20 Countries With The Best Work-Life Balance

The best work-life balance is found in the Netherlands. Editorial credit: T.W. van Urk / Shutterstock.com.
The best work-life balance is found in the Netherlands. Editorial credit: T.W. van Urk / Shutterstock.com.

Work-life balance is the way one’s life is split between one's employment and the other segments of life. A preferred work-life balance model involves a fair split between one’s work and one’s personal life. One’s personal life may include activities such as hanging out with friends and family, taking part in community activities, devoting some time to religious and spiritual activities, and actively practicing self-care. The importance of a good work-life balance lies in the need to recognize that workers are more than just money-making machines. Employers can do this by providing adequate paid leave, giving their employees flexible working hours, and organizing family events and activities.

Countries With Highest Work-Life Balance


According to a 2017 index report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Netherlands ranks highest with regards to providing a work-life balance to its labour force, with the country getting a score of 9.3. While the average number of workers in OECD countries who work very long hours is 13%, only 0.5% of the Dutch workforce work very long hours. Furthermore, the gender equivalence of women workers to male workers is significantly higher than the average of OECD countries as 69.9% of Dutch women work, compared to 57.5% in the greater OECD region. However, since the Netherlands also has the problem of the woman being considered the primary caregiver, Dutch women spend two more hours working at home than men, and over 60% of the employed women work part-time. Thus, the chances of career progression for workers who are mothers are limited, and any skills they may have are not utilized properly.


Another country with a high work-life balance score is Denmark, with a score of 9.0. Denmark has often been cited as one of the happiest countries to live and work with, and their excellent work-life balance score is a contributory statistic to this. Only about 4% of Danish workers work very long hours, which is significantly lower than the OECD average. Furthermore, in Denmark, workers spend 66% of their waking hours on leisure activities (such as reading and watching TV), self-care and family-based activities, thus contributing to their happiness and general emotional wellbeing. In addition, Denmark has a concept called the flexjob, which last five hours, and in which the employers pay their employees based on the total effective work done, rather than the hours spent in the workplace. In some towns, workers are given permanent flexjobs once they clock forty years old. Denmark also has excellent gender labor policies, with salaries almost equal across genders, and a 78% employment rate for female workers between 25 and 54 years old.


France also as a high work-life balance score, scoring just less than Denmark at 8.9. This score is informed by only 8% of the workforce working very long hours, and the workers spending an average of 68% of their hours on leisure activities.

Other countries with high work-life balance scores are Spain (8.8), Belgium (8.6), Norway (8.5), Sweden (8.3), Germany (8.3), Russia (8.1), Ireland (7.9), Finland (7.9), Luxembourg (7.9), Hungary (7.8), Estonia (7.7), Italy (7.5), Slovakia (7.5), Czech Republic (7.4), Slovenia (7.2), Switzerland (7.2), and Canada (6.9).

20 Countries With the Best Work-Life Balance

RankCountryWork-Life Balance Rating
5Belgium 8.6
17Czech Republic7.4

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