When experts make their annual ranking of the happiest countries in the world, certain nations seem to consistently make it to the top of the 156-item ranking.
Nordic countries like Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark have repeatedly led the ranks with the United States usually coming in around the 18th or 19th place. So, how do they do it?
What things are they doing differently than the rest of the world to come out the happiest year in and year out? Apparently it’s all about keeping a work-life balance.
Less Working Hours
Compared to the average American, who works around 44 hours a week, the Danish only clock in 37 hours as a full-time employee.
That doesn’t mean that they’re working less or getting less done though. It’s just that they see working long hours as a sign of inefficiency as it seems like employees can’t finish things in the allotted work hours.
Thus, a lot of Danish workers are able to leave work at 4 p.m. giving them some extra hours to spend with friends or pursuing other endeavors.
As an American expat in Copenhagen observes, Danes also see free time as the ‘most important thing they have’ and that they prefer to not use it to socialize with colleagues after hours.
Longer Paid Vacation
Another work benefit Danes enjoy that their American counterparts don’t is more paid time off.
Full-time workers in the European can country can expect to have five weeks of vacation time whatever position or field they’re in.
On the other hand, American employees, who’ve had five years of experience under their belt, only get 15 days or a little more than two weeks. Worse, a portion of workers don’t even get paid vacation at all.
The Stress Leave
While stress is something that all members of the world’s working force experience, Danish people are lucky because they have the safety net to take a ‘stress leave’ from work whenever things get too much. In fact, they can reportedly even receive $2,000 from the government during this time.
This is part of the country’s flexibility and security-focused labor market model, which gives businesses the ability to be flexible while giving employees security while in-between jobs.