Countries with the happiest workers, best companies in the world

Employee happiness can be a complex thing. What actually makes an employee happy? It’s not just about the salary at the end of the month. It’s much more nuanced than that. Photo: Loving Life

Employers and workers are in a tug-of-war over the future of work-life balance, with diverging priorities and preferences becoming increasingly apparent. A study by Randstad revealed that while 56% of workers still identify as ambitious, nearly half (47%) are now more interested in achieving balance and belonging than climbing the career ladder. Flexibility and mental health support are becoming paramount, with 37% of employees willing to quit if asked to spend more time in the office, and 39% insisting on the non-negotiability of remote work.

Despite some companies’ push for a return to the office, the landscape of work arrangements remains in flux. High-paying remote and hybrid job opportunities have decreased, while in-person postings have surged. Yet, most companies are maintaining hybrid work models, with only 4% of US CEOs prioritizing full-time office returns.

According to a Ford survey conducted among 16,086 employees across 16 countries, including France, the USA, Brazil, and China, a staggering 52% of respondents would be willing to accept a 20% pay cut for a better work-life balance. Notably, younger generations are more inclined to make this trade-off compared to older counterparts. While 80% express commitment to their current jobs, three-quarters believe it’s unwise to work in roles inducing daily stress. Companies increasingly recognize the importance of work-life balance, implementing measures like remote work and the four-day week. Furthermore, 60% of respondents advocate for artificial intelligence integration to better manage personal and professional responsibilities, foreseeing its potential impact on employee well-being.

According to Utilitybidder, SAP SE (NYSE:SAP) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) are two of the top companies with the happiest employees in 2024, with a commendable score of 4.4 each.

Additionally, SAP SE (NYSE:SAP) garnered a higher rating on Glassdoor, achieving a notable 4.5 out of 5, compared to a slightly lower score of 4.3 on Indeed. Notably, SAP SE (NYSE:SAP), holds the distinction of being the largest non-American multinational technology company.

With an array of different services, including healthcare coverage, retirement plans, and more, SAP SE (NYSE:SAP)  goes beyond the basics to provide a comprehensive package. The company’s commitment to employee well-being is evident in its global and local benefit options, aiming to support a healthy work-life balance. Moreover, SAP SE (NYSE:SAP)  dedication to diversity and inclusion is reflected in its Employee Network Groups (ENGs) that promote a sense of belonging and community among employees worldwide. In 2022 alone, SAP SE (NYSE:SAP) employees collectively dedicated over 117,000 volunteer hours to various causes.

On the other hand, on Glassdoor, Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) achieved a score of 4.5 from its reviewers, compared to 4.3 on Indeed.

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However, it is also interesting to note how in 2023, Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) implemented major cost-cutting measures, aiming for “multi-year” savings. The company reduced employee perks like fitness classes and transportation programs due to shifting work patterns.  Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) also said they plan to optimize equipment usage by pausing laptop refreshes and providing Chromebooks by default while tightening expense policies for accessories. Notably, some office supplies like staplers and tape were also no longer provided.

30 Countries With The Happiest Workers in The World

Yuganov Konstantin/

Our Methodology

To list the countries with the happiest workers in the world, we have relied on 3 indexes. Firstly, we have looked at Remote’s Global Life-Work Balance Index. Secondly, we analyzed the Utlitybidder’s list of the countries with the happiest workers.

Lastly, we utilized Entrepreneur’s infographic about the countries with the happiest workers. We have employed the first two indexes primarily but in cases where one country is present in the first but absent from the second, we utilized the third index. The ranking of the work-life balance index along with the happiness ranking has been averaged to obtain an average rank. The list is now presented in ascending order.

Please note that in cases where two or three countries share a similar average rank, the country with a higher happiness score was ranked higher.

Here is a list of countries with the happiest workers in the world

30. Turkey

Work-Life Balance: 45

Happiness: 35

Average Rank: 40

Turkey is situated in Asia and has a population of approximately 85,674,652. The country scores 42.7 on the Life-Work Balance Index. Statutory annual leave is 66.7 days, while the minimum statutory sick pay percentage is 6.52%. Turkey operates a universal public-private insurance system which ensures healthcare coverage. The Happiness Index is 29.1, and the average hours worked per week is 38.

29. Malaysia

Work-Life Balance: 59

Happiness: 13

Average Rank: 36

The recent survey by Randstad Malaysia reveals that 50% of working Malaysians are ready to quit for better work-life balance, with 16% more returning to fully office-based work in 2023 compared to the previous year. Flexible working options are valued by 96% of respondents, while non-monetary benefits are crucial for 87%.

28. United States

Work-Life Balance: 54

Happiness: 6

Average Rank: 30

In the US, employees work an average of 1,750 hours annually which surpasses counterparts in the UK, France, and Australia. While the work-life balance may not be so great but owing to the high salaries in the country, employees tend to be happy. It is one of the best places to live and work.

27. United Arab Emirates

Work-Life Balance: 49

Happiness: 10

Average Rank: 29.5

In the UAE, 72% of residents affirm a safe environment for children. Work-life balance is key, with 75% prioritizing it, and 60% receiving employer support. Maternity benefits surpass global standards in the UAE, offering 9 weeks’ full pay in Dubai. It is one of the countries with the highest job satisfaction.

26. Mexico

Work-Life Balance: 10

Happiness: 48

Average Rank: 29

Mexico implemented a 20% raise in its minimum wage effective January 1, 2023, increasing it to 207.44 pesos ($11.54) per day from the previous $172.87. In the Free Zone of the Northern Border, the wage rose to 312.41 pesos ($17.38) per day from 260.34 pesos. This affected about 6.4 million workers, constituting a third of Mexico’s labour force.

25. Romania

Work-Life Balance: 29

Happiness: 29

Average Rank: 29

In Romania, the 2024 Randstad Workmonitor reveals that 96% of employees prioritize work-life balance and pay, with job security at 93%. Mental health support and annual leave days are crucial for 88% and 87% respectively, while health insurance and flexible working hours stand at 87% and 84%.

24. Poland

Work-Life Balance: 26

Happiness: 30

Average Rank: 28

With an average of 34.3 hours worked per week, it has a moderate workload. Moreover, Poland operates a universal public insurance system to support its citizens’ healthcare needs. JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) operates in the heart of Poland with their office in Warsaw.

23. Hungary

Work-Life Balance: 28

Happiness: 26

Average Rank: 27

Hungary excels in work-life balance and social connections, with 70% of people aged 15 to 64 employed. The average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita stands at $21,026 annually. However, only 1% of Hungarian employees work very long hours, contrasting sharply with the OECD’s 10% average. It is one of the happiest places to work.

22. Portugal

Work-Life Balance: 24

Happiness: 27

Average Rank: 25.5

Portugal is spearheading a four-day workweek initiative, joining the global trend to improve work-life balance. The not-for-profit organization 4 Day Week Global has introduced this innovative approach, with the idea that employees work 80% of their regular hours but still receive full pay and maintain productivity targets.

21. Greece

Work-Life Balance: 20

Happiness: 23

Average Rank: 21.5

In Greece, the majority of both men and women benefit from regular working hours as 96% of employees maintain a balanced work-life schedule. The country also houses the office of JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM).

20. Czech Republic

Work-Life Balance: 23

Happiness: 20

Average Rank: 21.5

In the Czech Republic, 95% of employees enjoy regular working hours, which is better than the OECD average of 90%. It is one of the countries with the best work-life balance in the world.

19. Switzerland

Work-Life Balance: 34

Happiness: 9

Average Rank: 21.5

With stable employment rates, especially among men, and a low prevalence of long working hours, Switzerland has a strong work-life balance. The country has high literacy rates, particularly in upper secondary education, with above-average academic performance, where girls often outshine boys.

It is one of the Best Countries To Work And Make The Most Amount of Money.

18. Italy

Work-Life Balance: 22

Happiness: 19

Average Rank: 20.5

Italy has a resilient economy with an average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita of $29,431. While 58% of individuals aged 15 to 64 are employed, the country promotes gender equality with 67% of men and 49% of women in paid work. Moreover, only 3% of employees have very long work hours.

17. South Africa

Work-Life Balance: 18

Happiness: 20

Average Rank: 19

With an index score of 57.78, South Africa stands out as a beacon of work-life balance in Africa, while dealing with economic challenges. Through progressive policies and stable frameworks, the country prioritizes the holistic well-being of its people.

16. Colombia

Work-Life Balance: 25

Happiness: 11

Average Rank: 18

In Colombia, 76% of employees enjoy reasonable working hours in paid work, well below the OECD average of 90%. Moreover, 83% of women benefit from balanced work hours, compared to 72% of men. It is one of the 30 Countries with Best Work-Life Balance in the World.

15. Ireland

Work-Life Balance: 21

Happiness: 12

Average Rank: 16.5

Ireland has some of the happiest workers globally due to several factors. With a GDP growth rate increased to 3.4% in 2020, Ireland has the fastest-growing economy in Europe. Its stable jobs market attracts talent, offering above-average salaries, with consistent rises in average weekly earnings. Moreover, the country’s commitment to work-life balance is evident through the legal entitlement to 20 paid holidays annually and recent legislation guaranteeing the right to disconnect outside working hours. It is one of the happiest English speaking countries in the world.

14. Belgium

Work-Life Balance: 14

Happiness: 11

Average Rank: 12.5

Belgium has implemented a four-day workweek from November 2023, allowing employees to compress full-time hours into fewer days without salary reduction. Prime Minister Alexander de Croo aims to enhance labor market flexibility and improve work-life balance.

13. Austria

Work-Life Balance: 17

Happiness: 5

Average Rank: 11

Austrian employees enjoy a generous allocation of paid leave, fostering a healthy work-life balance. With 25 paid leave days annually, workers relish ample opportunities for rejuvenation and leisure pursuits. Remarkably, after 25 years of dedicated service, this leave is increased to 30 paid leave days. It is one of the top 10 countries with the happiest workers in the world.

12. Germany

Work-Life Balance: 12

Happiness: 8

Average Rank: 10

In Germany, the average weekly working hours for all employed persons in 2022 were 34.7 hours. Full-time employees worked 40.4 hours per week, while part-time employees worked 20.8 hours per week. Germany is one of the happiest countries in the world.

11. Spain 

Work-Life Balance: 2

Happiness: 17

Average Rank: 9.5

Spanish people typically work an average of 36 hours per week, starting around 10 a.m. and often leaving around 8:00-8:30 p.m. Although their workday may seem long, they often enjoy extended lunch breaks.

Click here to see the 10 Countries With The Happiest Workers in The World.

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Disclosure: None. 30 Countries With The Happiest Workers in The World is originally published on Insider Monkey.