It is the season for some frantic last-minute math—across the country, employees of all stripes are counting backward in an attempt to figure out just how much paid time-off they have left in their reserves. More of them, though, will skip those calculations altogether and just power through the holidays into 2017: More than half of American workers don’t use up all of their allotted vacation days each year.
Not so long ago, people would have turned up their noses at that kind of dedication to the job. As marketing professors Silvia Bellezza, Neeru Paharia, and Anat Keinan recently explained in Harvard Business Review (HBR), leisure time was once seen as an indicator of high social status, something attainable only for those at the top. Since the middle of the 20th century, though, things have turned the opposite way—these days, punishing hours at your desk, rather than days off, are seen as the mark of someone important.
In a series of several experiments, the researchers illustrated just how much we’ve come to admire busyness, or at least the appearance of it. Volunteers read two passages, one about a man who led a life of leisure and another about a man who was over-worked and over-scheduled; when asked to determine which of the two had a higher social status, the majority of the participants said latter. The same held true for people who used products that implied they were short on time: In one experiment, for example, customers of the grocery-delivery service Peapod were seen as of higher status than people who shopped at grocery stores that were equally expensive; in another, people wearing wireless headphones were considered further up on the social ladder than those wearing regular headphones, even when both were just used to listen to music.
In part, the authors wrote in HBR, this pattern may have to do with the way work itself has changed over the past several decades.
We think that the shift from leisure-as-status to busyness-as-status may be linked to the development of knowledge-intensive economies. In such economies, individuals who possess the human capital characteristics that employers or clients value (e.g. , competence and ambition) are expected to be in high demand and short supply on the job market. Thus, by telling others that we are busy and working all the time, we are implicitly suggesting that we are sought after, which enhances our perceived status.
Even if you feel tempted to sacrifice your own vacation days for fake busyness, though, at least consider leaving your weekends unscheduled. It’s for your own good.
1. frantic adj. 疯狂的；狂乱的
2. stripe n.条纹；种类
3. attempt v. 尝试
4. reserve v. 保留；储备
5. allot v. 分配
6. calculate v. 计算
7. turned up one’s noses adj. 轻视、蔑视
8. indicator n.指标
9. attain v. 获得
10. oppose v. 反对
11. illustrate v. 论证、阐释
12. schedule n. 时刻表
13. majority n.大多数； minority n.少数
14. shift v.转移
15. intensive adj.加强的；集中的
16. possess v.拥有
17. competence n.能力
18. implicitly adv. 含蓄地；暗示地
19. enhance v. 增强
20. perceive v.察觉；感知
不久前，人们会对这种对工作的奉献精神嗤之以鼻。正如市场营销学教授Silvia Bellezza，Neeru Paharia和Anat Keinan最近在《哈佛商业评论》（HBR）中所解释的那样，闲暇时间曾经被看作是高社会地位的一种指标，只有高阶人士才能达到这一目标。但是，自20世纪中叶以来，情况发生了相反的变化：如今，花在办公桌上的时间，而不是休息日，被视为重要人物的标志。