Top 10 countries with the best work-life balance, according to OECD

In countries like Mexico, Turkey, and South Korea, people are so overworked that there is no such thing as work-life balance. Employees have to strike a balance between work and personal life to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. If your work leaves you enough time to enjoy with family, friends, and yourself, you are good. Here we take a look at the top 10 countries with the best work-life balance.

Top 10 countries with the best work-life balance in the world

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The Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) has published its 2019 Better Life Index. The OECD compiled the ranking based on the percentage of employees working 50 hours a week or more. They also looked at the number of hours people get for leisure and personal care activities.

The OECD pointed out in its report that families are often the biggest victims of poor work-life dynamics. Long working hours affect a person’s ability to combine family commitments and personal care with work, which is necessary for the well-being of all the family members. The OECD encouraged the governments to step in to address the issue with flexible and supportive working practices.

These are the top 10 countries with the best work-life balance, according to the OECD’s Better Life Index.

10- Sweden

Sweden received an overall score of 8.4. Only 1.1% employees in the country work long hours (50 hours or more a week). That’s much lower than the OECD average of 11% employees working long hours. On average, Swedish employees devote 15.2 hours to personal care (eating, sleeping, etc) and leisure (spending time with friends and family, playing games, etc). Employees enjoy six weeks of paid vacation time. Parents can take up to 480 days of paid leave.

9- Germany

Germany received the same score as Sweden. About 4% German employees work very long hours. Full-time employees get 15.6 hours per day for personal care and leisure, well above the OECD average of 15 hours. Germany has an incredibly generous parental leave policy of up to three years per child. Germany has the shortest working hours among the OECD countries at 1,356 hours per year. But they tend to be more productive than employees in other countries.

8- Belgium

Full-time workers in Belgium devote 15.7 hours per day to personal care and leisure. Only 4.8% employees work very long hours. The Belgian government has been promoting flexible ways of working such as desk sharing and telecommuting to attract and retain talent. Belgium received a score of 8.4.

7- Norway

Scandinavian nations are among the best on almost every parameter of human development and prosperity. Only 2.9% full-time workers in the country work very long hours. Norwegians also enjoy fairly high job security. Employees in Norway get 15.6 hours a day for leisure and personal care. The country scored 8.5 on OECD’s Better Life Index.

6- Lithuania

People in this Baltic nation may not generate as much income as their counterparts in Norway or Germany. But Lithuanians enjoy a relatively better work-life balance. They scored 8.6 on the Better Life Index. It is one of the world’s most competitive economies. Lithuania is often referred to as a Baltic Tiger because of its rapid economic growth.

5- France

French employees devote 16.4 hours a day to personal care and leisure, meaning they work less than 8 hours a day on average. Only 7.7% full-time employees work very long hours. It scored 8.7 on the Better Life Index. The French law has established workweek as 35 hours. A couple of years ago, the country introduced a law that gives employees the “right to disconnect” from work emails after they leave the office.

4- Spain

The Spanish economy might not be in the greatest shape, but the country ranks near the top when it comes to work-life balance. Only 4% of full-time employees work very long hours. Workers devote 15.9 hours a day to leisure and personal care. However, the OECD pointed out that female employment in Spain is only 57.5%. Approximately 75% mothers re-enter the workforce only eight years after childbirth.

3- Denmark

Denmark scored 9.0 on the Better Life Index. Merely 2.9% workers in the country work very long hours. On average, full-time employees devote 15.9 hours to personal care and leisure. The Danes have one of the shortest workweeks in the world. The state provides childcare to children up to the age of six, allowing parents to go back to work with ease. Parents get 52 weeks of paid maternity leave.

2- Italy

In Italy, full-time workers devote close to 70% of their day (16.5 hours) to leisure and personal care. And only 4.1% employees work very long hours. Italy scored 9.4 on the Better Life Index. The Italian government provides free care and entertainment services to children of its employees.

1- The Netherlands

The Netherlands has the best work-life balance. Its workweek is incredibly short at just 30.3 hours. The country also has generous parental leave policies. According to the OECD, only 0.4% employees work very long hours. You should consider moving to the Netherlands if you want a better work-life balance, but the cost of living is sky-high in the country. The Netherlands scored 9.5 on the Better Life Index.



About the Author

Vikas Shukla
Although he has a background in finance and holds an MBA, Vikas Shukla is a technology reporter. He has a strong interest in gadgets, gizmos, and science. He writes regularly on these topics. - He can be contacted by email at vshukla@valuewalk.com