in France — even though it had great scientists and philosophers. It was to do with monarchic controls and political constraints.In the future, there’ll likely be documentaries on why the Second Industrial Revolution (AI) happened in the US — even though it was British minds who conceived of AI (Turing), computing (Babbage+Lovelace) and the Internet (Sir Tim Berners-Lee).https://www.youtube.com/wat

  3. LE

    Laws like this assume, probably correctly, that the ‘average’ person worker wants downtime and doesn’t want work related duties after hours. And that a general rat race and keeping up with the Jones (or whatever the French equivalent surname is) prevents any individual from acting in their own self interest. Got to keep up with the competition. I can think of reasons why this is good and reasons why bad. But one thing I note though is that it applies to companies with more than 50 employees so it actually seems good for small business trying to get a leg up on large corporate competition. Was the pitch that worked for me in the first business that I had way back when selling against Xerox Corp.I think this also boils down to what you do for a living. Some people have jobs that for whatever reason they would dread having to answer an email while on vacation. And some people have work that they actually enjoy having a bit of email even when on vacation (let alone at night). Back when I had my shore place I used to run off the beach to the Starbucks to answer emails and I liked that. How much can you sit around doing nothing and reading a book? People also differ with their obligations after hours in terms of what they are doing, where they are, and so on. In any case I don’t think this is the governments responsibility to stick it’s nose into this issue, it simply doesn’t rise to the appropriate level of danger.Lastly, if you have a small business most likely you can’t even imagine taking France or European style vacations time wise. Nor would you want to if you enjoy what you do.