Cloud HR

Which country is the best place to work?

If you work in a multi-national company, you will no doubt have developed some opinions on how co-workers in different countries work and/or the working conditions they have.

It may be that you think certain countries always seem to have national holidays or that certain subsidiaries only work certain hours.

Well, all may not be as it seems, and the grass may not be greener on the other side after all.

We have looked at some of the stereotypes people have about working in different countries to find out if they really are true.

Germany have the most holidays

Well this is a difficult one. Different sources report differently. Some add national holidays into the total or some just count the statutory allowance that companies have to offer.

It’s reported that some countries like Kuwait and Cambodia have 43 and 42 days respectively.

On the whole it seems that countries in the Middle East like Iran have the largest amount of paid time off (PTO) and European nations tend to have around 20-30 days annual leave.

Spare a thought for your colleagues in the United States as there is no statutory obligation for companies to offer vacation to their employees. However, most companies do however offer some form of paid time off.

The French only work 35 hours per week

Clock in machine

Well this is a stereotype that is not necessarily true. While there is legislation in France surrounding a 35 hour working week, staff can request to work above the limit and managers are not subject to the restriction.

There are countries, however, that work fewer hours according to the OECD. On average countries like Germany, Denmark and Norway tend to work fewer hours annually than the French.

The Japanese and South Koreans work the longest hours

Japan street

At the other end of the spectrum, the common thought is that workers in South Korea and Japan work the longest hours. Stereotypes of ‘Salarymen’ in Japan have been around for many years.

However, the OECD report that Mexico and Costa Rica work longer hours on average than workers in South Korea.

Of course – as with all statistics – they are open to question as some workers may under report or over report working hours to adhere to regulations.

Also, Business Insider reports that Columbia is the country with the worst work/life balance. The average working week is 47.7 hours long, leaving little free time outside of work.

The British always take a tea break at 11am

British tea break

This would be nice, but unfortunately for your colleagues in the UK it isn’t necessarily true.

However, British workers are entitled to a 20 minute uninterrupted break during their working day if they work more than 6 hours a day.

The Swedes take ‘Fika’, which essentially is going for a chat over a coffee and cake. This is not a law, but many Swedes tend to take a ‘Fika’ break for 10-30 minutes at 10:00am and 3:00pm.

It’s a social institution in Sweden and is meant to be good for employees mental health as it gives people the chance to chat, chill out and regather their thoughts before going back to work. So maybe ‘Fika’ should be embraced in more offices around the globe.

Speaking of Scandinavia, surely Nordic countries have the best maternity leave?

Maternity leave

Countries like Sweden, Norway and Finland do have very good maternity leave policies.

However, according to a recent OECD report highlighted in The Independent it appears that Estonia, Bulgaria and Hungary have some of the best maternity leave policies.

The flip side of this is that three countries in the world do not offer any form of statutory paid maternity leave.

The Chinese are most productive

Production line

Which country would you think is this the most productive? Perhaps China, Germany, or Japan? Well according to a report by the OECD it’s Irish workers who are most productive in the world.

This may come as a surprise, but with a large number of multi-national businesses locating their European headquarters on the ‘Emerald Isle’, these companies tend to drive large productivity gains.

As you can imagine if you work in a global HR function, managing all these different policies can be difficult.

So which country is the best place to work?

Well it depends on what you value most and possibly even what stage of life you are at. In a globalized world working conditions and practices are more visible. This is especially the case if you work in a global HR function.

Our Global Payroll Complexity Index explored some of the growing global trends occurring in countries around the world of payroll.

Maintaining a level playing field for employees as well as reflecting local working practices is a difficult line to balance.

As a result, you need to make sure your systems can deal with these unique traits each country has. If you need help managing your multi-country payroll, then get in touch and see how we can help.