Friday, August 19, 2022
UncategorizedUK vs. US Job Culture: 7 Surprising Differences and Similarities

UK vs. US Job Culture: 7 Surprising Differences and Similarities

Collaborative Post

The internet and remote work have opened up new opportunities for working with companies abroad. But there are a number of differences you may discover when you work for or with residents of another land. There are also remarkable similarities.

Below, we’ll consider a few contrasting and complementary aspects of UK and US work cultures.

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

1.  CVs vs. Resumes

In both countries, you will need to prepare a document outlining your skills and experience when applying for a job. And while these documents contain the same basic information, their names and formats differ.

In Britain, the curriculum vitae or CV is the document of choice. The CV is a detailed account of your career – where you went to school, your grades, where you’ve worked, awards, honours, hobbies, and interests. It is a static document that doesn’t really change – you just add to it. CVs are usually several pages in length.

American resumes, on the other hand, and generally limited to one page. They leave out some of the details, and they are tailored to each job application. For example,  you might highlight your customer service experience while applying for one job or your computer skills for another – even though you’re describing the same past experience.

Here’s the good news – online tools are available for building both CVs and resumes.

2.  Holidays

Generally, British companies offer more paid holiday leave than the U.S. – 20 days per year, on average.

The Expater explains, “Under US law, employers aren’t obliged to offer any paid annual leave. The average worker is granted ten days paid vacation. As for public holidays, employers can choose whether or not federal holidays like Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day and Veterans Day actually mean a day off work. While Christmas and New Year’s Day are holidays, other religious holidays like Good Friday, Yom Kippur and Eid al-Fitr are decided on a case by case basis.”

3.  Workplace Culture

According to one source, “timeliness, professionalism and lunchtime etiquette tie the UK and US together.” For example, in either country, you may see someone eating at their desk in order to get more work done. Both cultures are known for being relaxed and social, with employees often celebrating events together or socialising outside of work.

Communication, especially in relation to one’s own accomplishments, may differ. “In the US, it’s also common for people to talk up or brag about their accomplishments, while it’s the opposite in the UK.” And the British speaking style is regarded by many Americans as “understated, sarcastic and a little cynical.”

Said one observer, “Getting employees to work together as a team is a strong focus in the US, whereas in other cultures it might just be expected.” This may be due to the strong US focus on individual expression and rights.

4.  Working Hours

In both countries, many companies expect employees to work from 9 am to 5 pm (or a similar 8-hour schedule), five days per week.

Overtime is especially common in the US. “Unlike other countries, there’s no law setting the maximum hours of work per week. On average a full-time employee works 8.5 hours per day, or 44 hours per week.” Elsewhere, working long hours might signal that you’re not working hard enough or using your time wisely. In the U.S., however, this work ethic is lauded and anything else is considered lazy.

British workers may enjoy a greater work-life balance, as they usually don’t take their work home with them. American employees may be “on-call” via phone or email even during off-hours.

5.  Evaluation

“While some European nations can be quite direct in terms of evaluation,” says one commentator, “in the US appraisals tend to focus more on the praise and gently highlight areas of development.” Constructive criticism is more common in the UK.

6.  Family and Sick Leave

In the UK, full-time employees may expect up to 28 weeks of sick pay – and they are entitled to it by law. In the US, however, this is not required. Most offer some sick leave, but extensive sick leave is offered only by companies with a “competitive benefits package.”

In the U.S., there is no legal minimum paid leave for either mothers or fathers after the birth of a child. Most new moms get a few weeks of paid leave and up to 12 weeks of leave with no pay guarantee. Many fathers get no family leave at all but must use vacation days. Some companies are generous in making family allowances, while others are not.

“British women,” on the other hand, “can take off 52 weeks from work after having a baby with a maximum of £140.98 per week.”

7.  Travel Time

One source reports that travel time to and from work averages one hour and 38 minutes in the UK, but just 23 minutes in the US.

Related Stories