As always, Denmark ranks at the top of the list for countries that boast a high standing of living, healthy work-life balance and excellent career opportunities. Only 2% of employees work long hours and the time devoted to leisure and personal care is 16.31 hours per day.
Again, the Nordic countries prevail in terms of achieving a healthy work-life balance. According to the OECD, the average working hours is 1793 per year, with Norway based employees working an average of 1407 hours (far lower than the standard rate). Only 3% of employees work ‘long hours’ and a staggering 16.05 hours are devoted to leisure and personal care per day.
Employees in the Netherlands reportedly work the least number of hours per year according to the OECD, with 1378 hours worked per year. Gender equality is of primary importance for many workplaces and the number of female workers in employment in the Netherlands has risen dramatically in recent years. The number of employees working ‘very long hours’ is a mere 1%, whilst the time given to leisure and personal care is 16.06 hours each day.
The workplace structure in Finland is weighed in the favour of professionals who have families to care for. Many companies provide subsidized childcare, helping those wishing to return to work after caring for their young child. Only 4% of employees in Finland reportedly work very long hours, whilst 15.95 hours is given to leisure and personal care daily.
In a similar way to the Netherlands, employees in Belgium work fewer hours per year (1550) than the OECD reported average (1739). Only 4% of employees are said to work long hours, and 16.61 hours are dedicated to personal care and leisure daily, helping employees to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Switzerland is a well-loved location amongst nationals and foreign workers alike. Those who are lucky enough to reside and work in Switzerland often sing praises of the country and their employers. With an average of 6% of employees working longer than average hours, the work-life balance is very much in the employees’ favour. The OECD report states that 15.74 hours are devoted to leisure time in Switzerland.
According to the OECD report 2011, 65% of an employee’s day in Sweden is spent socializing, eating, sleeping, and taking up hobbies amongst other things. A mere 1% of the workforce work longer than average hours and 15.48 hours are dedicated each day to leisure and personal care.
5% of employees work very long hours in Germany, whilst 16.14 hours are dedicated each day to leisure and personal care such as eating, sleeping, hobbies and socializing. Germany has a very productive economy and is well known for its competitive marketplace. Job opportunities are highly sought after here and the work-life balance is considered very good.
Employees in Portugal devote 15.27 hours every day to personal care and leisure activities, which allows the 65% of working women with children to care for their families whilst keeping their job. The work-life balance in Portugal is very good and sways in favour of the employee.
The employment rate for women is well above the OEDC average and a high investment in ‘family policies’ is testament to the healthy work-life balance the country promotes. Whilst 9% of employees work long hours (slightly more than the previously mentioned Nordic countries), employees still devote 16.06 hours of their day to socializing, leisure and personal care.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance is a goal that many working professionals fail to achieve in their lifetime. Due to a competitive marketplace, many companies now require employees to put in long hours, work weekends, avoid taking time off for holidays, and to always keep their eyes onthe prize so to speak! Essentially, the harder you work and the more hours you put in, the more likely it is that you will progress in the workplace; but this mentality and work ethic is unhealthy and could lead to poor health. It is therefore important that you work in a company (and in a country) that promotes a healthy work-life balance - if this means relocating overseas, then so be it!
Here is a list of the top 10 countries with the healthiest work-life balance. (The list comes from a report from the OECD in 2011).