​Google's unusual reply to a kid's plea over dad's hours

Silicon Valley is known for its hard-driving culture, with employees working late into the night or on weekends. While that might lead to spiffy new apps and programs, it doesn't always create a healthy work-life balance.

Take a young girl named Katie, whose father works at the most elite Silicon Valley company of them all, Google (GOOG). Frustrated by her father's six-day workweek, she penned a letter to express her feelings and plead for her father to receive a day off on his birthday.

"Dear google worker," she wrote. "Can you please make sure when daddy goes to work, he gets one day off. Like he can get a day off on Wednesday. Because daddy ONLY gets a day off on saturday." In two postscripts, she noted, "It is daddy's birthday!" and, "it is summer, you know."

Apparently her letter touched a soft spot within Google's managerial ranks. Google senior design manager Daniel Shiplacoff responded with a letter of his own, calling her request "thoughtful."

"On the occasion of his Birthday, and recognizing the importance of taking some Wednesdays off during the summer, we are giving him the whole first week of July as vacation time," he wrote. He also explained that her father "has been hard at work designing many beautiful and delightful things for Google and millions of people around the globe."

Google confirmed to CBS MoneyWatch that the letter is authentic. It declined to provide additional comment.

Still, while the letter may prove to some that Silicon Valley is a place with heart, there might be a nagging suspicion among some that heart-tugging pleas could backfire. After all, the tech industry values workers willing to put their personal lives on the back burner while they code away their evenings. Facebook (FB) chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has admitted to sneaking out for dinner with her family, but then later catching up with work at home.

The tech industry isn't the first to value a "company first" mindset, of course. Wall Street and law firms also have reputations for cultures requiring 60 or 80 hour workweeks, causing stress and havoc on personal lives. In Silicon Valley, the hours are so tough that an advocacy group has sprouted up to demand a return to the 40-hour workweek.

That may be trickling down into other industries, especially as smartphones and Internet connections allows employees to check into work at all times of the day. Even though the U.S. is the only industrialized country that doesn't guarantee paid vacation, Americans are terrible about taking the time they do receive, with workers using only half their eligible days off.

Even though Katie's father will have a vacation next week, if he's like most Americans, he'll still be checking in with work while trying to kick back.

  • Aimee Picchi

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