The Importance Of A Work-Life Balance
In our busy nine-to-five societies, high-performance targets and going ‘above and beyond’ are seen by some as the norm. This is a fact of life in business, especially small to medium enterprises and startups; however, this should not stop an individual from questioning a poorly defined employment contract. Lack of clarity in normal working-hours can lead to serious overworking. This may inevitably result in conflict between the employer and employee. As shown in The Independent’s recent report, “Only one third of British employees are happy with their work-life balance”; and as we shall see, every nation, culture and individual has their own ideas on what constitutes a perfect balance.
In a recent survey from InterNations of nearly 13,000 expats from 188 countries worldwide, the countries with the best work-life balance were ranked. These expats are people who have worked in more than one country and are able to judge well. The ranking shows that those who are most satisfied with their work-life balance do not necessarily work fewer hours. With an average of 44.3 hours a week on the job: about three out of five are satisfied with their work-life balance (60%) and working hours (61%). And in most countries, they rate their lives abroad above average – for example in New Zealand (89%), Costa Rica (88%) and the Czech Republic (87%).
Denmark has the shortest working week of the countries listed. Perhaps it is this which attracts highly educated expats: nearly half (47%) of respondents have a Master’s degree or equivalent, and 12% even have a PhD, which is twice the global average. “I appreciate the work-life balance in Denmark, which I do not get anywhere else in the world,” says an expat from Indonesia.
Norway makes it into the top 10, with expats working 1.4 hours less than the global average (44.3 hours). “Work-life balance is very important here,” says a British expat. Despite the shorter working hours, 72 percent believe that they earn more than at a comparable home job (vs. 51 percent worldwide) – this is the largest proportion of expats among the top ten work-life balance countries.
For free and impartial advise for business owners and workers alike, ACAS have produced a helpful booklet – ‘Flexible working and work-life balance’. From the ACAS site, useful information on the legal requirements and best practice related to flexible working are available.
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