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Global Work-Life Balance

global work-life balance


It often feels as though there needs to be more hours in the day to get everything done, especially when balancing your work and home life. The lines between the two can be blurred for many, however, there should be time to meet your deadlines at work and then enjoy your out-of-work activities. 

Both of these daily aspects of our lives can be demanding of our energy and time. But furthermore, not having a balance between them can begin to affect your well-being and mental health. 

With more workplaces being much more flexible with how their employees work, you can use our job search in order to find a role that suits you! Be sure to use our filters, as we have a specific “work-life balance” filter to show you companies that value this aspect of working. 

We wanted to update our previous American Work-Life Balance Index, looking at the most recently available data and we also wanted to look at developed countries this time around. We looked at several factors, such as the average number of hours worked, estimated commute times, childcare costs and overall happiness of residents.

The Best US States for Work-Life Balance

  1. North Dakota

Overall Work-Life Balance Score: 8.98/10

North Dakota comes out as the state with the best work-life balance score, at 8.98 out of 10. The state ranked extremely well for its lower average weekly working hours and its short commute time of just 17 and a half minutes. This results in less time being spent in the office and more time on your home life. 

  1. Utah

Overall Work-Life Balance Score: 7.81/10

At 7.81 out of 10, Utah has the second highest work-life balance score in the entirety of the US. Utah ranks in the top fifteen for both their lower average weekly working hours and average commuting time. On top of that, it is also the second-happiest state. In our previous American work-life balance index, Utah ranked top as the overall best state for work-life balance. 

  1. Idaho

Overall Work-Life Balance Score: 7.76/10

Idaho takes third place for US states with the best work-life balance, scoring 7.76 out of 10. One of the top ten happiest states, and also having one of the lowest average weekly childcare costs, Idaho also has low commute times at an average of 21.6 minutes, meaning you can spend less time working and more time enjoying the wilderness Idaho is known for. 

Explore the Work-Life Balance Rating Per State

Explore this interactive chart that showcases states based on one of the most crucial aspect of employee satisfaction – work-life balance. Data is obtained from the ratings given by employees, allowing you to assess the working conditions, compensation, and advancement opportunities offered by these organizations based on the real experiences of the people who know them best – their employees. The chart is interactive, so feel free to explore!

US States with the Shortest Average Working Week

  1. New Mexico

Average Weekly Hours Worked: 35.9

New Mexico comes out as the state with the shortest average working week in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state averaged 35.9 hours per week, lower than the standard 40 hours per week, excluding overtime. Previously, Utah ranked as the state with the shortest average workweek, at 37.3 hours a week. 

  1. Alaska

Average Weekly Hours Worked: 36.4

Just behind New Mexico, we have Alaska, which is shown to work a half hour more on average. For 2021, the BLS recorded 36.4 as the average amount of hours worked per week in the state. 

  1. Montana

Average Weekly Hours Worked: 37.4

Montana, on the other hand, finishes third and works an hour longer than Alaska on average. However, it still falls below the 40 hours average for full-time work, according to the BLS average figure of 37.4 hours per week. 

US States with the Shortest Work Commute Time

  1. South Dakota

Estimated Work Commute Time: 17.4 minutes

South Dakota is the US state where you’ll be likely to spend the least amount of time on your daily work commute. For 2021, the state recorded an average of 17.4 minutes spent on a daily commute to work. Previously, North and South Dakota ranked top for the shortest work commute time, at around 17.9 minutes. That time is now much shorter, however, South Dakota is solely ranked top. 

  1. North Dakota

Estimated Work Commute Time: 17.5 minutes

South Dakota’s northern counterpart comes in with the second shortest commute time, the 2021 average work commute time for the state was around 17 and a half minutes. In our previous index, North Dakota had a commute time of 17.9 minutes, as such this is a good decrease for the state. 

  1. Wyoming

Estimated Work Commute Time: 18.3 minutes

The state with the third shortest commute in the US is Wyoming, with a 2021 average time of 18.3 minutes, making the commute almost one minute longer than first-placed South Dakota.

US States with the Most Affordable Childcare

  1. Mississippi

Average Cost of Childcare (per 5-Day Working Week): $74

Mississippi is the state with the most affordable childcare, on average. This is especially important for working professionals with children, being able to get your kids into affordable and high-quality care while you’re working, will put your mind at ease. 

  1. Alabama

Average Cost of Childcare (per 5-Day Working Week): $82

The US state with the second-lowest average childcare cost for a five-day working week is Alabama. On average, it would cost around $82 for childcare for a full five-day week. 

  1. Kentucky

Average Cost of Childcare (per 5-Day Working Week): $88

Kentucky is the state with the third-lowest childcare costs in the US, with their average cost being $88 for an average five-day working week.

The Happiest States in the US

We also wanted to look at the happiness of each of the states in the US, using WalletHub’s index. The index scores each state overall and then provides rankings for each factor: emotional & physical well-being, work environment, and community & environment. 

  1. Hawaii

Happiness Score: 68.3/100

Hawaii comes out on top as the happiest state in the US as of 2022, scoring 68.3 out of 100 on WalletHub’s happiness index. The state ranked number one for emotional and physical well-being, as an individual factor of the overall score. It also previously ranked first for having the best wellbeing on our previous American work-life Balance Index.

  1. Utah

Happiness Score: 67.8/100

Taking the spot as the second-most happiest state in the US, we have Utah, having scored 67.8/100 on the index for 2022. Utah scored second on the index for community and environment and thirteenth for the work environment index.

  1. Minnesota

Happiness Score: 67.26/100

And taking the third spot for the happiest state in the US, we have Minnesota, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”. On the 2022 happiness index, it scored 67.3 out of 100. In our previous work-life balance index, Minnesota ranked twelfth for wellbeing.

The Best Countries for Work-Life Balance

  1. Iceland

Overall Work-Life Balance Score: 9.19/10

Iceland comes out on top for countries that are best for having a work-life balance, with an overall work-life balance score of 9.03 out of 10. Iceland ranked in the top ten on all four of the contributing factors for the overall score. 

  1. Norway

Overall Work-Life Balance Score: 8.31/10

Meanwhile, Norway takes the second spot, a country already renowned for its quality of life for residents. On the overall life balance score, Sweden managed an 8.31 out of 10, ranking in the top fifteen for all four of the factors we looked at. 

  1. Sweden

Overall Work-Life Balance Score: 8.25/10

And in third place, we have Sweden, another country well known for its quality of life. On the overall work-life balance score, it scored 8.25 out of 10. 

Countries with the Shortest Average Working Year

  1. Germany

Average Annual Hours Worked: 1,349

Germany is the country with the shortest working year, having an average of 1,349 hours worked. Meaning, you can spend less time on the clock at work and more time focusing on your home life. 

  1. Denmark

Average Annual Hours Worked: 1,363

Coming in with the second-shortest working year we have the Nordic country of Denmark. 2021 OECD data shows that residents of Denmark averaged working 1,363 hours for the entirety of 2021, just 14 hours longer than Germany.

  1. Luxembourg

Average Annual Hours Worked: 1,382

And taking the third spot, we have the small country of Luxembourg, officially known as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. On average, people in Luxembourg worked around 1,382 hours in total for the whole of 2021. 

Countries with the Shortest Work Commute Times

  1. Iceland

Estimated Work Commute Time: 20.6 minutes

Iceland, the Nordic island country, comes in at the top for the shortest work commutes. According to Numbeo user data, the average commute time is around 20.6 minutes, for those heading into the office. 

  1. Estonia

Estimated Work Commute Time: 24.1 minutes

Taking the proverbial silver medal for countries with the shortest commute time, we have Estonia. Again, user data shows that the average commute time is 24.1 minutes for residents of this country. 

  1. Austria

Estimated Work Commute Time: 24.8 minutes

And taking the bronze, we have Austria – home to the Eastern Alps, with an average work commute of 24.8 minutes. This is almost four minutes longer than Iceland, but still a respectably fast commute. 

Countries with the Most Affordable Childcare

  1. Sweden

Average Cost of Childcare (per 5-Day Working Week): $31.24

Sweden comes in first with the most affordable childcare. On average, childcare in Sweden costs as little as $31.24 for a five-day working week, meaning that you don’t need to worry about your kids too much whilst you’re working. 

  1. Colombia

Average Cost of Childcare (per 5-Day Working Week): $33.23

Colombia takes second place for countries with the most affordable childcare, with costs being $33.23, on average, for a five-day working week. 

  1. Turkey

Average Cost of Childcare (per 5-Day Working Week): $45.63

Next, we have the transcontinental country of Turkey, with the third-lowest childcare costs for countries. On average, costs are $45.63 for a full five-day working week. 

The Happiest Countries

The World Happiness Report ranks countries based on the life evaluation of residents, which is conducted through surveys. The figure is an average of the survey responses from 2019 to 2021. 

It is also broken down into how six key factors may explain these life evaluations, however, the overall happiness ranking is not based on the index of those six factors. The six factors are generosity, freedom, corruption, healthy life expectancy, social support and GDP per capita.  

  1. Finland

Happiness Score: 78.2/100

Finland, having already ranked in the top three countries overall, is our happiest country. The World Happiness Report scored Finland 78.2 out of 100, based on survey information for residents in that country.  

  1. Denmark

Happiness Score: 76.4/100

Denmark takes the second spot for happiest countries, as the World Happiness Report gave it a score of 76.4 out of 100. 

  1. Iceland

Happiness Score: 75.6/100

And in third place, we have our number one country for work-life balance, Iceland. The World Happiness Report scored this country 75.6 out of 100. 

Methodology – 

US Data – For the US section, we wanted to look at work-life balance across each state (excluding the District of Columbia). 

Firstly, we looked at the average number of hours worked in each state per week, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics

We then looked at the average estimated commute times for each state, using the United States Census Bureau

And then we looked at the average cost of childcare for a five-day working week for each state, using data from the Economic Policy Institute, we then calculated the average for a five-day week using their annual costs. 

And lastly, we wanted to look at the general happiness of residents for each state, using World Population Review’s Happiest States 2023. Then, using all of these four factors, we created an overall score for each state to find out which one was the best for work-life balance. 

Global Data – We then looked at the same factors for OECD countries. 

To look at the average working hours for these countries, we used data from the OECD taking their annual data, as this dataset doesn’t account for paid leave, public holidays, paternity/maternity leave, and various other things. 

We then used Numbeo user data to get the average time for work commutes for each country, in minutes. This data was accessed and is valid from 01/20/2022. 

To look at average childcare costs we used data from Numbeo, taking their monthly cost for childcare in USD. We were then able to calculate the daily cost to get an average cost for a five-day working week. 

And then for the happiness section we used the World Happiness Report and to make their score more comparable to the US scores, we calculated their score out of 100, instead of out of 10. We then created an overall score based on these factors to determine the best country for work-life balance. 

Team Lensa
Team Lensa
Team Lensa is a group of HR specialists, career counselors, and tech enthusiasts dedicated to helping job seekers navigate the employment landscape through actionable tips and insights.

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