0011 top 9 countries with greatest work life balance
Busy employee chained to his office desk. Photo: Picfair

Scroll down to find out the top 9 countries with the greatest work-life balance according to the OECD Better Life Index:


74% of those aged 15 to 64 who are employed, or more than half of the working population, work part-time, "a far greater share than in any other rich-world country." Furthermore, a "dual income was frequently not a necessity for a comfortable life" in the Netherlands because of its wealth.

In addition to working less—26.8% of men and 76.6% of women work fewer than 36 hours per week—they also engage in more physical activity. According to a study by the British Heart Foundation, most people engage in moderate exercise at least four days per week.3Additionally, employees are entitled to 20 vacation days in the Netherlands. The Mother Nature Network claims that even though that is less than in most other nations, workers are given additional money to take vacations.

Additionally, this is on top of the salary you continue to receive during the weeks you are skydiving or snorkeling, so this isn't just a simple "paid vacation."

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Photo: Flitinc

It makes sense that the Netherlands would consistently rank among the happiest nations in the world. Self-ratings of life satisfaction by its inhabitants were 7.3 out of 10. In fact, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, three countries in central-western Europe, have perfected the work-life balance. Something must be in the water.


Depending on the parent's work schedule, the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance also provides a free child care program in Rome, which is staffed by qualified childcare specialists. Italians' work-life balance is significantly improved as a result, with 76% of users stating that the program is a great addition to their lives.

The workday is frequently broken up into a few hours of work followed by il riposo, or a break for rest, so that employees can go home and prepare a meal, spend time with their families, and take some time to themselves before heading back to work. This breaks up the workday and encourages employees to take a more leisurely approach. Italy has also risen in the rankings for work-life balance due to its dedication to making working parents' lives easier.

The workplace helps expectant mothers by giving them three to six months of leave before and after delivery. Many Italians express high levels of satisfaction when they have this balance between their personal and professional lives.


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A happy Danish employee. Photo: The Major.EU

Denmark not only prides itself on having the best work-life balance in the world, but also on being the happiest nation in the world. Denmark "prides itself on having a healthy work-life balance," with flexible working hours and a welfare system that includes child care facilities and maternity leave, according to the official government website.

While a new generation of mom-friendly businesses are paving the way for better parental policies in the US—we're looking at you, Netflix and Honest Co.—the majority of them provide nothing at all. All new parents in Denmark are entitled to a 52-week parental leave that is paid, with mothers receiving an additional two weeks before giving birth.

However, Denmark is praised for more than just its parental leave. In terms of education, employment, income, wealth, and personal security, it also performs better than average. In Denmark, over 73% of people between the ages of 15 and 64 are employed, and only 2% of them put in "very long hours," one of the lowest percentages in the OECD. Overall, Danes rate their lives as being more satisfied, giving them a score of 7.5 out of 10, which is among the highest ever recorded.


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Podemos politician Carolina Bescansa with her baby in Congress. Photo: El Pais

If you've ever taken an afternoon nap in Spain, you'll understand how well-balanced the work/life balance is in this stunning nation. Even full-time workers in Spain spend more time each day on "leisure and personal care than people in any other country in the world."

In actuality, they eat, socialize, and indulge in hobbies for more than 16 hours each day. Only 6% of those who are employed work an average of 50 hours or more per week. Despite this, Spaniards generally are less content than people in most other nations, rating their level of happiness in life at 6.5 out of 10. Average life satisfaction in the OECD is 6.6. The fact that Spain is the second-worst country for employment opportunities, closely followed by Greece, as well as their low scores in environmental quality, education, and income, may be the cause of this discrepancy.


France is currently in fifth place and has been praised for its work-life balance due to the 16.4 hours per day that employees can spend on personal care. This is the time that the French prioritize for rest, good nutrition, and socializing, and because it is a cultural value, it significantly enhances employee mental health and workplace satisfaction. France is so committed to this idea that in 2017, they passed a law known as the "right to disconnect," which forbids businesses with more than 50 employees from allowing their employees to send emails after a certain time. No more staying up late replying to emails that haven't been opened.

In addition to this, French businesses frequently give workers a generous two-hour lunch break, during which many can go home to spend time with their families before returning, contributing to overall worker satisfaction. France's gender inequality gap is getting smaller thanks to fertility rates that are higher than the OCED average and a higher employment rate for women aged 25 to 54.


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Vilnius Old Town in Lithuania. Photo: Pinterest.

Only 0.5% of employees in Lithuania work what the OCED classifies as "long hours," which is much less than the global average of 11%. Due to their increased leisure time, Lithuanians are expressing greater satisfaction with their working conditions and more time for personal pursuits.

With one of the longest maternity and paternity leave policies in Europe—over 5 months of paid leave—Lithuania is also making efforts to help expectant mothers achieve a better work-life balance. The reason Lithuanians rank as the fifth-happiest country in all of Europe may be due to this.


As of 2019, the Legatum Institute's Prosperity Index ranked Norway as the second-most prosperous country in the world. Job security is also very high because it is "uncommon for employees to be fired for underperforming" after the initial three-month trial period, according to Life in Norway.

Norway once more leads the world in terms of equality. In terms of overall equality, Norway tops the world according to the Human Development Index, despite having some of the lowest paid CEOs globally in comparison to other employees. Norwegians rarely work past regular business hours because they place a high value on efficiency; only 3% of them put in extremely long hours.

Families are very important, and many workers receive time off from work to pick up their kids from school. Parents can also take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave together. They give their lives a 7.4 out of 10 satisfaction rating, which is very high.


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Photo: The Bulletin.

Belgians are among the top 10 nations for work-life balance because they live to work rather than the other way around. Working remotely is becoming more popular even though only 5% of people who are employed full-time receive overtime. The desire of workers is "more time with their families and less time lost in commuting."

Belgians take more annual vacations than people in North America. You are entitled to 20 days of annual leave in addition to 10 public holidays if you work an average of five days per week throughout the course of the year. The amount of parental leave is also generous, with women being allowed to stay at home for up to 15 weeks overall and up to six weeks before delivery. Within the first month, fathers are allowed to take 10 days off. Belgians give their lives an overall satisfaction rating of 6.9 out of 9.


Germans are known for their exceptional efficiency because the nation is a global leader in industry. But they strictly work during business hours, putting in diligent effort. Germans work 35 hours on average per week, which is less than most other nations. They are required by law to take at least 20 paid vacation days annually, which is the third-highest number in the world, but their output is even higher.

Working hours in German business culture are intended for working, claims the Huffington Post. "An employee should not be doing anything besides their work while they are at work." This means that while they are incredibly focused and diligent at work, they also know how to play hard after clocking out. They "value a separation between private life and working life" and "off hours are truly off hours."

They rate their lives at 7 out of 10 on the OECD scale, indicating that they are more satisfied with them as a result of the separation. The Germans demonstrate that less really does equal more, contrary to American perceptions that longer hours lead to higher productivity.


A healthy balance between one's professional and personal life is a concern shared by people everywhere. It would appear that certain nations have a greater awareness than others of the importance of ensuring their citizens maintain a healthy equilibrium between the demands of their jobs and the quality time they get to spend with their families and friends.

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