The Top 10 Countries for Work-Life Balance

May 23, 2016

4:00 pm

Life is about more than sitting at a desk. And if you are looking for the key to happiness when it comes to job satisfaction, look no further than work-life balance. Not only does this professional commodity prevent health issues, it also fosters creativity and reduces stress. And while you might think the US is doing great at providing a balance between life and work, they didn’t even make the top 10.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development “Better Life Index,” Denmark is the number one country for work-life balance. After the northern European city, countries with impressive scores included Spain, Netherlands and Belgium. Check out the other countries that made the list in the selection from the OECD:

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While the US didn’t make the top 10, they were fortunately not at the bottom of the list. Countries like Chile, Israel, Japan and the Republic of Korea boasted the worst work-life balance, with huge percentages of the population working more than 14 hours a day. On the contrary, the US reported only 12 percent of employees were working “very long hours,” a full 1 percent lower than the global average.

The US did, however, rank as low as 27 out of 38 when it came to overall work-life balance. While “very long hours” were considered an important factor in determining the top countries, there were other aspects that made a significant impact. For example, the US was the only OECD country without a national paid paternal leave policy in place. This affected their child well-being score as well as their labor market scores, keeping them in the lower half of the list.

“Many organizations and corporations are so focused on profits and other efficiency indicators that they ignore workplace stress and provide insufficient vacation and sick days,” says Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. “In some instances, organizations and their cultures are literally killing people and also contributing to their mental and physical distress. We can build successful organizations that are also sustainable in terms of their effects on people.”

And yes, work-life balance is still incredibly important to the everyday employee. While benefits and financial incentives remain the cream of the crop when it comes to employee perks, work-life balance is important to 64 percent of employees in the job market. It draws in potential candidates, it shows current workers that you care, and it cultivates a cooperative ecosystem between employees and employers. So why are corporations and countries still pretending like it doesn’t matter? The data is out there and the tests have been conclusive. But still, companies and CEOs are keeping their eyes on the bottom line at the expense of themselves and their employees.

Will the US ever adopt the global standard of paid paternal leave? Hopefully. Will corporations stop thinking that cutting corners will line their wallets? Unlikely. But the more data we throw at them, the more convincing their ineptitude will appear. And that’s all we can really do.

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Senior Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Funding Q&A at Innovate! and Celebrate, posing questions to notable tech minds from around the world. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Senior Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at conor@tech.co.

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