• People in Italy have the best work-life balance, according to the OECD.
  • Only 3 percent of employees in the country work more than 50 hours a week.
  • Denmark, Norway, Spain and the Netherlands are also ranked highly.
  • But the US comes in 29th because more than a tenth of people have long working hours.

People in Italy enjoy the best work-life balance, according to recent findings by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Unsurprisingly, the most important aspect for a healthy work-life balance is the amount of time people spend (not) at work, how many people work very long hours and how much time remains for leisure. The authors of the Better Life Index note that "evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardise safety and increase stress."

COVID, workers, well, health

What is the Forum doing about keeping workers well?

Keeping workers well. It is the united aim of a global community influencing how companies will keep employees safe. What is the role of COVID-19 testing? What is the value of contact tracing? How do organizations ensure health at work for all employees?

Members from a diverse range of industries – from healthcare to food, utilities, software and more – and from over 25 countries and 250 companies representing more than 1 million employees are involved in the COVID-19 Workplace Commons: Keeping Workers Well initiative. Launched in July 2020, the project is a partnership between the World Economic Forum and Arizona State University with support from The Rockefeller Foundation.

The COVID-19 Workplace Commons: Keeping Workers Well initiative leverages the Forum’s platforms, networks and global convening ability to collect, refine and share strategies and approaches for returning to the workplace safely as part of broader COVID-19 recovery strategies.

Companies can apply to share their learnings and participate in the initiative as a partner, by joining the Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare.

Learn more about the impact.

Employed Italians had the most time for leisure and personal activities in the survey, while only 3 percent of employees in the country worked very long hours (50 or more hours a week). In comparison, 10.4 percent of American employees worked very long hours, causing the United States to rank much lower (29th out of 41 countries in the running).

An infographic showing OECD countries ranked highest for the quality of their work-life balance in 2020
Italy ranked higher than France, Spain and Germany for their quality of work-life balance in 2020
Image: Statista/OECD