working hours around the world

Working Schedules Around the World: Longer Hours Don’t Mean Better Results

We often hear about work-life balance, but where can you find the best working schedules around the world, and how satisfied are the people working in those countries? As this Harvard Business Review article points out, longer hours do not always correspond to better results, so where exactly are people the happiest with their work-life balance?

working hours around the world

At the top of the list for the least number of hours worked is The Netherlands, with an average of about 26.5 hours per week. In terms of job satisfaction, the Dutch report a satisfaction percentage of 82%, which makes it one of the countries with the highest level of job satisfaction.

At an average of 27 hours per week, Germany comes in a close second. That being said, Germany has a 76% satisfaction rate, so despite the similar number of hours worked compared to people in The Netherlands, their German counterparts are not quite as happy with their work-life balance.

Japan is the country with the highest level of satisfaction – 86% – and here the average number of hours worked per weeks is 33. This may be more hours per week compared to countries like Germany, The Netherlands, or Norway, but on average it is still a very decent number of hours per week, particularly when you factor in how satisfied people are with their situation.

In the United Kingdom the average work week is a bit longer, coming in at 34.5 hours per week. However, compared to Japan, the level of satisfaction is significantly lower, with people reporting a 75% level of satisfaction.

On average, Americans are even less satisfied with their work, coming in with a level of satisfaction of 74%. In terms of the average numbers of hours worked, Americans work less than their cousins on the other side of the pond: 31.8 hours.

South Korea has the same level of satisfaction as the United Kingdom, but people also work more hours-the weekly average is 40.2 hours. This makes for a lot of work and much satisfaction.

In contrast, Mexicans work on average 42.8 hours per week, but they also have an 85% level of satisfaction, putting them on par with their Dutch counterparts.

Greece is in the unfortunate position of having one of the lowest levels of satisfaction – 52% – as well as one of the highest weekly hour averages – 39 hours.

It should be noted that these numbers also factor in part-time positions, so the full-time averages will be higher in each of these countries.

The importance of work-life balance

As the numbers in some of these and other countries suggests, it is often not easy to find the right balance between work and private life. It is also important to remember that longer hours don’t necessarily mean better results; offering fewer hours may be a great way to boost the motivation you seek in your company and to increase the results.

Of course, your work-life balance will also change depending on the job you have. The method of motivation or the flexibility you offer your team should vary based on the industry you work in. As a manager, you should also consider not just the work-life balance, but also work-life integration, i.e. allowing yourself and your team to mix work and non-work-related activities.

These statistics offer a good insight into the working schedules around the world and can give you an idea of what countries your company should emulate when determining the number of hours your team must work each week. No matter what method you choose to motivate yourself and your team, make sure that it is tailored to your specific company, industry, and team, as only then can you hope to get the best level of productivity out of everyone involved.


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