The least hard-working countries in the world

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Posted on: 26 October 2018 by Morgan Franklin

While it’s not always fair or useful to judge a country based on its production and success (after all many have been at it for longer than others and have more resources etc), the hard-working element of this article refers simply to the sheer number of hours the average person performs each week.

While it’s not always fair or useful to judge a country based on its production and success (after all many have been at it for longer than others and have more resources etc), the hard-working element of this article refers simply to the sheer number of hours the average person performs each week. This is not to say that countries with less hours worked are less productive, because this isn’t the case. In fact, there are a lot of arguments that suggest a shorter working-week is actually more beneficial for employees and employers. Spending less time at work has a few effects; a person has more time to spend on themselves and personal goals, it is important to maintain a healthy work-life balance, work can be performed more intensely due to a shorter period of sustained focus. As well as this, the human attention span lasts for around 20 minutes on a single task before it starts to lose focus, so less hours would be more beneficial for focus and concentration during the working week. Below are the three countries with the shortest working-weeks, none of which have fallen into disarray as a result.

 

New Zealand - 33 hours per week average

 

Although there are some exceptions, you’ll find that the majority of countries have working weeks between 35-40 hours. New Zealand for instance only have a 33 hour working week on average. Perpetual Guardian, a New Zealand based firm who manage wills, trusts and estate planning implemented a trial four-day work week as an experiment into the effects of less working hours on employee health, satisfaction and productivity. The trial was labelled an ‘unmitigated success’ as employees were still paid the same amount and had more time to spend with their families and on hobbies. This increased productivity and reduced stress levels in employees. In theory, this would also lead to higher levels of employee commitment as people might remain content with positions longer if they work less.

 

Australia - 33 hours per week average

 

The findings from the above trial have circulated the world, including neighbours Australia, many workers of which are keen for a four-day working week. Regulations to working hours are important and have been supported heavily by populations around the world, especially in the hardest working countries. For example, the eight-hour day movement which was born from the american civil war was protested by hundred of thousands of Britons in Hyde Park. It is important even now as the unpaid overtime put in by UK workers exceeded 21 billion hours (a free 33 billion in labour costs.)

 

Netherlands - 32 hours per week average


Research shows that of all the people in the world, the Dutch work the least amount of hours. This is partly because the a lot of dutch people prefer working part-time. This does not however mean that the Dutch are lazy. Production quantities are very high and the intensity of their work during this time is very impressive. There are criticisms of the netherlands however as their tax laws remove the incentive for people to work extra hours (why would you do an extra shift when you’ll probably be taxed for half of it anyway).

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