Which Countries Have the Happiest Employees?

by Elizabeth Dukes on October 19, 2018

Everyone defines workplace happiness differently. For some, it’s an empty inbox. For others, it’s a calendar free from meetings. But across the board, the happiest employees are the ones who know their employers respect and appreciate them.

The need to feel appreciated and respected is something every employee has, regardless of their role, industry or location. And employers in some countries are better at demonstrating how much they value employees a bit better than others.

Here are a few of the top 25 countries with the happiest employees, according to Universum’s Global Workforce Happiness Index. Take a look at how employers in these countries are showing their commitment to the wellbeing of their employees.

Which Countries Have the Happiest Employees?

Denmark (# 1)

Companies in Denmark with more than 35 employees must make board seats available to all employees. Those employees are then given the same rights and powers as all other members of the management team. Denmark also has the healthiest work-life balance, with an official work week of 37 hours.

Sweden (#4)

Only one percent of Swedish professionals work more than 50 hours per week. And new parents receive 16 months of parental leave to divide between them.

Austria (#5)

Employees in Austria receive up to five weeks of paid time off, along with 13 bank holidays. Additionally, pregnant employees receive paid maternity leave for the last eight weeks of their pregnancy as well as the two months following birth.

Netherlands (#6)

In accordance with the Working Hours Act, employees in the Netherlands cannot be required to work more than nine hours per day.

Switzerland (#12)

According to research by German consulting firm Geva Institut, employees in Switzerland gain more fulfillment from their jobs than employees in most other countries in the world. Additionally, all employed Swiss mothers receive 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.

France (#16)

In addition to a mandated five weeks of PTO, employers in France are required to make allowances for employee weddings.

Brazil (#20)

In Brazil, no employee can work more than 44 hours per week, and overtime cannot be more than two hours per day.

Panama (#21)

Employees in Panama are granted 30 days of PTO, and many employers offer a standard two-hour lunch break. In addition, most businesses actively encourage colleagues to pursue friendships outside of work.

As you can see, the employers with the happiest employees are the ones who encourage a strong work-life balance. In many cases, that means setting limits on the number of hours employees work during the week and throughout the year.

In case you’re wondering, the U.S. ranked 36 on the Global Workplace Happiness Index, well below Mexico, which came in at No. 13, and Canada, which came in at No. 23.

How Can Employers Increase Workplace Happiness?

In its report, It’s Time We All Work Happy, Robert Half discusses how companies can build a workforce of happier employees. According to Nic Marks, CEO and Founder of Happiness Works, there are three core emotions that contribute to happiness at work:

  • Enthusiasm, which empowers employees to be creative and seize opportunities.
  • Interest, which is a focusing energy that helps employees commit to challenging, but ultimately rewarding, tasks.
  • Commitment, which is a reflective emotion that enables employees to recognize how they have achieved success in the past and how to replicate that success in the future.

The report also defines the six factors that influence employee happiness:

  1. Right fit for the job and company
  2. A sense of empowerment
  3. Feeling appreciated
  4. Interesting and meaningful work
  5. A sense of fairness
  6. Positive work relationships

At a time when employees have more choices than ever about where and how they work, it’s in your company’s best interest to prioritize workplace happiness and the employee experience.

In fact, the report cites research that proves happy employees are more loyal, resilient and healthier and also do better work.

If you want your employees to be excited about coming into work every day, you have to show them you’re dedicated to not only supporting them when they’re in the office but when they’re off the clock, too.


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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