National Work Life Week: 11-15 October 2021

October 11-15, 2021

Finding a suitable balance between work and daily living is a challenge that we all face. The ability to successfully juggle work, family commitments and a personal life is crucial if all members of the household are to maintain their well-being.

In recognition of National Work Life Week, we are looking at whether people in other countries have achieved a good, healthy balance between their work lives and their home lives. It seems everyone is affected by fatigue and stress but some countries have managed to counter burnout, promote well-being and make it easier for employees to have supportive flexible working practices.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental economic organisation with 38 member countries, Turkey is by far the country with the highest proportion of people working very long hours, with 33%, followed by Mexico with nearly 29% and Colombia with almost 27% of employees. Other countries with very long working hours include Costa Rica and South Korea.

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At the other end of the scale, the Dutch show a high work life balance, with 0.4% of employees working very long hours. They devote much of their time, around 16 hours per day, to sleeping, eating, and family time. Their education system is ranked high, with high reading literacy levels and high life satisfaction. Not surprisingly, they also rank well on the happiness and better life index, like Norway, with many satisfied with their clean air, water, and environment. Part-time work is the norm among female employees since the Dutch take into account work done at home. 65% of employed women work part-time. Although women work part-time more often, the Dutch still have a higher female employment rate than the rest of the world.

According to the OECD, Norway devotes 63% of their time to leisure, and only 11% of their employees work 50 hours or more. Norwegians are known for prioritising family life. They value education, with children choosing career paths early on in life. They also rank high on their gender equality score, with men and women as part of the workforce almost equally. Aside from that, Norway has been at the forefront of the health industry worldwide, keeping in mind both physical and mental health. It’s no wonder that they have a great emphasis on keeping healthy, especially at work.

In Germany (like in Spain), 4% of employees work long hours, while 65% of their day is spent on personal care or leisure, according to the OECD. The New Reconciliation Memorandum has been put in place by the German government to find out more about their progress on work life balance. They have put together policies that involve equal sharing of work among men and women, paving the way for gender equality. They’re also advocating more family care, such as a reduction of working hours for fathers and mothers, and more affordable childcare. The parental leave policy allows up to three years, one of the longest in the world.

Denmark has the shortest work week in the world, with employees only working for 37 hours. Overtime is discouraged, and Danes usually take their minimum of five-week vacation period during the summer. The Danish government likes to provide for the family, and includes financial support for families of young children, such as paid maternity and paternity leave.

It’s clear that a good work life balance starts with an emphasis on shorter work hours, as we see from Spain and Denmark; great health and family care, as Germany has shown; and a better environment for work, as shown by the Netherlands and Norway. These countries are leading the way in the fight against burnout and workplace stress.

Want to learn more? For tips on a country’s business and cultural etiquette visit the Resources section on our website.  Or visit our cultural Diversity and Inclusion pages to find out more about how we can support you and your global teams working habits.


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