Finland is the happiest country to work
With a happiness index score of 7.82, Finland is the happiest nation in Europe. In 2021, the Northern European nation was also named the happiest place in the world for the fourth year running (with Denmark second and Switzerland third).
The Helsinki Times has attributed the nation's happiness to its beautiful natural landscapes and generally chill way of life. Low crime levels, high standards of living, and a renowned education system are also significant factors.
Estonia offers the most statutory annual leave
Offering a statutory 39 days of paid vacation time (28 days of annual leave and 11 public holidays), Estonia has the highest total number of mandatory annual leave in the top 30 countries in Europe. This tops Iceland and Austria who each offer 38 days of statutory paid annual leave.
What about paid maternity leave? Inside our top ten, Estonia once again tops the list alongside Luxembourg and Poland – each provides 20 weeks of paid maternity leave at 100% of base salary. Countries such as the United Kingdom, Finland, and Greece offer a longer period of maternity leave but at a reduced wage.
Luxembourg has the highest minimum wage
By offering a minimum wage of the equivalent of $14.26 (USD) per hour, Luxembourg tops our list regarding basic salary. Employers in Luxembourg must also pay men and women the same salary for equivalent job roles.
Fixed-term contracts and part-time employees are also covered by regulations around the conditions of salary. Both types of workers are to be paid at the same level as a full-time employee in an equivalent role (with part-time workers being paid pro rata).
What is life-work balance (and its impact on your personal life)?
Life-work balance is a culture of work that understands the importance of family commitments as well as your own wellbeing. In a country that practices a good life-work balance, your time should be flexible and not dictated by employment. You should have enough time to look after yourself and those close to you, as well as sleeping properly, exercising, and eating a well-balanced diet. By putting life ahead of work, we hope to reframe how the world holds conversations about how we spend our time.
Personal care and family life come first. The pressures of work can often make us oblivious to this fact. A good life-work balance will see you meet deadlines and excel in your role without having to work long hours that negatively impact personal health.
However, many employees still work long hours and enjoy little time of their own. In the United Kingdom (despite ranking in the top 10 of our index), for example, one study suggests the average worker puts in 10.1 hours of overtime per week, 59% of which is unpaid. In total, 61% of people feel they have a poor work-life balance.
Poor work-life balance can result in a host of consequences for physical and emotional health, not to mention one's social life. The ability to combine work with other responsibilities and needs successfully is critical to reap the benefits of remote work in personal life.
Nations and businesses that confirm life-work balance as policy can quickly improve the overall quality of life for employees. As a bonus, people tend to be more engaged with their work and see an increase in productivity. Physical health improves too, with fewer cases of absence and illness.
What changed compared to 2022?
The 2023 update to the European Life-Work Balance Index added new ranking factors to more accurately portray and evaluate the life-work balance quality in each European nation.
Choosing to include data on average working hours and LGBTQ+ inclusivity across the Old Continent has allowed us to better define life-work balance in line with values such as diversity, equity, and inclusion synonymous with the modern workplace.
The addition of new ranking factors had a significant influence on a country's positioning in our European index compared to 2022.
Key position changes
- Luxembourg and Spain remain in the one and two spots as the only European nations inside the top 10 to retain their 2022 position.
- France enters the top three up from fifth last year, with Denmark jumping into the top five from position 10 in 2022.
- From position 28 in 2022, the United Kingdom breaks into the top 10 at position seven as one of the biggest risers in our index alongside Estonia (who also enter the top 10).
- Germany falls from the top five down to 12th. Poland and Italy also drop out of the top 10.
The 2023 European Life-Work Balance Index observed large swings across the continent as we continue to see greater trends toward life-work balance across the world. Do you want to see how Europe compares to the rest of the world? Check out our Global Life Work Balance Index for the worldwide rankings.
Here at Remote, we want to champion countries, companies, and organizations that prioritize providing their employees with the best possible life-work balance, so that together, we can all access a fulfilling career. If you’re looking to relocate or explore working in a different country, see how we can help with our employer of record services today.