WORK-LIFE BALANCE / NOV. 21, 2015
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Top 10 Countries for Work-Life Balance in 2015

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1. Denmark
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Denmark remains the country to which we should all emigrate: an enviable 2% of its citizens work very long hours (i.e.: 50 or more hours a week as an average) compared with the OECD average of 13% - a percentage that crawls up each year. The standard working week in Denmark is also pretty short at 37 hours.

Danes in full-time employment spend 67% of their day (16.1 hours) on looking after themselves (the OECD average is 15 hours on personal care and leisure). It’s an added bonus for Danes that they can enjoy, on average, up to five weeks’ paid holiday, according to the website you should go to next: Work in Denmark.

Image source: The Telegraph

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s most recent Better Life Index identifies those countries within the OECD that offer the best quality of life. To compile its index, the organization studies a range of government-level data and opinion surveys on a number of quality of life variables (23 indicators divided into 11 categories), variables which include that elusive goal common to us all: work-life balance.

See Also: Jobs That Offer Good Work-Life Balance [Infographic]

Work-Life Balance Indicators

The OECD’s work-life balance ranking uses two headline indicators to determine the work-life balance ratings of 36 countries. The proportion of employees working very long hours (the data excludes the self-employed who may choose to work long hours) is the first indicator, unsurprising since there is enough evidence to demonstrate the impact of long work hours on a person’s health and general wellbeing. Only 13% of OECD employees work 50 hours or more, the definition applied for “very long hours”. This suggests that the work-life balance in the region is pretty decent. Turkey is the country with the highest proportion of people burning the midnight oil (41%); by contrast, in Scandinavian countries, such long hours are rare, with around 1-3% of the working population working 50-plus hours on a regular basis. And it won’t come as a galloping shock that male employees work for much longer hours than female workers (17% for men vs. 7% for women).

The second indicator used to evaluate work-life balance is that of time devoted to leisure and personal care, using data collected from national Time Use surveys. The longer you work, the less time you can devote to having, well, a life. According to the OECD’s analyses, a full-time OECD employee invests more than three-fifths of the day (62% or around 15 hours) on average on what it describes as “personal care” (i.e.: eating and sleeping) and leisure activities (i.e.: having fun). Bizarrely, although women in the OECD spend less time than men in paid employment, they devote roughly the same amount of time to personal care and leisure activities.

Measuring work-life balance will always be a challenging task. This is because the way people allocate their time will be heavily influenced by a range of factors that cannot accurately be captured through surveys: individual preferences, cultural and social contexts, and necessity, for example. The results from the OECD analysis should, therefore, be interpreted in the light of these factors. Still, if you’re desperate for a better work-life balance, have a look at these 10 countries.

See Also: 4 Best Apps to Improve Work Life Balance

Do you live and work in any of these countries? Do you agree with the findings? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

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